Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (1926) Poster

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10/10
The oldest surviving animated feature film
Galina29 December 2006
Visiting earlier today the exhibition," The Société Anonyme: Modernism for America" at Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, I was very lucky to watch as a part of the exhibit Charlotte (Lotte) Reiniger's "Die Geschichte des Prinzen Achmed" (The Adventures of Prince Achmed"), completed in 1926, which makes it THE oldest surviving animated feature film. Lotte Reiniger (June 2, 1899 - June 19, 1981) was a German (and later a British) silhouette animator and film director. Through elaborating articulated paper silhouettes set to an original score by Wolfgang Zeller, Reiniger combines in "Prince Achmed..." several fairy tales from the Thousand and One Nights aka Arabian Nights. Reiniger was ahead of Walt Disney by a decade using her innovative camera which separates foreground from background to produce 3-D illusion. She also experimented with wax and sand to create magical special effects. The result is simply stunning considering that the film is 80 years old. It did not age at all, it is paced extremely well, and its backgrounds literally hypnotize the viewers of any age. By the power of her creativity and imagination, Reiniger takes the viewers to the dream world of mesmerizing and magic characters and their incredible adventures.
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8/10
Dazzling animated film in silhouette!
preppy-33 July 2003
From the "Arabian Nights" this is a German silent animated film (with music score and color tints). It tells the story of Prince Achmed and hid adventures when he gets on a flying horse. He falls in love with Princess Peri Banu, fights the evil Sorcerer and meets up with the Fire Mountain Witch (!!) and Aladdin (whose story is also told).

This was done in silhouette animation--they use cutouts instead of drawings and film them frame by frame moving each piece a little at a time--this took three years to complete!

It's truly incredible--the cutouts are incredibly detailed and the animation itself is flawless--the characters move very smoothly. The story moves briskly and the color tints and great music score just complement the animation perfectly. Sadly this is little known. Maybe with the restored version playing it will get the recognition it richly deserves.

A great film for the whole family--if the kids don't mind reading subtitles.
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10/10
Incredible Animated Fantasy
Ron Oliver27 July 2004
THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED pit him against the evil African Sorcerer in an attempt to rescue beautiful Princess Peri Banu from terrible peril.

German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981) was fascinated with cutouts and puppetry from childhood. After seeing a silent film by the great Georges Méliès as a teenager, she knew that movies would be her destiny. Reiniger loved make believe and would eventually make films on a whole series of fabulous characters, from Dr. Dolittle (1928) and Puss in Boots (1936) to Thumbelina (1954) and Hansel & Gretel (1955).

Reiniger's area of expertise was in silhouette animation. Using a pair of scissors, she produced amazingly elaborate images from black paper and then had them back-lit and photographed one frame at a time, moving the cutouts slightly each time, thereby producing the illusion of movement. Her masterwork, after three years of labor, was THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED, produced eleven years before Disney's SNOW WHITE, thus becoming the world's first animated feature film.

The movie tells an exciting story from the world of the Arabian Nights, full of magic, menace & monsters, and incorporates the tale of Aladdin and his love for Achmed's sister Dinarzade, thus giving the movie two valiant heroes instead of only one. The romantic exploits are slightly leavened with a touch of delightful decadence and good humor, exemplified by Achmed's few moments in the seraglio on the magical Isle of Waq Waq.

It is fascinating how these pieces of black paper can evoke an emotional response from the viewer. It is a testimony to the wonderful artistry of their creator, Lotte Reiniger, a woman who richly deserves to be more celebrated by those interested in cinema history.
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An Old-Fashioned Art
Once Upon A Stage5 February 2001
In our age of CG and digital enhancements, it's difficult (for some) to remember a time when things were done by hand and hand alone. Thus, is the case of animation. This painstaking art has been replaced with programs that not only speed up the process of single-frame rendering, they can even mimic pen strokes and outlines.

So it's a rare treat to come across a unique work that illustrates the artistry of early animation in Film. A shining example is Reinger's "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" . There's really no preparation for this feature, one just needs to succumb to the beautiful imagery that begins to reveal itself, one silhouette at a time. It completely takes us off the conventional track and into the realm best inhabited by forgotten dreams. One forgets that one is watching a series of contours and like the traditional Nang Yai shadow puppet play, the journey has you swept away in a short time!

