Over a century ago viewers already enjoyed animation in Russia. Ladislas Starevich (Władysław Starewicz, born in Moscow to Polish parents in 1882) was a photography and entomology enthusiast. Employed by the Museum of Natural History, Starevich, passionate about new media, created a series of documentaries. For one of the films about stag beetles, he had to create puppets out of insects. Lucanus Cervus shot in 1910 was the first stop-motion effort of Starevich. The animation effort was highly praised by one of the first Russian producers, Aleksandr Khanzhonkov. Soon other animation shorts followed featuring puppets created out of insects, wire, and wax. Early viewers sometimes assumed that films featured live insects were trained by Starevich
The first feature stop-motion film by Starevich
1910 – The Beautiful Lukanida (Прекрасная Люканида, или Война усачей с рогачами), a parody on early history blockbusters.
1912 – The Cameraman’s Revenge (Месть кинематографического оператора), a parody on melodrama
1911 – The Insects’ Christmas (Рождество обитателей леса)
1913 – The Ant and the Grasshopper (Муравей и Стрекоза) based on Aesop’s fable
Like many artists, Starevich moved to France after the Bolshevik revolution. Unlike many Russian directors and actors, Starevich built a successful career in cinema and animation in the interwar period. Some of his works include:
1923 – The Frogs Who Wanted a King – based on the fable by La Fontaine
1930 – The Tale of the Fox / Le Roman de Renard – the first full-length animated film
1934 – The Mascot – a story of a puppy that was so popular that Starevich was asked to create a series with the same character.