Lapitch the Little Shoemaker

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Lapitch the Little Shoemaker
Lapitch DVD cover (HR).jpg
The DVD cover for Lapitch in its native Croatia. This design was also used for Egmont Publishing's locally-published adaptation of the film.
Directed by Milan Blažeković
Produced by Željko Zima
Steffen Diebold
Written by Novel:
Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić
Milan Blažeković
Pajo Kanižaj
Ivo Škrabalo
English adaptation:
Alan Shearman
Starring Ivan Gudeljević
Maja Rožman
Tarik Filipović
Pero Juričić
Relja Bašić
Music by Original version:
Duško Mandić
English version:
Hermann Weindorf
Edited by Mirna Supek-Janjić
Croatia Film
Distributed by Croatia:
Croatia Film
ProSieben Home Entertainment (VHS)[1]
Release date
  • 1997 (1997) (Croatia)
  • 23 October 1997 (1997-10-23) (Germany)
Running time
83 minutes
Country Croatia
Language Croatian
Budget DM900,000[2][3]

Lapitch the Little Shoemaker (Croatian: Čudnovate zgode šegrta Hlapića) is a 1997 animated feature that was originally released in Croatian theatres in 1997 by Croatia Film. Produced on vintage cel equipment during the early 1990s,[4] this was the third feature from Croatia Film's animation unit and director Milan Blažeković, after The Elm-Chanted Forest (1986) and The Magician's Hat (1990).[5][6]

It is based on The Brave Adventures of Lapitch, a 1913 novel by Croatian author Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić. In this adaptation, all of the characters are animals, and the title character is a mouse, rather than the human character of the original work.[2] As with the book, the film is about a shoemaker's apprentice who leaves the confines of his ill-tempered master, and sets off on an adventure. During his journey, he befriends a circus performer named Gita, and fights against the evil Dirty Rat.

Lapitch remains Croatia's most successful production in terms of viewership,[5][7] and became that country's official selection for the 1997 Academy Awards (in the Best Foreign Language Film category).[8] Its popularity led to the production of a 26-episode television series, also called Lapitch the Little Shoemaker, at the end of the 1990s.[9][10]

In February 2000, it first appeared in North America as the initial entry in Sony Wonder's short-lived "Movie Matinee" video series. The Disney Channel also premiered it on U.S. cable television later that same month.[11]


Original Croatian character names are in parentheses.

Lapitch (Šegrt Hlapić), a small orphan mouse, works in a small town as the apprentice of the Scowlers—a mean-mannered shoemaker (Majstor Mrkonja), and his kind-hearted wife (Majstorica). His dog, Brewster (Bundaš), keeps him company when he is alone.

Master Scowler awaits a visit from the Mayor (Gradonačelnik) and his son (both pigs); Lapitch has to make sure the pigs' boots are the right size. When the piglet tries to put them on, things do not go well, and the two patrons leave for good. Lapitch tries to tell the Master it was not his fault, yet he still blames his young apprentice for the mistake.

Mistress Scowler apologises for her husband's bad behaviour. While he tidies up, she tells the young mouse that she and her husband used to be happier ages ago. Lapitch wants to know why, but the Mistress vows only to tell him when he is older.

Lapitch writes a letter to the Scowlers and leaves the village, wearing the piglet's boots. Although Lapitch has said good-bye to Brewster, the dog joins him the following morning. Eventually, the two of them visit a young squirrel named Marco (Marko), who lives in a house with a blue star on its walls, and help him round up some geese that went astray while he was tending to the flock.

At evening, Marco's mother thanks them by serving a luscious supper. An awkward raccoon, Melvin (Grga), eavesdrops on the group's conversation. Hearing of a valuable treasure stored inside their house, he runs off to tell his boss, the evil Dirty Rat (Crni Štakor), about the goods.

When morning comes, Lapitch and Brewster say farewell to the squirrels. The road ahead, however, does not go smoothly: an afternoon of unusual weather culminates in an evening storm, and they must find shelter. When they do, under an old bridge they meet Dirty Rat himself, and sleep next to him. Because of Dirty Rat—"King of the Underworld" as he is known—Lapitch wakes up shocked to see his boots gone.

As he looks for the shiny pair, he meets Lisa (Gita)—another orphan mouse—and her parrot Pico (Amadeus); both came from a circus whose ringmaster treated them badly and left them behind. During their journey, the two mice and their pets meet Melvin's hardworking mother and help her chop wood. Worried about her son's bad deeds, Melvin's mother gives Lapitch a silver coin for luck before they go off. The mouse later gives it to the raccoon, after he falls off Dirty Rat's wagon.

