How a Mosquito Operates (1912)

by popegrutch


As a followup to “Little Nemo,” Winsor McCay produced this animated short for Vitagraph Studios. Although the version I’ve found lacks color, it still has a number of things the preceding movie lacked, notably a sense of story and character. Where the point of “Little Nemo” seems just to be demonstrating that drawings can move around on film, this movie demonstrates animation’s potential as entertainment. A giant mosquito follows a man into his room and then proceeds to drink while he attempts to sleep, each sting causing the beast’s abdomen to swell with blood. Finally, it is so engorged that it cannot fly or even stand up without losing its balance. Taking a final drink, it suddenly explodes at the end. It’s somewhat disturbing, certainly compared to the innocent subject matter of most live-action films of the time, but obviously whimsical and humorous, and sticks to McCay’s theme of dreams and sleep. The whole thing is based on a comic strip he had written previously, and it is all done in fairly simple line-drawings, but with considerable attention to movement and perspective. This was the one McCay film recommended in the BFI’s “100 Silent Films” book.

Also Known as: “The Story of a Mosquito”

Director: Winsor McCay

Run time: 6 Min

You can watch it for free: here or here.