Completed in 1931 Starewicz’s masterly puppet animation was arguably the worlds first animated feature, preceding Disney’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs by some seven years. Whilst often referred to by film historians, The Tale Of The Fox, like a great many animated films, was thought lost and only known by reputation and a few stills until archivists rediscovered an old print in the early 80s. Finally it is now completely restored, including a new orchestral backing to the original Vincent Scotto score.
This adaptation of an old German folk story, as told by Goethe, becomes in Starewicz’s hands a wonderfully inventive, often hilarious mock medieval epic. It tells the story of a wily fox who manages to outwit the court of King Lion and the rest of the animal kingdom. He is finally made Prime Minister, on the theory that if you can’t beat them, have them join you. In the finest tradition of political aspirants, Fox uses every dirty trick in the book to attain his position. He’s a name caller, a tail puller, a fiend; very much a 90s hero, one shudders to think how the film was received in the early thirties.
Unprecedented in the history of animation in its scope and achievements, The Tale Of The Fox took some ten years to prepare, 18 months to shoot and features a cast that seems to comprise the entire animal kingdom. Through all this, Starewicz is said to have worked with only the casual assistance of his daughter Irene and a few other animation assistants.
An undoubted influence on the whole wave of East European animators of the 60’s and 70’s (Jan Svankmajer, Jiri Barta etc), and one that can be seen still in the work of The Brothers Quay, bolexbrothers and even Tim Burton, Wladyslaw Starewicz’s time has, belatedly, come. —Melbourne International Film Festival
Wladeslaw Starewicz was an animation pioneer; he was the first director to realize the potentials of stop-motion animation, before him the technique was only used in a public service announcement. Born in 1882 in present-day Vilnius, Starewicz began his career in Russia in 1909 with a short film on insects, a subject he would use frequently in his subsequent work. Starewicz’s 1913 film, The Ant and the Grasshopper, won him the praise of the Tsar. Following the revolution, Starewicz moved to France where he continued to make films. While Starewicz was offered money to work for American studios, he refused, preferring his creative independence. Starewicz is said to have an influence on animation comparable to that of Walt Disney, in spite of the fact that many of his works are now considered lost. Starewicz passed away in 1965. —Seagull Films
Everybody should see this animation,not the crap that's coming into theaters now.Simply wonderful.