Watch The Insects’ Christmas from 1913: A Stop Motion Film Starring a Cast of Dead Bugs

Kind Read­er,

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.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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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