Starewitch

This afternoon at the Renoir Cinema, a documentary was screened on the life of Ladislaw Starewitch.

Starewitch is marked as the inventor of stop motion character animation. His experiment began after unsuccessful attempts to film beetles in combat. Considering them incompetent in following his direction, he was compelled to kill them and take care of the action on their behalf. This he did by removing the legs and re-assembling the bodies with pins wire and wax so that they could be controlled and maneuvered. It seems that in 1911 when “The Beautiful Leukanida” was shown to audiences, they were convinced he was a magnificent trainer of insects.

After a series of wonderfully choreographed insect films, he started to make puppets, some of which were built to huge proportions in order so they could make every possible human  facial expression.

Ladislaw-Starewicz

Starevitch Grenouille

He moved to Paris and had great success as a film maker, but was cautious about sharing his techniques. His crew consisted only of those he trusted with his secrets; his wife and daughters, who worked vigilantly and silently beside him. The documentary was unconventional. It was narrated by an animated bug who fell in love with a Starewicz puppet and burnt his wings in a film projector. Contributing to the story of the animator were historians and professors from Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Norway… and The Quay Brothers, brought together in a peculiar narrative alongside the bug, and who were embarrassingly forced to use cardboard props, and switch on lamps after talking in the dark for a number of sentences.  Despite that, the content was fascinating and has left me quite a hungry investigator.

“Le Roman Renard”

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