Entomology and Animation: A Portrait of An Early Master Ladislaw Starewicz
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This is where the story gets muddled and out of pace, but what it lacks in structure it makes up for in style. A homeless drunk who tosses his liquor bottle into an alley introduces the night to us. The dark puddle of spilled alcohol mutates into a caricature of the devil, laughing and scheming. This transformation sets the tone for the rest of the night, as creatures of darkness begin to lurk and create mischief. The puppy doll, unfortunately, finds himself caught in the middle of this mayhem. He soon meets up with the dolls he had traveled with, though now they've been seduced by the machinations of the devil and take part in the mischief.

Eventually, the puppy doll escapes the turmoil and finds his way back to the doll maker's house, where he tosses pieces of orange into the surprised girl's mouth.

Even though The Mascot loses its focus, it isn't difficult to discern where its heart lies: in the simple theme of a search for goodness and generosity in the modern world. It seems that Starewicz may have lost sight momentarily of the age-old aphorism "less is more." He knew it well in his previous films, but perhaps for a brief period got caught up in the technical advances of his profession. Nonetheless, this film still displays his flare for building characters through subtle behavior, as well as the ease with which he can move these characters between fear and courage, surprise and familiarity, carelessness and responsibility, and through the decisions they must make to change their situations for better or worse.

The cinematic path that Starewicz began, though a refined one, has progressed throughout the century with the talent of such filmmaker/artists as George Pal, Jiri Trnka, Ray Harryhausen, Jan Svankmajer, the Brothers Quay, Nick Park, Peter Lord, Henry Selick and a handful of others. Thanks to them, as well as historians and preservationists, the legacy of Starewicz can be remembered and appreciated. These days most people will associate the word animation with Disney or 3D computer graphics, but it is to everyone's benefit to be aware of the impact and inspiration that lesser known animators, especially the pioneers, have had on the art of animation and filmmaking. Everything seen on the silver screen today has its antecedent, and recognition of that strengthens the convictions of new artists to build upon that tradition.

Eric Schneider is a freelance artist in the animation industry. He has produced short animated films, one of which screened in Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Animation Festival and another that is currently being presented at Previously, he served as Co-Editor of Kabinet, a grassroots film commentary magazine that was a perfect vehicle for him to discuss his "particular love for unknown, eclectic and misconstrued animated film." He holds a B.F.A. from N.Y.U. in Film.

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