silhouette special

Lotte Reiniger b. 2 June 1899 – d. 19 June 1981

Reiniger was a German director and animator who specialized in silhouette animation. 

At a very early age Reiniger was fascinated with movies and with Japanese silhouette art.  Enrolling in an acting school taught by actor/director Paul Wegener she quickly caught his eye with her silhouetted figures and he commissioned her to make the opening titles of his 1918 film The Pied Piper of Hamelin. She enrolled in the Institute for Cultural Research shortly after and began making short films by making elaborate cardboard figures and scenes and then photographing them so that when played together they formed a moving image. 

In 1926 she directed the earliest surviving feature length animated film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed.

By 1933 Reiniger and her husband Carl Koch left Germany due to the rise of the Nazi party and began living in exile around Europe. Unable to find a country willing to grant them permanent status they were temporarily sheltered by Jean Renoir in France and Luchino Visconti in Italy. They finally returned to Berlin after the end of WWII. 

Reiniger is credited as director on at least 55 films. She continued making shorts and features until 1980. 

Among her other accomplishments is creating the logo for the National Deaf Children’s Society in the UK and contributing illustrations to Roger Lancelyn Green’s children’s book King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table.

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