Christmas on Film: ‘The Insects’ Christmas’ (1913)

This wonderful early example of stop-motion animation was made in Russia just before the First World War. A charming and quirky film, this is the work of the relatively unknown animation pioneer Wladyslaw Starewicz (1882-1965). Starting work in animation at least ten years before Walt Disney (who, as we know, grabbed all the headlines) and almost by accident, Starewicz produced films in Lithuania, Russia and France over a long career that lasted until his death in the mid-1960s.

His interest in insects ran alongside his interest in film, eventually resulting in works like The Insects’ Christmas. In 1910, he became Director of the Museum of Natural History in Kaunas (Lithuania), where he studied various bugs and beetles by filming their activities. This obviously inspired him, and these creepy-crawlies became insect puppets after their short lives were over, transforming into his stars in imaginative works like this.

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Quote of the Day: Back in the USSR?

I love this.

Rock ‘n’ roll has always been rebel music. Or at least that’s how it started out anyway. And nowhere was it more rebellious to be into western rock music than the Soviet bloc of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, a place where authoritarian leaders frowned upon western pop cultural icons like rock bands and blue jeans.

In the USSR, the government saw itself as all-powerful, and what it said went. This was reiterated by the two major media organs of the state: Pravda (or ‘Truth’), the official voice of the Russian Communist Party, and Izvestia (or ‘The News’), the official media outlet of the Soviet government.

These were powerful papers, but many Russians naturally took their on-message pronouncements with a rather large pinch of salt – hence the old Soviet joke that there was no news in the Truth and no truth in the News! It seems in some ways almost inevitable, then, that western music – the Beatles in particular – would have such an impact on Russian youth culture.

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