Soon, the group team up with some villagers to extinguish a fire, but the villagers make Melvin a suspect in the area's recent robbery sting. In addition, the group encounters a poor cat like Warthog named Yana (Jana), whose magic powers give Lapitch the courage to face the evil Dirty Rat.

After the gang comes to a circus, Lisa entertains the patrons of an under-used merry-go-round. As night falls, she reunites with her horse, Blanka (Zorka), after hearing its neigh. But a nasty surprise awaits everyone: Dirty Rat makes a deal with Lisa's ringmaster in which he vows to reach Marco's house with a fast horse, and steal the family chest. Lapitch and friends plan to stop him for good when they hear this.

Later on, they meet Master Scowler, whom Melvin has just rescued. Scowler tells them he was robbed and tied up in a tree for two days. They all set forth to put an end to Dirty Rat; Melvin gives them a hand, but his boss ties him and swings him out of the way.

A determined Lapitch, guided by Yana and her wise advice, comes to terms with the villain's schemes. Dirty Rat is so enraged that his horse charges straight at the little mouse, about to trample him. At the last moment, a bolt of lightning splits the harness; the Rat and his cart fall down a cliff, encased in huge boulders, Dirty Rat is presumably dead.

The clouds clear as soon as everyone celebrates. Then, Lisa tames Dirty Rat's black horse, and gives it to Melvin, who promises to live a good life after what he has gone through, Lapitch was sad if Lisa was possibly killed by Dirty Rat.

The next day, Lapitch, Yana Marco and the rest arrive at Marco's house, where his mother shows them the family's valuable treasure; she also receives Melvin's coin. When they leave, they meet Marco's father, gone for a long time after working in a faraway land.

Back home, a worried Mistress Scowler is delighted to see everyone back again—Brewster, Master Scowler, Lapitch and Lisa. By then, she and her husband finally recognise Lisa, the orphan circus star, as their lone child Susanna. The Scowlers have their happiest moment ever due to this; afterwards, Master plays a pleasant tune on his violin, and everybody dances to it. Eventually, the Scowlers rekindle their relationship, and the town dwellers celebrate along with them. In time, Lapitch becomes the most respected shoemaker they have ever known.


Croatian version
Actor Role
Croatian name English name
Ivan Gudeljević Šegrt Hlapić Lapitch
Maja Rožman Gita Lisa
Tarik Filipović Amadeus Pico
Vlasnik vrtuljka Merry-go-round owner
Pero Juričić Bundaš Brewster
Vlasnik cirkusa Ringmaster
Relja Bašić Crni Štakor Dirty Rat
Vlado Kovačević Majstor Mrkonja Master Scowler
Marina Nemet Brankov Majstorica Mistress Scowler
Hrvoje Zalar Grga Melvin
Ljiljana Gener Jana Yana
Zorko Sirotić Marko Marco
Ivana Bakarić Markova majka Marco's Mother
Božidarka Frajt Grgina majka Melvin's Mother
Emil Glad Medo Bear
Ivica Vidović Markov otac Marco's Father
Mate Ergović Gostioničar Innkeeper
Mladen Crnobrnja Ptica Štef Bird
Slavko Brankov Jazavac Badger
Sven Šestak Lisac Fox
Marinko Prga Zec Rabbit
Ivo Rogulja Gradonačelnik The Mayor
Barbara Rocco Praščić The Mayor's Son
Zlatko Crnković Pripovjedač Narrator
English version
Actor Role
Cathy Weseluck Lapitch and Marco's Mother[12]
Janyse Jaud Yana, Marco and Melvin's mother
Jay Brazeau Additional Voices
Andrea Libman Lisa
Michael Dobson Additional Voices
Terry Klassen Dirty Rat
Ian James Corlett Melvin
Maxine Miller Additional Voices
Gerard Plunkett Additional Voices
Robert O. Smith Additional Voices
German version[13]
Actor Role
Manuel Straube Lapitch
Julia Kaufmann Lisa
Michael Walke Melvin


The Croatia Film company worked on Lapitch the Little Shoemaker from 1991 until 1997,[3][14] with funding from the Ministry of Culture.[2] The film was produced at a time when Croatia faced a slump in its animation industry,[15] and had just begun to undergo its War of Independence.[15] During production, the crew used cel cameras dating as far back as 1938.[4] They also made Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić's title character a mouse, amid a roster of anthropomorphic animals.[2]

Director Milan Blažeković had previously worked on several animated shorts and Professor Balthazar episodes for Zagreb Film,[16] before heading on to direct 1986's The Elm-Chanted Forest and its 1990 sequel The Magician's Hat for the Croatia Film studio. For Lapitch, he also served as a screenplay writer and layout artist. The film featured a roster of well-known Croatian actors, among them Relja Bašić, Emil Glad, Tarik Filipović and Ivana Bakarić. Child actors Ivan Gudeljević and Maja Rožman played the title character and his girlfriend respectively.

