Director: Władysław Starewicz
Release Date: November 9, 1912
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

The Cameraman's Revenge © Ladislaw Starewicz‘The Cameraman’s Revenge’ is one of the earliest animation films ever made, and a very early masterpiece (it predates ‘Gertie the Dinosaur‘ by two years). Surprisingly, it’s a film about adultery involving insects.

The plot of this stop motion film is as follows: Mr. Beetle commits adultery with a dragonfly, who is a dancer at a nightclub. Unbeknownst to him his secret behavior is filmed by a rival grasshopper who happens to be a cameraman. Meanwhile, Mrs. Beetle also commits adultery, with a beetle who is also a painter. But they’re discovered by Mr. Beetle on his arrival home. Mr. Beetle chases the painter out of his house. Nevertheless he forgives his wife and takes her to the cinema. However, the film that is shown reveals his infidelity, which creates a riot and the married couple ends in jail for destroying the movie box.

‘The Cameraman’s Revenge’ is an extraordinary film, and without doubt one of the first masterpieces of animation. Unlike Émile Cohl’s stop motion, Starewicz’s animation is stunning and very convincing. The insects are very lifelike, and move surprisingly realistically. The insects’ gestures are subtle, clearly evoking their emotions. For example, there’s a beautiful and very lifelike little scene of a beetle servant lighting the fireplace, animated without any hint of overacting. On the other hand, Mr. Beetle clearly is a brute, but we can also watch him in a seductive mood.

Throughout, Starewicz’s storytelling is economical and mature. The film’s subject is highly original for an animation film, even today. It’s almost unbelievable that such a modern film was made in Czarist Russia.

Watch ‘The Cameraman’s Revenge’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘The Cameraman’s Revenge’ is available on the DVD ‘The Cameraman’s Revenge & other Fantastic Tales’

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