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The Tale of the Fox

The Tale of the Fox (1930)

The world’s first feature-length stop-motion animation

Adapted from Goethe’s fable – about a fox whose carnivorous cunning, deplored and feared by the rest of the animal kingdom, brings him into legal conflict with the lion king – this vintage animated film impresses, first of all, by the sheer virtuosity of its stop-motion puppet work. Some sequences feature literally dozens of immaculate creatures on superbly detailed sets. Its creator, Wladyslaw Starewicz (1882-1965), was a Polish-Lithuanian who moved to France after the Soviet revolution, whose work today is known mostly by reputation. The Tale of the Fox is marked by a sardonic wit. Much of the frantic violence puts Tom and Jerry to shame, and much of the imagery – hares drunk on communion wine, tightrope walking mice, a castle filled with Heath Robinson battle contraptions – springs from a genuinely surreal imagination.

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