CGAA Year 1

Unit 5

Ernesta Baniulyte

CG Arts and Animations Unit 5: Animation essay

Why Wladyslaw Starewicz is considerate as one of the most influential animator in the world?
Ernesta Baniulyte

Figure 1

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CGAA Year 1

Unit 5

Ernesta Baniulyte

This essay will analyse and discuss why Wladyslaw Starewicz (later on he changed his name to Ladislas Starevich), stop-motion animator, become such a successful persona during the period of the first World War. Wladyslaw Starewich is polish stop-motion animator, who was born and lived for 26 years in Kaunas, one of the biggest cities in Lithuania. He was one of the few European animators, whose works were well known even in the United States of America, at that time. To research our essays topic, we will look at his cultural background, biography, the situation in the world during the period he was creating, and of course the impact of W.Starewicz works to people who lived in the periods of the World War 1, Interwar and the Second World War. This essay will also be supported by several sources such as: book ‘History of Animated Cinema’ by Richard Neupert, ‘Russian Revolution 1900-27’ by Robert Service, ‘The frogs desiring a king’ fable by Aesop, articles about W. Starewicz, personal web-page created by animators granddaughter.

To begin with, Wladyslaw Starewicz worked as a Director in Museum in Natural History, in Kaunas, Lithuania, where he started to film documentary films about bug life, what grew up into his passion later on. First he started to film educational films about insects. However, even he tried many compositions and techniques of lighting; bugs appeared too dark in the movies. So, the animator decided to input wire legs into real dead bugs, for the sake to show the movement. That was the first step what gave a freedom to create perfect movements and humanize the characters. As Richard Neupert stated in his book ‘French Animation History’: ‘Whether working with real dead animals or stuffed toys, Ladislas Starevich managed to produce a fluidity in their gestures, thanks in part to his knowledge of anatomy. These smooth, purposeful, and even subtle of his figures gave his animation its 2

CGAA Year 1

Unit 5

Ernesta Baniulyte

distinction and popularity.’ [Neuper, ] That proves that his animating skills and realistic movement made his films so interesting and touched people’s emotions, because of the persuasive behaviour of characters. The characters were put in the stories, what made them humanized, what created an illusion as they had feelings too.

Furthermore, we should look at another important point: the period during animator lived and created. The period of pre-war and first world war was intense in the Russian Empire, where animator grew up. October revolution in 1917, made huge change in the Russian Empire at that time. Tsar Alexander Kerensky was replaced by the Bolsheviks, or in other words Red Army, which leader was Vladimir Lenin. [Service, 1999]As a supporter of the tsar, as many white side supporters W. Starewicz left Russia, where he lived and worked in his own movie studio at that time. He immigrated to France, where he spent all the rest of his life. [ls.pagesperso-oragne.fr, unknow] The political effect to the animator we can see in one of his movies ‘Frogland’ (1922). The movie was based on the fable by Aesop ‘The Frogs Desiring a King’ which tells how frogs wanted to have a king and asked Jove (Jupiter) for it. Jove sent Jog, however frogs were not satisfied and requested for another and better king. That made Jove angry and he sent the Stork, which gobbled them all. ‘Better no rule than cruel rule’ [aesops-fables.org.uk, unknown]. We can clearly see that this story can be easily applied to his political views: support of the tsar and fearing of evil red army forces. That was familiar to the First World War people; the reality was applied on the screen. So we can make a hypothesis that audience familiarized that with their own situation, what made it so successful.

In addition, the political situation in the eastern bloc countries made W. Starewicz to leave his native country and immigrate to the West. France was the country where animator made his most successful works and he had a chance not just to become the first stop-motion animator, working will puppets but also, to make a first movie with a sound and actual dialogue in it. Longest 3

CGAA Year 1

Unit 5

Ernesta Baniulyte

and probably the most successful movie ‘The tale of the fox’ was sound recorded in two languages: German and French. Skirmantas Valiulis says in his film festival review, that W. Starewicz works were so technically good and successful, that sometimes he is called ‘The eastern Walt Disney’. And actually animator was invited to work in this movie company, however refused because wanted to work for himself. [Valiulis, 2003] That just proves how talented and original W. Starewicz was. He brought new teqnique to the world and opened new world to the sound recorded movies, what clearly intrigued people in the first half of the 20th century.

