The creators of beloved British Christmas animation The Snowman are making a new film, telling the amazing true story of Wotjek, a bear that fought with Allied forces in World War II.
Due to be released May 8, 2020, to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day, ‘A Bear Named Wotjek’ is being developed by Iain Harvey, executive producer of the 1982 television adaption of Raymond Briggs’s children’s story.
The short film was nominated for an Oscar and has become a cultural institution in the UK, with Channel 4 broadcasting it every Christmas — wreathing viewers young and old in smiles and tears alike. A team of around 30 animators is expected to work on the project, which could take up to a year to complete.
Wojtek’s real-life tale is likewise touching and heartbreaking in equal measure.
In the spring of 1942, while traveling to Tehran to join Allied British and Soviet forces, Polish soldiers purchased a bear cub from a young Iranian boy — they named him Wotjek, a Slavic name meaning ‘Happy Warrior’. He subsequently travelled with the soldiers to Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt.
When the time came for the Polish army to ship out to Europe, Wotjek was formally enlisted into the Polish army as a private — complete with pay book and serial number — to allow him to accompany his unit. He was later promoted to corporal.
His involvement in the military wasn’t…