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Wladyslaw Starewicz DIRECTOR


Although the name Wladyslaw Starewicz (also known as Ladislas Starevitch) is unfamiliar to many, except maybe knowledgeable animation fans, he was one of the great pioneers of stop-motion animation, a type of film in which hundreds of frames are pieced together to give the illusion of continuous motion. In his career, which started nearly a decade before the illustrious Walt Disney’s, he managed to bring to life inanimate puppets and delight audiences with his camera magic.

Starewicz was born August 6, 1882 in Russia. His career started at a young age; as a child he was fascinated by insects, and he decided to buy a camera to film them. However, they kept dying under the hot lights. He found a way to use this to his advantage. By dismembering the limbs of his bugs and reattaching them, he discovered he could manipulate their movements.

In 1910, he was named Director of the Museum of Natural History in Kovno, Lithuania. There, after making some documentary films for the museum, he made his first movie, “Lucanus Cervus” (1910). It was a recreation of a stag beetle battle he had witnessed, but been unable to capture, and the first ever animated puppet film with a storyline. In 1911, Starewicz moved to Moscow and joined the film company Aleksandr Khanzhonkov to film a dozen or so more stop-action pictures, many of which starred dead animals. His works were so realistic that after a British showing of “Prekrasnaya Lyukanida” (1912), London newspapers claimed that the insects in the picture were alive and had been trained by an unidentifiable Russian scientist.

Starewicz’s popularity grew quickly, his film “The Grasshopper and the Ant” (1913) even earned him an honor from the czar. Other pictures, like “The Revenge of a Kinematograph Cameraman” (1912), “The Terrible Vengeance” (1913), and “The Night Before Christmas” (1913) also fared well and earned critical praise.

During World War II, the animator worked on a number of films for an assortment of studios. When the Russian Revolution hit in 1920, he decided to relocate to France. He moved into a small house in Fontenay-sous-Bois and started working on a series of puppet animations that would keep him content until his death. His wife France, and later daughter Irine, helped him create his works from the ground up. Some of his more notable features include “The Frogs Who Wanted a King” (1924), “The Story of the Fox” (1930), and “The Mascot” (1934). Starewicz was working on another feature, “Like Dog and Cat”, when he died on February 28, 1965. To pay respect to the great animator, the film was kept unfinished.

While his works were intended for children, the grotesque and extremely realistic characters he employed and bizarre situations he put them in, would prove to be rather strange to kids of this time. Still, there is no argument that his animations were technically flawless; rarely was a wire seen, scenes were intricate, and the puppets had a life to them. As well, he stayed with the times. When color and sound were being added to other pictures, his pictures were already boasting them. In addition, he always remained true to his vision. Although American animation studios had offered him opportunities to join them, he declined in order to retain control over the content of his work.


2003       Les contes de l'horloge magique   

1958       Winter Carousel 

1956       Nose to the Wind 

1949       Fleur de fougère

1936       Fétiche en voyage de noces 

1934       The Mascot  

1934       Fétiche prestidigitateur

1932       Deux fables de La Fontaine

1930       The Story of the Fox  

1928       Love in Black and White 

1928       The Little Parade 

1928       L'horloge magique ou La petite fille qui voulait être princesse  

1927       Jugendrausch 

1927       The Town Rat and the Country Rat

1925       La voix du rossignol

1925       Eyes of the Dragon

1925       Only a Country Lass 

1925       In the Spider's Grip e des rues

1924       The Frogs Who Wanted a King 

1921       The Scarecrow 

1921       Midnight Wedding

1920       Iola  

1919       Maiden's Mountains

1918       Kaliostro

1916       Na Varshavskom trakte

1915       Ruslan and Ludmilla

1915       Liliya Belgii 

1915       The Habitant of the Desert Isle

1914       How the German General Signed a Pact with the Devil

1914       Mars' Stepson

1913       The Insects' Christmas

1913       The Night Before Christmas 

1913       The Little House in Kolomna

1913       The Four Devils 

1913       The Terrible Vengeance 

1913       The Grasshopper and the Ant 

1912       The Revenge of a Kinematograph Cameraman 

1912       Prekrasnaya Lyukanida 

1912       Happy Scenes from Animal Life

1910       Lucanus Cervus    

Matinee Classics - Nose to the Wind directed by Wladyslaw Starewicz
Matinee Classics - The Cameraman's Revenge directed by Wladyslaw Starewicz
Matinee Classics - The Cameraman's Revenge directed by Wladyslaw Starewicz

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