Some may not be as impressed with this `old-fashioned' approach to story telling. It doesn't compare to the spectacles of the `instant classic' available these days. It's a bit `clanky' and possibly too analog for others. On the other hand, if you're looking for a whimsical and imaginative tale of magic, travels to mystical lands, heroism and love (with a charming score), you won't be in the least bit disappointed with this one.
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9/10
A beautiful film to look at and experience so many years later
MovieAddict201613 November 2006
Although "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is most commonly considered to be the first full-length, color-animated film of its kind, in 1926 this adaptation of the "Arabian Nights" stories was created using silhouette animation by Lotte Reiniger, and it's just as wonderful to look at.

She spent three years cutting out the figures to be used in the film, and the result is a visual marvel - I notice my television guide only gave it two and a half stars (from four), less than they gave "Batman Forever," but I fail to see what is unimpressive about this.

The story sees Prince Ahmed going on magical adventures with his flying horse, saving a beautiful princess and so on and so forth. It's the typical fantasy story told extremely well with visual craftsmanship that really makes this worth seeing alone. It's a silent film, only about an hour long, so it's an acquired taste. Film buffs will probably get more out of this than the average viewer, but I really enjoyed it.
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9/10
delightful, charming, amazing early animated film
FieCrier30 June 2005
A really superb animated film, quite amazing for its time, I think. Delightful!

An African sorcerer tries to sell a flying horse he has created or conjured up to a Caliph. He hopes perhaps to have the Caliph's daughter. That being unlikely, he lets the Prince try the horse out, without explaining how it works. Thus, the Prince goes up to soaring heights, and by the time he figures it out, he's found the magical island of Wak-Wak where he half-kidnaps, half-saves a Princess there. They go to China, he meets Aladdin, there's lots of charming adventures, some of them perhaps scary for kids (giant snakes, demons, the Sorcerer, etc.).

It's done with silhouettes, black cut-outs against white (or tinted) backgrounds, though the backgrounds are also filled with silhouettes too. Some of them are very intricate, and there is also a fair amount of attention to detail, like creating rippled reflections in water.

Highly recommended!
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An Unusual Idea That Works Quite Well
Snow Leopard13 July 2004
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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10/10
Great animated film! And the first full-length animated film, too!
catmydogs13 November 2006
I caught this film on TCM a few nights back. Wasn't sure what to expect, but I was totally floored. It's a silhouette animated film, as opposed to cel animation like Snow White, but it shows incredible craftsmanship and detail. The music is awesome, too! Very stirring, very evocative of a classical score rather than a typical movie score.

The story is based on parts of The Arabian Nights, I presume (act 4 is devoted to Aladdin and the Magic Lamp). This film is far superior to the Disney Aladdin a few years back, no contest. The story is about a Prince who falls in love with a magical princess and has to go through a series of trials to win her. In his way are an evil sorcerer, a magical gate, and hordes of dark creatures. The film isn't too long (just over one hour), but it is thrilling from start to finish. I don't know if it's available on DVD, but it's absolutely worth catching (and definitely recording!) on TV. TCM is the best bet to find it.
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10/10
The Adventures of Prince Achmed
iF....10 November 1999
Disney's Snow White & the Seven Dwarves is commonly called the first animated feature but 11 years ago before its release, at age of 23, Berlin born avant-gardist Charlotte Reinger designed the exquisite "silhouette film" The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Loosely based on the 1001 Nights (The Arabian Nights) The Adventures of Prince Achmed deploys elaborate cut-outs, early multiplane camerawork, and experiments with wax and sand to produce and exquisite visual feast. The fantasy world of sorcerers ad magic lamps, flying horses and an island lake where a princess and her attendants fly down to bathe using lace like wings comes to life in a breathtaking combination of images, color and special effects that will dazzle and enchant adults and children alike. The film was finished and had its premiere in Berlin in 1926.
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Beautifully Animated...Wonderful Story
soriano32910 December 2006
Lotte Reiniger's "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" is one of the most amazing achievements in the history of cinema. The first animated movie ever, Achmed was based on the ancient stories "Arabian Nights." It took her three whole years to make, shooting over 250,000 cardboard cutouts with the assistance of her husband Carl Koch.

