The Bug Trainer – The Story of Władysław Starewicz
Władysław Starewicz was born in 1882 in Moscow to a Polish family (through his places of residence and work he would become acquainted with Lithuanian, Russian and French cinematography). He spent his childhood and youth in Kaunas in present-day Lithuania where, as a four-year-old boy, he was adopted by his mother’s parents after she died. Early drawings revealed his significant artistic talent – he liked photography and was interested in cinematography, which at the time was still an innovation, as well as nature, particularly in the insects which he so passionately collected.
The latter interest, combined with the future director's extraordinary ingenuity and talent, brought about the creation of Walka Żuków (The Battle of the Stag Beetles), in 1910 at his home workshop in Kaunas – his first animated film. The protagonists were dissected stag beetles put back to life by the artist. He used wires to put their limbs back on, dressed them in knight outfits and then moved them, capturing individual movement phases frame by frame. It was then that he invented the technique of animated film – discovered a little earlier by artists from France and the USA – and realised one of the world's first puppet animations.