Photo provided by Webster Colcord
(Special Thanks to Sven Tegethoff, Kevin Stussman,
and Bendazzi's "One Hundred Years of Cinema Animation")
"The Cameraman's Revenge"
Wladyslaw Starewicz' childhood passion for entomology led his career: he began producing short documentaries in Moscow around 1909-1910, beginning with a documentary about insects in Lithuania. In his spare time, he experimented with stop-action films using beetles, which he articulated by wiring the legs to the thorax with sealing wax! This, of course, led to his big breakthrough, released by the Van Kanjonkov Studio of Moscow: "The Battle of the Stag Beetles", the first puppet-animated film.
[Note: Emile Cohl previously used stop-motion animation to make a public service announcement film, "The Animated Matches," in 1908... Starewicz was the first to do anything more advanced (i.e., using puppets, telling a story) with the technique.]
"...[After the British screening of Starewicz' 1911 film "Beautiful Leukanida,"] London newspapers wrote that the insects were alive, trained by an unidentified Russian scientist..."
Starewicz' popularity grew quickly... his third film, "The Ant & The Grasshopper", earned him an honor from the Tsar himself. At that time Starewicz also played some comedic roles in polish dramas, decorated some churches (!), and "people say he always drew attention to himself at the ball by wearing the most wonderful costumes." He produced dozens of works during this period, including "Insects Aviation Week" (1912), "Four Devils" (1913) and "Voyage To the Moon" (1913).
"The Tale of the Fox
(Le Roman de Renard)"
The Russian Revolution caused Wladyslaw to emigrate. He fled to Paris, France, arriving in 1920, where he became known as Ladislas Starevich. He settled in a villa in Fontenay-sous-Bois, where he spent the rest of his life producing surreal, lyrical animation. With great patience and attention to detail, he wrote or adapted the stories; designed and built the puppets, sets and costumes; articulated every movement; and shot each film frame-by-frame, often without continuity notes. After 1924, his daughter, Irene (aka Nina Starr), assisted with and appeared in many of his films. Fiercely independent, Starewicz rejected lucrative offers from American animation studios, rather than relinquish creative control.
At his villa home, he was known for his generosity and hospitality, especially to his fellow refugees from the Soviet Union.
Although "The Mascot" is his best known film in America, his best film is probably "The Tale of the Fox (Le Roman de Renard," a film which took over ten years to make, and is considered to be one of the very best stop-motion films ever made. At his death in 1965, he left one unfinished work: "Like Dog and Cat".
Despite his influence on many of today's animators, which is seen in such films as Henry Selick's "James & the Giant Peach," Starewicz is under-recognized today because many of his films were considered lost, and those which exist are rarely screened. However, the British Film Institute has been locating and restoring early prints, and several video compilations have reached the home market.
The rest of my Starewicz site:
A Short Biography The Other "-Ographies" : Filmography, Videography, Bibliography and Puppetography (Revised 10/2/99) Frogland (Revised 10/2/99) The Mascot, a/k/a Puppet Love, a/k/a The Devil's Ball (Revised 10/2/99) Nose to the Wind Winter Carousel (Revised 10/2/99) The Cameraman's Revenge (Revised 10/2/99) The Insect's Christmas (Revised 10/2/99) Voice of the Nightingale (Revised 10/2/99) Tale of the Fox (Revised 10/2/99) Short Takes: "The Scarecrow", "Town Rat, Country Rat" Back to Animation of Heaven & Hell! Home Page
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This page was created and on 6/30/96,
Last Revised on 7/12/97