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George W. Hill
Based on stories from "The Arabian Nights." A wicked sorcerer tricks Prince Achmed into riding a magical flying horse. The heroic prince is able to subdue the magical horse, which he uses to fly off to many adventures. While travelling, he falls in love with the beautiful Princess Peri Banu, and must defeat an army of demons to win her heart. The entire film is animated using the silhouette technique, which employs movable cardboard and metal cutouts posed in front of illuminated sheets of glass. Written by
The idea for "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" is unusual and interesting, and Lotte Reiniger uses it to create an enjoyable and distinctive feature. To make such a different approach work so well must have taken large amounts of both skill and patience, as well as the creativity to adapt the stories to the format.
The cutout-style animation that the feature uses ruled out a lot of options for the film-makers, and it put a premium on the careful design of the figures and on well-planned story-telling. At first, the plainness of the silhouette figures is somewhat apparent, but it's not long at all before the story is involving enough, and the animation creative enough, to give the characters and events plenty of life and energy.
The plot itself is taken from some of the old "Arabian Nights" tales, much of it from some of the less-familiar episodes. It is a good adaptation of the material, and the careful details in the outlines of the silhouette figures soon create an atmosphere that works even without colors or special visual tricks.
The style allows your own imagination to flesh out the characters, rather than providing an artist's depiction for every detail in the story. In this respect it makes an interesting contrast with the more usual kind of fantasy film that does try to make everything expressly visual. As soon as you get used to the style and concentrate on the story, it becomes quite interesting and at times even engrossing. Overall, it's an imaginative feature that works quite well.
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