Early in 1997, Croatia Film teamed up with two German entities—HaffaDiebold, a subsidiary of Constantin Medien, and the television station ProSieben—to create a new version of the film for the international market.[9][10] With several altered scenes, and a reworked ending, this version was first dubbed for the German-speaking market, before being sold to over 70 territories worldwide.[10] Sweden's TV1000 was among the first stations to air the HaffaDiebold edit on television, under the title Lapitch den lilla skomakaren.[10][17]

The film's English-language dub was recorded in Vancouver, British Columbia, at Koko Productions and Airwaves Sound Design; Rainmaker Digital Pictures handled post-production. In this version, Canadian voice actress Cathy Weseluck provided the voice of Lapitch.[12]


The music for the original version was composed by Duško Mandić, with songs written by crew member Pajo Kanižaj. Croatian musician Petar Grašo contributed to the production with the uncredited "Ljubav sve pozlati", part of which was heard in the end credits. Željko Zima, the film's producer, directed its music video.[18] The song also appeared as the last track of Grašo's 1997 debut album, Mjesec iznad oblaka, published by Orfej and Tonika.[19][20][21]

For the international version, Germany's Hermann Weindorf worked on a new set of songs and music, replacing Mandić's contributions. "Take My Hand", performed by Jane Bogart, took the place of "Ljubav sve pozlati". A German soundtrack of this version was released on CD and cassette by the Ariola label on 6 October 1997.[22]

English song Performed by Original Croatian track
"Shoe Song" Munich All-Stars Choir "Pjesma cipelica"
"Dirty Rat" Eric Brodka "Pjesma Crnog Štakora"
"Farmers and Friends Forever" Munich All-Stars Choir "Pjesma žetelaca"
"Take My Hand"[Note 1] Manuel Straube
Maren Rainer
"Pjesma prognanika"
"Take My Hand (Pop Version)" Jane Bogart "Ljubav sve pozlati"

Release and reception[edit]

In its revised form, Lapitch the Little Shoemaker was Croatia's sole competing entry in the 1997 edition of Portugal's Cinanima, a film festival focusing on animation.[23] It was also Croatia's contender to the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1997, and was one of two animated submissions in that category, along with Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke from Japan.[8] Neither film, however, made it to the final list of nominations.

Lapitch went on to become the most successful theatrical release of Croatia's film industry (with over 355,000 viewers).[5][7] In France, it has sold over 300,000 copies since TF1 Video released it in 1999.[24] The German dub, from ProSieben Home Entertainment, sold up to 50,000 tapes by the end of 1999.[9]

In North America, it was the first film to be released in Sony Wonder's "Movie Matinee" series.[11] Originally planned for 12 October 1999,[25] it was not available until 8 February 2000. This version runs 75 minutes, edited down from the original 83-minute European cut. Coupons for the Commodore Cruise Line were included with all copies of the tape.[11] Arthur Taussig wrote of Lapitch in 2002: "The rather conservative animation in this Croatian production is spiked with interludes of brilliance, beauty, and outstanding imagination. It isn't Disney, but it is charming, entertaining, and full of good ideas for young kids."[26] The movie received a seal of approval from the Dove Foundation, which gave it three stars out of five.[27]

The German television channel ProSieben first aired Lapitch on 6 June 1998.[28] On 27 February 2000, it received its U.S. television premiere on the Disney Channel.[11]

The Croatian subsidiary of Egmont Publishing released a book adaptation of the film in 2001.[29] Three years later, it saw its premiere on DVD, both in Croatia[30] and the United States.[31]

Lapitch the Little Shoemaker was followed by a spin-off television series of 26 episodes, entitled Hlapićeve nove zgode in its native Croatia. The 26-episode series was a co-production of Croatia Film and EM.TV/HaffaDiebold, with animation by Barcelona's Neptuno Films.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Not featured in the 2000 U.S. version.


