This film is part of Free

Tale of a Tendril

A bug’s life laid bare in this charming cut-out animated tale by pioneering film naturalist F. Percy Smith

Animation & Artists Moving Image 1925 9 mins Silent


Are you ready for a bedtime story? F. Percy Smith was a naturalist and pioneer filmmaker who brought his interests together in microphotography marvels like The Acrobatic Fly (1910) featuring real insects. Though best known for his natural history work on the long running Secrets of Nature series, these “Bedtime Stories of Archie the Ant” shorts reveal his remarkable talents as a character animator.

Smith’s background as a nature lover is readily apparent in the film, with the whole plot based on spotting the visual similarity between a plant’s tendril and the proboscis of a butterfly. Though the film is produced through 2D cut-out animation, every effort is made to give the characters and the backgrounds a sense of depth – including using real plant-life in some scenes.