Will you do us the honor of accepting our holiday invitation?
Carve five minutes from your holiday schedule to spend time celebrating The Insects’ Christmas, above.
In addition to offering brief respite from the chaos of consumerism and modern expectations, this simple stop-motion tale from 1913 is surprisingly effective at chasing away holiday blues.
Not bad for a short with a supporting cast of dead bugs.
Animator Ladislas Starevich began his cinematic manipulations of insect carcasses early in the 20th century while serving as Director of Kaunas, Lithuania’s Museum of Natural History. He continued the experiment after moving to Moscow, where he added such titles as Insects’ Aviation Week, Amusing Scenes from the Life of Insects and famously, The Cameraman’s Revenge, a racy tale of passion and infidelity in the insect world.
The Insects’ Christmas is far gentler.
Think Froggy Went a Courtin’, or Miss Spider’s Wedding with an old time Christmas spin
Shades too of Johnny Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann and other stories wherein toys wait for their human owners to retire, so they may spring to life—though Starewizc’s sleepy doll seems to have more in common with the Christmas tree’s absent owners than the tiny Father Christmas ornament who clamors down to party al fresco with the insects.
Contemporary composer Tom Peters underscores the wholesome vintage action—skiing, skating, squabbling over a Christmas cracker—with a mix of traditional carols and original music performed on ukulele, drum, and a six-string electric bass with a 5-octave range.
And the moment when Father Christmas conjures festive decorations for a Charlie Brown-ish tree is truly magical. See if your littlest Hayao Miyazaki fan doesn’t agree.
Enjoy more of Ladislas Starevich’s stopmotion ouevre on YouTube, as well some of Tom Peters’ other scores for silent films.
The Cameraman’s Revenge (1912): The Truly Weird Origin of Modern Stop-Motion Animation
The Tale of the Fox: Watch Ladislas Starevich’s Animation of Goethe’s Great German Folktale (1937)
The History of Stop-Motion Films: 39 Films, Spanning 116 Years, Revisited in a 3-Minute Video
Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Join her in NYC on Monday, January 6 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates Cape-Coddities (1920) by Roger Livingston Scaife. Follow her @AyunHalliday.
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