Back in the days of the Hapsburg Monarchy, a simple but clever rustic hulk, Martin Krpan, smuggles "English salt" inland from the sea. One day, he bumps into the Emperor on a snowy path and demonstrates his fantastic strength to His Majesty. Soon after, Vienna is attacked by a terrifying giant called Brdaus, who slays all the imperial heroes. The Emperor calls upon Martin as a last resort to save his Empire. Martin defeats the fiend in a duel and, as a reward, receives a license to legally transport his "English salt".
Fran Levstik's Martin Krpan is one of the fundamental works of Slovenian literature, and Martin Krpan as a character is considered a national hero. Adapting the story into a cartoon proved to be quite a challenge—everyone here in my home country has their own interpretation of the work, while everywhere else Martin Krpan is completely unknown. For me, it is foremost an amazing story about being free, about finding your way in the world and living your dream.
The core of the cartoon is illustration, for which I had two goals: to stay in accordance with the original story, but to be modern enough to appeal to youth today. The animation is intentionally sharp and clear—this is used both as a way to show the different personalities of the characters and also to enhance comic situations. The story about Martin Krpan is filled with witty humour, and I couldn't resist the urge to jump into this amazing endeavour.
Nejc Saje (1976) is photographer by profession and works in the fields of photography, cinema, animation, video, and theatre. Martin Krpan is his second animated film after his award-winning debut Courtyard.