  1. ^ a b "Lapitch, der kleine Schuhmacher". FILME von A-Z (in German). Zweitausendeins. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d Marušić, Joško (2002-01-24). "Inozemni štanceraj". Vijenac (in Croatian). Matica hrvatska. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  3. ^ a b Bukovac, Petar (2000-11-05). "Nakon Šegrta Hlapića, uskoro nam dolaze i Priče iz davnine" (in Croatian). Vjesnik d.d. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  4. ^ a b Beširević, Natasa S. (2000-01-31). "Dis 281-zanimljivosti" (in Croatian). Croatian Information Centre. Retrieved 2009-05-10. Šegrt Hlapić na Disney Channelu. 
  5. ^ a b c "CHILDREN'S FILM PROGRAMME". Pula Film Festival. July 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  6. ^ "WORKING PART OF FESTIVAL". NAFF - NEUM ANIMATED FILM FESTIVAL. January 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
  7. ^ a b "Čudnovate zgode šegrta Hlapića" (in Slovenian). SloCartoon. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  8. ^ a b "44 Countries Hoping for Oscar Nominations" (Press release). Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 1997-11-24. Archived from the original on 13 February 1998. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  9. ^ a b c d Staff (1999-11-01). "Up next: What's developing in kids' production". Kidscreen. Brunico Communications Inc. Retrieved 2009-02-05. HaffeDiebold [sic] and Croatia Film let Lapitch loose 
  10. ^ a b c d Buterin, Antun Krešimir (1999-12-05). "Scenarij za seriju o našem šegrtu Hlapiću rade Britanci, a crtaju ga Koreanci!" (in Croatian). Vjesnik d.d. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  11. ^ a b c d McCormick, Moira (2000-02-05). "Child's Play: 'Cinderelmo' Gets Royal Treatment From Sony Wonder". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media (via Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  12. ^ a b "Guest page for Cathy Weseluck". Anime North. 2005. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  13. ^ "Credits for Lapitch, der kleine Schuhmacher" (in German). Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
  14. ^ "CANNES 2006: Le Village International accueille pour la première fois le pavillon de la Croatie" (in French). Ambassade de Croatie en France. May 2006. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  15. ^ a b "Croacia y la animación" (in Spanish). Encontrama (Blogspot). 2008-01-26. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  16. ^ "ANIMIRANI FILMOVI" (PDF) (in Croatian). Zagreb Film. 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  17. ^ "TV: [Stockholm, TV1000, 1997-12-30--1997-12-31]". SLBA katalog (in Swedish). Swedish National Archive of Recorded Sound and Moving Images/Statens ljud- och bildarkiv (SLBA). December 1997. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  18. ^ "Time line - 1997". Skopactel Group. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  19. ^ "Kategorija br.29: NAJBOLJA ORIGINALNA VOKALNA ILI INSTRUMENTALNA". PORIN 1998 (in Croatian). Institute of Croatian Music Industry/Institut Hrvatske Glazbene Industrije (IHGI). 1998. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  20. ^ "Dora '98 - Croatian entry". Hrvatska radiotelevizija (HRT). 1998. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  21. ^ "Album page for Mjesec iznad oblaka (Moon Above the Cloud)". (in English and Croatian). Skopactel Group. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  22. ^ "Lapitch, der Kleine Schuhmacher overview". Allmusic. All Media Guide/Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  23. ^ "Films in Competition (Cinanima)". Animation World Network (AWN). 1997. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  24. ^ "La Croatie: Culture et histoire" (in French). Ambassade de Croatie en France. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  25. ^ "1999 to finish year with video offerings for the entire family". Drug Store News (via Drug Store News. 1999-06-28. Retrieved 2007-04-30. 
  26. ^ Taussig, Arthur (February 2002). "Review of Lapitch the Little Shoemaker". Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  27. ^ "Review of Lapitch the Little Shoemaker". Dove Foundation. 2000. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  28. ^ "Lapitch, der kleine Schuhmacher - Sendetermine der TV-Serie" (in German). imfernsehen GmbH & Co. KG. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  29. ^ "Catalog information for Čudnovate zgode Šegrta Hlapića (2001)" (ISBN 953-187-399-2) (in Croatian). Gradska knjižnica i čitaonica Pula. 2006. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  30. ^ "Catalog information for Čudnovate zgode šegrta Hlapića (2004 DVD, ref. no. 441028021)" (in Croatian). Gradska knjižnica i čitaonica Požega. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  31. ^ Putzer, Gerry (2004-03-07). "LIFE LESSONS FROM JULIA / Fifties college drama gets an early graduation on disk". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2009-06-25. TREASURE TROVE FOR TINY COUCH POTATOES 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Nausikaya (1996)
Croatian submission to Best Foreign Language Film category, Academy Awards (U.S.)
Succeeded by
Transatlantic (1998)
Preceded by
Pom Poko (1994) ( Japan)
Animated submission to Best Foreign Language Film category, Academy Awards (U.S.)
1997 (also Princess Mononoke [ Japan])
Succeeded by
Manuelita (1999) ( Argentina)