Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Animator and Animation Reviews... Ladislaw Starewicz...

Ladislaw Starewicz was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1882. He is recognised by many names but was born Wladyslaw Starewicz. He was a stop-motion animator who used insect and animals as his protagonists. Starewicz became one of the few European animators to be known by name in America before the 1960's. His Russian films were known for their dark humour, althouh they were created with the target audience of children in mind. This was probably an inevitable consequence of the choice of dead beetles and grasshoppers as his subjects. Once he switched to using more ordinary puppets for his French films, his work became more lyrical. However, working independently had a negative effect and some consider the films too long, too lyrical, and too uncommercial. The films are united by their wild imagination though.

The Mascot follows the story of a toy stuffed dog who has just been sewn together when it hears a young child ask for an orange. The child's mother explains that the have no money, and so she cannot buy an orange. The dog is packed up with a box full of toys to be sold, and it soon winds up in the street where it picks up an orange from a curbside stand. From here-on-in we follow the dog on some strange and freightening occurances as it attempts to bring the orange back to the child. I'm not sure whether i found this animation visually stunning or freightening, maybe a bit of both, but i did find it hard to follow the narrative. I understood the goal and point to the story but the strange occurances that happened after the dog collects the orange had me baffled. It seems that Starewicz is no stranger to weird and surreal puppets/stop-motion animations, dead beetles and grasshoppers certainly wouldn't be my first choice. The characters in this animation are no exception to his other work, there is something very dark and surreal about their appearnce and it certainly doesn't have that appeal that we have gotten used to in Pizar animations. I'm still not quite sure what to think of the Mascot, but i'll keep an open mind on it i think.

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