The legendary Ladislaw Starewicz created some of the most imaginative and loveliest works of puppet animation ever filmed. While working in Russia, he directed his first classic "The Cameraman's Revenge" (1912), a story of... more » love and infidelity among the insects, and the recently rediscovered "The Insects' Christmas" (1913), a dazzlingly beautiful film of the yuletide celebrations of a Christmas-tree ornament and his tiny friends. After relocating to Paris, Starewicz made the political allegory "Frogland" (1922), the gorgeous hand-colored fable "Voice of the Nightingale" (1923), the irresistible "The Mascot" (1933) and the snowland fantasy "Winter Carousel" (1958). Starewicz's grasshoppers, dogs, frogs, dolls and other creatures portray heroics and follies with an exuberance of humor and invention. A delight for viewers both young and old!« less
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 02/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This charming DVD turned out to be quite a surprise and got me wanting to watch it over and over again. The six short films on this disc are all quite different and span 46 years of animator Ladislaw Starewicz's work (1912-1958), but have in common the most impressive and unusual puppet animation I've ever seen. The first scenes (Cameraman's Revenge) are already most striking: very realistic-looking insects moving and behaving like people in a house, in a very human story about infidelity, complete with a good dose of humour and sarcasm - and all this in the year 1912! The next short film (they average around 10 minutes each, with the exception of "The Mascot" which is 26 minutes) also features insects, and then frogs take centre stage in the third film that deals with a political theme. In all of them I was struck by the realistic and smooth motions of all the 'characters', as well as the humorous storyline. If you have an aversion to insects and/or frogs, you'll be relieved when the fourth film ("Voice of the Nightingale") features birds and a real girl, and this time the film has lovely stencil colour - a technique applied to some early silent films - which makes it look like a soft pastel or watercolour painting, and it perfectly suits the fairytale feeling of this delightful story. Perhaps the most impressive of them all is "The Mascot" which features toys, dolls and other strange creatures coming to life, the mascot being a cute stuffed toy trying to get back home after being taken away with other toys. In this one, animated toys and puppets merge impressively with real street scenes and people, and dolls become so humanlike that it's scary. Finally, the last one from 1958 is in full colour and different once again, and although the last two films are from the sound era, hardly a word is spoken, which I think emphasizes the visual impact of the puppet animation. Although I'm not very familiar with animation in general and what it involves, I can't help being very impressed by Starewicz's talent and skill, and no doubt he desevers a prominent place in the pioneering and development of puppet animation. Definitely a must for anyone interested in animation, and certainly recommended for anyone curious to see something different, special and unforgettable."
A must view for any fans of modern stop-motion
K. P. Brown | New Zealand | 03/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow. I was very impressed with Starewicz's work. More so than I had expected to be. Not only is it stand alone brilliant but you can clearly see where and how animators like Svankmajer and the Quays were influenced by his work. I agree with the descriptive details in the review above and I really can't reccomend this enough to anyone into animation or silent/classic films. The man was so far ahead of his time it hurts. I waited a while for this film to become available again for purchase but it was WELL worth it and it is not something I could find at a video library/store where I live so it was even more satisfying."
Great ideas come from the past!
E.Levi | 07/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Cold wars apart, "The Cameraman's Revenge & Other Fantastic Tales" gives us a great complement for the already aesthetically enjoyable collection (visually, narratively and musically), "Masters of Russian Animation" vols. 1-4 (available through Amazon.com).
Even if I may not agree with the "beautiful tinted" status given by Film Preservation Associates and Image Entertainment to some shorts originally in black and white, it is good to acknowledge the DVD editors efforts to get together some of Starewicz's outstanding operas.
"Fetiche Mascotte" (1933) deserves a special mention. Maybe just a simple coincidence, but its narrative feels like a great source of inspiration to modern animation plots like Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993), -which, by the way, has a devil character quite similar to one appeared in this Starewicz's short- and John Lasseter's "Toy Story" (1995). However, this is only a personal point of view.
Good sound clarity during the whole DVD, makes me wonder how great it would be to have equal image quality clear of dust spots, and missing or blurry frames (maybe in future editions or new collections).
I hope Film Preservation Associates and Image Entertainment keep their interest in a second volume of Starewicz's shorts including "Lucanus Cervus" (1910), "Prekrasnaya Lyukanida" (1910), "Strekoza i muravey" (1913), "Devi gory" (1919) and the great "Le Roman de Renard" (1930)."
Fiona | 06/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Starewicz's films are AMAZINGLY done, considering how much of his work was done in the 1910's. That aside, his stories, are funny, touching, and full of heart. I haven't seen all the films in this collection, but the Mascot is wonderful, and his insect movies achieve a range of expression I would not have thought possible with insect puppets."
Longing for more Starewicz
cinephile | Oklahoma | 09/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's been about 8 years since I first heard the name Ladislas Starevitch. Then someone told me it was Ladislaw Starewicz. Sigh. Even if I got the name wrong, there's no mistaking genius. Sadly, in the film world Willis O'Brien is hailed for his brilliant stop-motion work, and Starewicz seems to go almost unknown.
I don't know how much of his work has been lost, but Starewicz was the pioneer of stop-motion, and it's a shame that more isn't available on DVD. Some of the works collected here are pre-WWI, and they were ALL created far from Hollywood.
Oh yeah-- the review. Well, what can I say? These short films range from the touching to the bizarre (I never associated frogs with Christmas), and the masterpiece of the collection is "The Mascot". I believe it was released the same year as "King Kong". Comparing the technique of the two films is very thought-provoking.
"The Mascot" appears to have been an immense undertaking. I can only imagine what Starewicz thought when he saw "King Kong" being released the same year. If you're a fan of stop-motion, or if you're just interested in what passed for kids' stuff before Disney, you should check this out. "