Ladislas Starewicz Biography


Ladislas Starewicz was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1882. He was moved all around the Russian Emprire until he settled down in Kovno, Lithuania, when he was just short of twenty years old. It was there that he became the head of the Museum of Natural History in Kovno. He used the museum as a sort of playground, making four short films while he was working there. Starewicz found inspiration to make a film with two beetles, but found it difficult when the beetles would fall asleep under the lights instead of fighting like he wanted. It was here that he first dabbled in stop-motion animation. He created puppets out of the beetles and staged their fight, filming it frame by frame.

It wasn't long before he returned to Moscow, where he worked under Aleksandr Khanzhonkov using the same form of dead animal puppets. This is where Starewicz did his best work. Between 1912 and 1913, Starewicz created his best known films. The Beautiful Leukanida was his first famous work, earning international acclaim for realism. British tabloids picked up on it and reported that the Russians had figured out a way to control beetles, and the buzz around Starewicz was growing. Before long, he created The Grasshopper and the Ant, and was decorated by the Tsar himself. His next film, The Cameraman's Revenge, is one of his most famous works, depicting a cheating beetle being caught on camera.

After the Russian Revolution, Starewicz fled to France, where he would spend the rest of his life working on his animation. He was offered plenty of jobs in America working at animation studios but he turned them all down to work on his own animation. With the assistance of his daughter, Irina, they created many more films, like his award-winning The Night Before Christmas. He introduced sound and puppets when they were available and worked on animation with only his daughter as his assistant until his death. Starewicz passed away mid-production of Like Dog and Cat, which was left unfinished. He created fifty films in his lifetime - most of them award winning or drawing some recognition. Since his death, however, his films have been hard to find. The British Film Institute is working on restoring them.

References

"Ladislas Starevich." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 14 Sept. 2010. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladislas_starewicz.

Ladislas Starewicz Home Page. AWN | Animation World Network. Web. 14 Sept. 2010. www.awn.com/heaven_and_hell/stare/stare1.htm. (The link is broken, but the site is searchable--10/27/10)

"Ladislaw Starewicz - Writer - Films as Director and Animator:, Live-Action Films as Director:, Other Films:, Publications." Film Reference. Web. 14 Sept. 2010. www.filmreference.com/writers-and-production-artists-sh-sy/starewicz-ladislaw.html.

Stites, Richard. "Dusky Images of Tsarist Russia: Prerevolutionary Cinema." http://www.filmreference.com/writers-and-production-artists-sh-sy/starewicz-ladislaw.html (1994): 285-95.



--Kristina Mahar, 2010.

Ladislas Starewicz