“The Adventures of Prince Achmed is the oldest surviving animated feature film. It features a silhouette animation technique Reiniger had invented, which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera.
The story is based on elements taken from the One Thousand and One Nights. Prince Achmed is swept away by a flying horse, the doing of a magician who wants to marry Achmed’s sister. Achmed finds and falls in love with Peri Banu, and must rescue her and return home. Along the way, he meets Aladdin, and with the help of a witch, they defeat the evil magician.
Charlotte “Lotte” Reiniger was the foremost pioneer of silhouette animation, and made over 40 films over her career, all using her invention. She fled Nazi Germany with her husband, Carl Koch (he worked on her films as well), and somehow managed to make 12 films between 1933-1944. She died in 1981, at the age of 82.
Although the film failed to find a distributor for almost a year, once premiered in Paris (thanks to the support of Jean Renoir), it became a critical and popular success.”
The full film is available on Vimeo, but with a different soundtrack. As it’s a silent film, there’s written dialogue, and it’s in German.
Pioneering artist Lotte Reiniger, born on this day in 1899, is celebrated in the MoMA children’s book Young Charlotte, Filmmaker. Her iconic animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed inspires the character of Charlotte to make her own movie.