I wonder if Franz Kafka ever saw Wladyslaw Starewicz’s 1912 animation The Cameraman’s Revenge before writing Metamorphosis in 1915? It’s an interesting thought, but if Starewicz’s use of insects (especially beetles) to animate a tale of adultery and revenge didn’t influence Metamorphosis then it has certainly influenced succeeding generations of animators like Jiri Trnka and Terry Gilliam.
Starewicz started his career in 1911, making puppet films with dead animals (the mind boggles), and from this he developed an array of techniques, which he successfully employed in The Cameraman’s Revenge, a landmark film that offered a template for future animators. So real was the film to audiences that some reviewers thought Starewicz had trained insects to “perform” for the camera. Even watching it today, The Cameraman’s Revenge is a delightful and surreal treat.
Starewicz made dozens of films throughout his fifty-plus year career, sometomes mixing live action, stop-motion and animation. His best known stop motion films are, The Night Before Christmas (1913), The Insects’ Christmas (1913), The Frogs Who Wanted a King (1923), The Voice of a Nightingale (1923), and The Tale of the Fox (1939).
During the Russian Revolution, Starewicz sided with the anti-Bolshevik White Army, and after Lenin’s successful rise to power, Starewicz moved to France, where he spent the rest of his life making his own distinct films.
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With thanks to Alessandro Cima