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To Demonstrate How Spiders Fly

Charming animated illustration of one of nature's wonders from Britain's most inventive pioneer of wildlife filmmaking.

Animation & Artists Moving Image 1909 1 mins Silent


This typically delightful film from Britain's great pioneering wildlife filmmaker F. Percy Smith uses model animation to capture one of nature's engineering marvels: the spider's web-building. Presumably judging that live-action photography wasn't up to the job, Smith built his own charming eight-legged model, which he animates to illustrate how the spider "throws a thread of silk to the wind". Arachnophobes beware: in the final few seconds the cute model is replaced by the real deal, seen shooting its web like an arrow.

This was Smith's first attempt at animation, but it would become an increasing element of his films, sometimes to more deliberately comic effect, as in his series charting the adventures of Archie the Ant.