THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED
Directed by: Lotte Reiniger (DE)
15 May at 3pm (Sat)
1926, 69 min. / Silent film, German intertitles with subtitles in Portuguese Age guidance: +6
The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed) is one of the world’s most innovative and influential animations. This enchanting film still stands as one of the great classics of animation - beautiful, mesmerizing and utterly seductive. A handsome prince rides a flying horse to faraway lands and embarks on magical adventures, which include befriending a witch, meeting Aladdin, battling demons and falling in love with a princess. The entire film is animated using the silhouette technique.
The Adventures of Prince Achmed is an animated fairytale film based on tales from The Arabian Nights. The widely believed to be the very first animated feature film features a silhouette animation technique Reiniger had invented which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera. The technique she used for the camera is similar to Wayang shadow puppets, though hers were animated frame by frame, not manipulated in live action. The original prints featured color tinting. The film became a fundamental work in the history of animation and pupperty. Lotte took the shadow theatre to the cinema and managed to breathe life into her silhuettes, meticulously cutting and filming each of their movements.
Lotte Reiniger cut figures out of black cardboard with scissors, and joined movable parts with thread in order to animate them. The Adventures of Prince Achmed took three years in the making. From 1923-26 about 250,000 frame-by-frame stills were made and 96,000 were used in the film. Her husband, Carl Koch, was responsible for the photography in all her films until his death in 1963.
Experimental German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981) was a pioneer in animation best known for her innovative work with backlit silhouettes, which was partially inspired by Chinese shadow puppets. Lotte Reiniger also wrote about shadow theatre, such as the book Shadow Theatres and Shadow Films. Reiniger studied under Max Reinhardt whose innovative expressionist light techniques also influenced her films. Soon after, she found herself in a clique of other avant-garde filmmakers including Paul Wegener, Walter Ruttman, Berthold Bartosch, Hans Richter and the man she married, Carl Koch. The majority of her silhouette films are based on fairy tales, fables, or ancient myths.