Starevitch ImageLadislas Starevitch began working with motion pictures while at the Museum of Natural History at Korvo, Russia. Starevitch was attempting to document insect life with motion pictures, and he began experimenting with animation when stag beetles he was trying to film became lethargic under the heat of the bright movie lights. Starevitch constructed realistic models of stag beetles, and recreated their actions through stop-motion animation. In doing so, Starevitch discovered the possibilities of puppet animation.

Starevitch's stop-motion insects soon became actors in humorous little social satires often based on Aesop's fables, where they were joined by ants, frogs, birds, and other animated creatures. Although this sort of animation ultimately became synonymous with children's films, Starevitch's early animated films were aimed directly at an adult audience. His "Revenge of the Movie Cameraman" (1912), for instance, is a bedroom farce dealing with the marital sqabbles between two adulterous beetles. Starevitch's film "The Mascot" contains some of the darkest, most disturbing, imagery ever created for the cinema, and is practically guaranteed to unsettle the dreams of any viewer, regardless of their age. Starevitch is perhaps the only animator of his generation who surpassed the nightmarish qualities of the darkest elements found in the early cartoon features from the Walt Disney Studios.

Starevitch directed live action films as wells as animation, and many of his best animated films incorporated live action footage through editing and projection techniques. Starevitch's daughter, Nina, was featured in some of these films.

The influence of Ladislas Starevitch can be seen in the sort of visually disturbing films of contemporary animators such as like the Brothers Quay, and films like Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas.

Born Wladyslaw Starewicz, Vilma, Poland, August 6, 1892; died 1965.

Ladislas Starevitch Filmography.

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Copyright 1996 E.H. Larson.