Friday, July 3, 2009

WATCH: Arthropoda animation, "The Cameraman's Revenge" (1912) by Wladyslaw Starewicz

Killing bugs for the screen

Another regional cinematic obscurity, Russian-born Wladyslaw Starewicz: etymologist-filmmaker and stop motion pioneer.

Yes, bug vs. camera... something had to give for this guy. And his method of animation was pragmatic genius. Stymied by an inability to control his shelled subjects, eureka was found in the form of stop-motioned dead. He in fact removed the limbs of grasshoppers, beetles, dragonflies and the like and then supplemented them with wax prosthetics, which were manipulated between takes. The results were singular, effective and influential (if not more than a little creepy). 

"The Cameraman's Revenge" (1912, 13 minutes) is his first short with a narrative. And it is as cynical as you would expect when having dead bugs as the players: 

"It is about infidelity among the insects, a topic which dare I say has never before or after been attempted on film.

It opens with Mr. Beetle going to town "on business," to stop at "The Gay Dragonfly," a burlesque parlor.

He meets a dancer who he takes to a hotel room... the grasshopper at left wanted her too, though, and he is mad at the beetle's rudeness... he's also got a movie camera!"

There is a shrewd plot twist that I won't reveal:

WATCH: Freakish Soviet horror film, Viy (1967)WATCH: Surrealist stop motion, Street of Crocodiles (1986) by the Brothers Quay


The Scrybe said...

Ha, I enjoyed this.
"Mr Beetle is generous..."

fucoid said...

cool, glad someone got something out of it. i was pretty blown away by his stuff. i saw a clip of his in the Basquiat bio-pic and never forgot it. i will post another one. yeah, and so generous!