Every Czech child knows cartoons which feature the little mole (“krteček”). And not only Czech children. The mole is broadcasted in many other countries of the world. It appears in books, there are toys, jigsaw puzzles etc. based on the films. The little mole adventures are designed for children around 2-4 years of age but remain popular among older children as well as the parents.
How it all began?
Interesting aspect of this cartoon character popular among generations of children is its origin. In 1950s, Zdeněk Miler was tasked to create a short cartoon describing the process of textile production for children. He made a 8-minute film in which a little mole wants to have trousers with pockets into which he could store his many belongings. With the help from friends (a frog, a stork, a hedgehog, ants, a cancer and a bird), he harvests flax, processes it to make fibres. Then he makes linen (ants build a frame for him), dyes it, the cancer cuts it and the bird sews the trousers.
What did follow?
The film, released in 1957, was followed by further episodes. The first episode, however, was the only one where the little mole (and other characters) speaks more than one word at once. In the other, he only uses greetings, “yes” or “no” and single commands like “Come!” which makes the films comprehensible even for quite small children (even below two years of age) and they don’t need to be translated which facilitated success abroad. Interesting fact is that if the little mole cries, the sound is really a cry – of two Miler’s daughters whom he recorded when they had been crying.
Who exactly is the little mole?
The appearance of the little mole changed slightly during the decades. For example, in the first episode, it truly resembles a mole and has a tail which it doesn’t in any other film. During the course of time, the snout became shorter and eyes bigger.
It is not quite clear, how old the mole is and whether it is male of female. However, there are several hints that the little mole is a male, especially in the later episodes where it invites a clearly female mouse to a date and wears a top hat. The trousers in the first episode is also a clearly one for a man (or a boy). As for the age, the little mole mostly behaves as a boy but several moments suggest that it is of age (it drives a car repeatedly, operates a high tech robot etc.).
The little mole is not against a little mischief but it is good in general. Many episodes are based on its helping the others (thirsty flowers, sick friend, a carp threatened by a pike, or a small eagle in a flood).
More about the series
The adventures take the mole to many places. It travels around the world, visits space in a rocket. It also flies on a carpet, helps deliver baby rabbits, learns to play the flute… There are 49 episodes in total. The last one was premiered in 2002 which means that the little mole adventures spanned over five decades. Still, the oldest ones have not become obsolete. The shortest ones are 5 minutes long, the longest last half an hour each.
More about the author
Zdeněk Miler (died 2011) was a successful author of approx 30 more cartoons with other protagonists (almost always animals, mostly insects like a cricket, spiders etc.). However, the little mole is by far his most famous. He also illustrated books. He said that he decided to make his cartoon about a mole as it was of the only few species Walt Disney (whom Miler admired) did not use in his films.
DVDs with the little mole
Several years ago, all the episodes were released on DVDs (in paper sleeves) and for a very reasonable price – one DVD was for the equivalent of 2 euro, the whole set was therefore around 12 euro in total. If you’re lucky, you can still get some at some stall with DVDs which stand at some metro stations. If you have small children, you have just bought them a lot of fun for almost nothing! However, even the more expensive DVDs in hard covers are an excellent surprise for small children.