The six shorts on this presentation offer animation buffs a look at the work of the pioneer stop-motion artist Ladislas Starewicz (1882-1965), whose films have been difficult to find in the West. Born in Moscow to a family of Polish origin, Starewicz displayed early interests in photography and entomology. He began experimenting with animation in 1910, when the stag beetles he wanted to film fighting refused to cooperate. These experiments led to The Cameraman's Revenge
(1912), a droll tale of insect infidelity. Starewicz's most satisfying films involve insects and other bizarre creatures. The Frogs Who Wanted a King
(1922), an adaptation of Aesop's fable, is crowded with the odd little amphibians who petition Jupiter for a king--and pay dearly for their folly. The eerie revels held by a devil doll and his grotesque, skeletal followers in the live-action and animation combination The Mascot
(1933) are far more entertaining than the adventures of the little stuffed puppy whose heart is a mother's tear. The scenes of the puppy and the saccharine sequences in The Voice of the Nightingale
recall the criticisms leveled at Starewicz's feature, Le Roman de Renard
(The Tale of the Fox
, 1937): the images are often beautiful, but the pacing is very slow, with little acting in the animation. Contains bizarre imagery and minor violence; suitable for ages 12 and older. --Charles Solomon
The legendary Ladislaw Starewicz created some of the most imaginative and loveliest works of puppet animation ever filmed. While working in Russia, he directed his first classic "The Cameraman's Revenge" (1912), a story of love and infidelity among the insects, and the recently rediscovered "The Insect's Christmas" (1913), a dazzlingly beautiful film of the Yuletide celebrations of a Christmas-tree ornament and his tiny friends. After relocating to Paris, Starewicz made the political allegory "Frogland" (1922), the gorgeous hand-colored fable "Voice of the Nightingale" (1923), the irresistible "The Mascot" (1933), and the snowland fantasy "Winter Carousel" (1958). Starewicz's grasshoppers, dogs, frogs, dolls and other creatures portray heroics and follies with an exuberance of humor and invention. They will delight viewers both young and old!