The Mascot's story centers around an ill child and her destitute mother, the latter of whom makes ends meet by manufacturing toys. One of these playthings—Duffy the stuffed dog—comes to life and, at the child's behest, goes on a journey to find an orange. The other dolls made by the mother come to life as well and, when they are in transit to a market the following day, they break out of their crate and escape to wander the streets of Paris. Duffy remains behind and eventually arrives at a shop where he is sold as a decoration for a car's back windshield. It is from this vantage that the dog spots his creator, makes a break for it, and tries to follow her home.
He becomes lost along the way, of course. While avoiding city traffic and the shuffling feet of passerby, Duffy finds himself in a street market where, lo and behold, a ripe orange drops from a nearby stand. Mission accomplished! Or not, for the night is dark and full of terrors. When the sun goes down, who else should come to town but...Satan and his demon posse? Sure. They're all roaming free and having a helluva party, and that is very bad news for poor lil' Duffy, unfortunately.
All the city's trash join in the devil's festivities, and it turns out that Duffy's ol' pals have already found their way to the most happenin' sector of the city. While he fends off the fiends who try to steal his orange, the other toys experience a night of drunken revelry and become...not as friendly as they once were. Dawn couldn't arrive soon enough, but when it finally does so do the police. They aid in Duffy's escape. He makes it home, gives the child the orange, and lives happily ever after.
As can be seen in the above gifs, Starewicz employed some extraordinary approaches to capture his subjects' movements. One of these was to maneuver the puppets during the film's exposure so as to create a blurred effect. This allowed each gesture to appear natural and, in some instances, almost like CGI. He also adopted rear-screen projection reminiscent of today's chroma key compositing, i.e., green screen. At the HCoSF concert, I remember one of the members telling the audience that while everyone could try to figure out the mechanics of the piece, he suggested just watching and "believing in the magic" Starewicz had summoned. My eyes were glued to the screen as the picture played, and the effects truly were enchanting.
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