The Mole and the Matchbox / Der Maulwurf und die Geburt: how Krtecek makes creative multi-tasking look so easy and tidy

Zdenek Miler, “Krtek a zapalky / The Mole and the Matchbox” (1974)

Zdenek Miler, “Der Maulwurf und die Geburt / Krot i Rody” (1990s?)

I can’t find an English-language version of this Krtecek (The Little Mole) episode so I’m not really sure of the English title. The German title translates as “The Mole and the Birth”. In this episode, our little pal plays a minor multiple role as matchmaker, marriage celebrant and midwife to a pair of amorous bunnies who start off as flirts, fall deeply in love and matrimony, get pregnant and give birth to a trio of bonny kittens.

The episode is noteworthy for its minimal and matter-of-fact depiction of bunny sex – Miler discreetly removes a line between the kissing lagomorphs’ bellies – and of later bunny birth as the prospective father soothes his wife and whistles for the doctor. Krtecek comes charging with his case, opens it and tosses out surgical equipment to find a stethoscope to listen to the babies’ heartbeats. While Krtecek massages Mum’s tummy, Dad draws out the first child and two others pop out after much kneading from Krtecek. An insect musician hurries to serenade the happy family with a violin concerto and everyone dances a gentle polka. If only real life could be so easy and tidy!

A more charming piece is an earlier episode from the mid-1970s in which Krtecek and one of his regular co-stars the Mouse discover a matchbox and invent all kinds of fun uses for it: a boat, a swing, a table, a car and a go-kart. Eventually they find what it’s really for: it’s used to store the discarded matches on the forest floor and to light them up. Except they get rather more than they bargain for as the matches burn indefinitely into the night!

As with all other Krtecek episodes I’ve seen, these animations feature beautiful painted forest backgrounds and settings and there is no dialogue apart from children’s laughter and shouts of “Hallo!” Once again Krtecek proves himself a multi-tasking meister, and if he were to meet Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, why, between them they could solve Third World poverty and hunger, ensure everlasting peace in the Middle East, clean up the Daiichi nuclear reactor complex in Fukushima and get rid of global banksters and their pals in the worldwide arms manufacturing industry. If only real life could be so easy and tidy!

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