Milestone Films

Early Russian Cinema, Volume 3: Starewicz's Fantasies


“Starewicz is one of those cinemagicians whose name deserves to stand in film history alongside those of Méliès, Emil Cohl and Disney.” Charles Ford’s 1958 claim could scarcely be verified until recent years — as Jayne Pilling noted in her 1983 booklet — due to the unavailability of most of Starewicz’s films to view. During the 80s, his stock rose rapidly as archival co-operation made at least some of the key films visible.

These, however, were mainly from his French period and were vastly different from his very earliest Russian insect fables. What the opening up of Romanov cinema has revealed is the much wider range of his work in the years 1913-17, including a few surviving examples of his all-live-action films.

This collection includes examples of the three main strands of his early work. First, The Dragonfly and the Ant, based on a fable by the classic Russian writer Krylov, reveals the poetic elegance of Starewicz’s debut. The film was shown at court and rewarded by a gift and praise from the Tsar — which also reflected well on Starewicz’s patron, Khanzkonkov.

Adaptations of Gogol were another constant thread running through Starewicz’s work up to 1919, giving full rein to a love of the grotesque and the macabre which is also evident in the animal puppet films. Christmas Eve — which includes one of Mozzhukhin’s oddest character roles, as the devil — was apparently a great success, hailed by a contemporary reviewer as “sparkling with pure Gogolesque humor and ... accompanied by continuous laughter from the public.”

Russia’s entry into the Great War produced a wave of patriotic propaganda from artists in many media. Starewicz’s contribution varied from the knockabout satire of Mars’ Stepson and How the German General Signed a Pact with the Devil (both 1914) to the curious and touching Lily of Belgium. This uses one of his favorite techniques of mixing live-action with stop-frame animation to create an unashamed allegory of the German rape of Belgium.

THE DRAGONFLY AND THE ANT (Strekoza i muravei).

Director/Screenplay/Photography/Art Direction: Ladislaw Starewicz. Based on Krylov’s fable. Production Company: Khanzhonkov. Released February 22, 1913.

CHRISTMAS EVE (Noch’pered rozhdestvom).

Director/Screenplay/Photography/Art Direction: Ladislaw Starewicz. Based on the story by Nikolai Gogol. Production Company: Khanzhonkov. Released December 26, 1913. Cast: Ivan Mozzhukhin (Devil). Ol’ga Obolenskaia (Oksana). Lidiia Tridenskaia (Solokha). P. Lophukin (Vakula). A. Kheruvimov (Golova). Pavel Knorr (Chub).

THE LILY OF BELGIUM (Liliia Bel’gii; also known as The Suffering and Resurrection of Belgium and An Allegory of Today).

Director/Screenplay/Photography/Art Director: Ladislaw Starewicz. Text: Boris Martov. Production Company: Skobelev Committee. Released 1915? Cast: Irina Starewicz.

This DVD is also available for Institutional Purchase, which includes public performance rights and a 3-year streaming license. Please click on the “Format” button and select “DVD Institutional Rate.”

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Individuals and non-profit institutions purchasing DVDs, DVD-Rs, or Blu-rays — or streaming — at published home-use sale and rental prices are authorized to use the film only for private home screenings and legitimate classroom showings (a regularly scheduled class with an instructor present), per the United States Copyright Law. You can learn more about the distinction between classroom and public performance screenings here.


Through our distribution partner, Kino Lorber, Milestone provides a variety of licensing to suit all needs. Our standard institutional licensing packages are designed to provide colleges, universities and qualified non-profits with the best value for multiple uses, and our one-time community screening licenses allow any organization to exhibit high-quality films for a reasonable fee. Please note that all licensing carries restrictions on audience numbers and/or geographic range.


  • CLASSROOM RIGHTS allow unlimited use in face-to-face classroom situations for the life of the media, restricted to a single campus or location. Please note that this license doesn't include public screenings or digital transmission of any kind.
  • PUBLIC PERFORMANCE RIGHTS (PPR) allow educational and nonprofit groups to exhibit our films to groups of 100 or fewer individuals where admission is not charged. The term of the public performance license is for the life of the DVD. However, if you intend to charge admission, expect an audience over 100, or publicly advertise the screening, then we ask that you contact us regarding an exhibition fee. Films purchased without Public Performance Rights are restricted for individual viewing or face-to-face teaching in the classroom only.
  • DIGITAL SITE LICENSES (DSL) allow colleges, universities and nonprofits to locally host and stream to their community on a closed, password-protected system for the life of the digital file.
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For all educational licenses and screenings, please Estelle Grosso, Director of Educational and Non-Theatrical Sales & Distribution at Kino Lorber (Milestone’s distribution partner) at:

The purchase of DVDs, DVD-Rs, and Blu-rays at the institutional rate by anyone outside of a North American non-profit educational institution does not grant rights for public performance or streaming.

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Information for Exhibitors Screening DCPs and Film Prints

All bookings must be made by email correspondence with George Schmalz, Director of Theatrical Sales at Kino Lorber (Milestone’s distribution partner) at: to negotiate terms and insure a screening copy is available. An order is only finalized when Kino Lorber sends written confirmation.

DCPs are shipped insured for their cost via Federal Express or UPS and must be returned the same way or by an equivalent method. Shipping and handling charges for outgoing DCPs appear on your invoice. The immediate return or transshipment (as directed) of all DCPs is your responsibility.

DCPs should be returned to:

Milestone Film & Video
38 George Street
Harrington Park, New Jersey 07640-0128
United States 

35mm and 16mm prints are shipped insured for their cost via Federal Express or UPS and must be returned the same way or by an equivalent method. Please do not ship prints back via US Mail. Exhibitor pays to ship both ways. Shipping and handling charges for outgoing prints appear on your invoice. The immediate return of all prints is your responsibility.

Prints should be returned insured for $1,000 to:

Iron Mountain
Attn: Milestone Account
235 Main Street
Little Falls, NJ 07424

For public screenings, advertising materials can be requested by contacting

Milestone is the exclusive licensor for all the titles in this catalog, all of which are available from Milestone’s distribution partner Kino Lorber. in their complete versions.


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