Director / Cinematography / Art Direction Wladyslaw Starewicz; Music Eduard Flament; Cast Toy Dog (himself)
by Stephen Russell-Gebbett
We often apply a double standard when we judge the worth of animated work. If the animation is technically impressive we forgive it its narrative weaknesses. If the story is diverting we ignore the shortcomings of an uninspiring aesthetic. We don’t often make the same allowances for live-action feature films, allowances that are, in some respects, patronising.
It is clear from the beginning of The Mascot, in which live-action sets and backdrops are blended seamlessly with animation, that Wladyslaw Starewicz is a very talented film-maker in any realm. His background was in documentaries and his panoramic understanding of film shines in every frame – in the whiplash fast chases through city traffic to the tender moments of the singular bond between child and toy.
The Mascot begins with a mother (played by the director’s wife) knitting a toy dog for her daughter (Starewicz’s daughter!) who lies ill (and blind) in a nearby bed. Animation is full of breathtaking instances of creation, where the inanimate become animate, gaining a soul and life and any moment we will be treated to something quite breathtaking…. The mother, sad, sheds a tear that falls into the stuffing of the un-stitched dog .That very tear becomes its beating heart. Even in a world where special effects might seem to make the fantastical trite, this miracle of love is heart-stopping.