Next, probably another reason why his works are so unique is that he mainly worked alone. However later on he had help from his daughter Irina (late or she changed her name to Irene) and his wife Ana. [cityout.lt, 2009] Benjaminas Zulys, tells that W. Starewiz was creating a masks for every scene. Thanks for him being good chemist, he knew the substances that led him to create perfect shapes and facial mimics. He worked alone, just with a help of his family, so no one actually knew what techniques/materials he used to create a puppets. Puppets were so realistic, that some people believed they are actually trained animals and bugs. That is where he get a name of ‘The bug trainer’ [Zulys, 2007] So another reason, why he is still conciderated as one of the most influential animator, because he worship of creating something unique, original and worked on his own. Also the fact that every detail starting from costumes and finishing with light was really important for the animator, created his movies so persuasive and realistic, that some current animators can hardly achieve. That makes him still interesting and really influential for nowadays artists.

The last but not least, many of W. Starewicz animations were influenced by his childhood, native nature and culture. Beatrice Leona Martin, granddaughter after the visit of his home country claimed that just after the visit she realized where W. Starewicz got the influence from. The artist one of the main influences were the green nature of his home country Lithuania. He brought some of the eastern beauty to the Western culture, what appeared something new and original to the Western world. We could not forget the fact 4

CGAA Year 1

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Ernesta Baniulyte

that animator lives in three countries what made him more multicultural and that can be clearly seen in his animations. [Zulys, 2007] To sum up, W. Starewicz brought new technique in the film industry. He not just became a first animator, who worked with dead insects, stuffed animals or puppets, but also created a first film with a soundtrack. Also, his works are still very influential for current animators, because of the techniques he used. Because of him being very good chemist and because of his anatomy knowledge, W’ Starewicz managed to create very realistic, professional and persuasive movies, what amazed people. He worked just with his family, what led him to be original, unique. The last but not least, the animator was really multicultural: lived in three different countries, during important events in the history, especially in the eastern bloc. That affected his animations and style in general. In w Starewicz’s animations we can see influences from all three countries, what makesanimations unique and interesting. All in all, W. Starewicz was great stop – motion animator, which is still influential for nowdays artists.

Illustration List

Figure 1, xxiamzius.lt (unknown), [online] http://www.xxiamzius.lt/numeriai/2007/09/05/kult_02.html [accessed 17/04/2012]

Bibliography

Aesops-fables.org.uk (unknown) [online] http://www.aesopsfables.org.uk/aesop-fable-the-frogs-desiring-a-king.htm [accessed 16/04/2012]

Animest.ro (unknown) [online] http://www.animest.ro/ladislas-starevich-andvlasov-s-best-friend-a-one-of-a-kind-event-to-close-anim-est.aspx [accessed 16/04/2012]

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CGAA Year 1 Cityout.lt (2009) film review [online]

Unit 5

Ernesta Baniulyte

http://www.cityout.lt/kinas/articles/Kino_maratonas_Vladislavas_Starevicius_ Walt_Disney [accessed 17/04/2012]

Ls.pagesperso-orange.fr (unknown) [online] http://ls.pagespersoorange.fr/tbiograp.htm [accessed 17/04/2012] Neuper, Richard (2011), ‘French Animation History’, Wiley-Blackwell, UK Service, Robert (1999), ‘The Russian Revolution 1900-27’, Palgrave Macmillan, 3rd revised edition, UK ‘Vabalu Dresuotojas’ (‘The bug trainer’) (), biography film about W. Starewicz,

Valiulis, Skirmantas (2003), The review of the film festival in Lithuania [online] http://www.culture.lt/7md/?st_id=1961 [accessed 17/04/2012]

Zulys, Benjaminas (2007), [online] http://www.xxiamzius.lt/numeriai/2007/09/05/kult_02.html [accessed 17/04/2012]

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