WLADYSLAW STAREWICZ BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
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 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
1919 Maiden's Mountains
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