The German silent film begins with the creation of a flying horse. The African Magician tricks Prince Achmed into flying the horse, hoping to rid the kingdom of Achmed's presence. But Achmed is able to control the horse, and flies off to an island, where he finds the beautiful princess Peri Banu. In order to win her heart he must defeat the Magician, the Chinese Emperor, and an army of demons, with the help of Aladdin and a mysterious witch.

The irony of this movie is that the German subtitles are subtitled in English. But don't let that throw you, this silent masterpiece is magnificent film-making at its best, and certainly a landmark in cinema.
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10/10
A masterpiece
Warning: Spoilers
"The adventures of Princes Achmed" was one of the first animated films of the history of cinema and it is also one of the best animated films ever made. This movie uses shadow puppets to recreate some stories from the book One Thousand and One Nights, and the result not only works very well, but also seems astounding for the time it was made. The animation is stylish and the story is fun, well made, and filled with magical characters and situations. This is a great film, which deserves more recognition from anyone. No wonder why the great French animator Michel Ocelot was influences by this film, it is one of the greatest animated films ever made. I recommend it to anyone.

10/10
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7/10
A wonderful animated journey into a fantastical world of heroes, villains, magic and monsters
ackstasis14 June 2007
Contrary to popular belief, 'The Adventures of Prince Achmed' was not precisely the first feature-length animated film. It was pre-dated by two Argentinian films directed by Quirino Cristiani, 'El Apóstol / The Apostle (1917)' and 'Sin dejar rastros / Without a Trace (1918),' both now considered lost. Thus, this film does hold the prestigious title of being the oldest surviving feature-length animated film, and what a delight it is! Exclusively featuring silhouette animation, in which manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead are lit from the back, the film runs for approximately 65 minutes, and is based on elements taken from the collection '1001 Arabian Nights.'

When a devious African magician tricks adventurous young Prince Achmed into riding a magical flying horse, he is whisked away from his home kingdom and taken to the mysterious island of Wak-Wak, where he falls in love with the beautiful Peri Banu. However, the evil magician, who desires Achmed's sister Dinarsade, kidnaps Peri Banu and sells her to the Chinese Emperor. With the help of Aladdin, and the Witch of the Fiery Mountain, Prince Achmed must defeat his sinister foe and recover his true love.

The silhouette animation in the film is really quite outstanding, and a surprising level of detail is achieved. A scene I particularly enjoyed was the climactic battle between the Witch of the Fiery Mountain and the Africian magician, in which both parties magically transformed themselves into various deadly creatures in order to get the upper hand. The use of different background tints was also co-ordinated carefully in a way that would define the atmosphere of each scene. Notably, this was achieved quite well as the Prince, for the first time, began to rise high into the sky on his newly-acquired flying horse. From a very bright, optimistic yellow, the background changed to a dark, ominous blue, as the onset of strong winds threatened to pluck Achmed from his mount and toss him to the ground far below. Though these tints were present in the original negatives, the loss of these negatives meant that the surviving nitrate prints had to be carefully restored.

In order to rescue the lovely Peri Banu, Prince Achmed must battle a wide array of devilish beasts and monsters, ranging from huge snakes to hundreds of bat-like demons. A distinct advantage of this type of film-making over live-action films is that complex and expensive visual effects are not required. In the scope of this animation, absolutely anything in possible. Nonetheless, one can only imagine how much work must have gone into animating each singular frame of the film. With its endearing style of animation, and a classic tale of love and adventure, Lotte Reiniger's 'The Adventures of Prince Achmed' is a must-see for all film and animation enthusiasts.
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9/10
Unique is an understatement
mOVIemAN5617 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Adventures of Prince Achmed is one of the most incredible works of art I have ever seen. The story isn't anything wonderful but this film is what started the age of animation. Without this piece, Disney would not be half of what it is. The story is a wonderful retelling of an Arabian Night tale but the story behind the film is even more incredible.

What Lotte Reiniger has done is created what many would consider impossible. Taking pieces of construction paper and using stop animation camera techniques to create a feature length film. It took her nearly three years to complete the strenuous task of taking 250,000 photos but the hard work pays off with an incredible picture brought forth. The film is a silent film but it doesn't matter as beautiful music is played with every act. As you watch this film, you almost forget you are watching animation and you think you are watching actual people behind a screen.

Now, if you're more of a fan of story telling than imagery then this may not be for you. The imagery far overtakes the story Shahrzad gives to Reiniger. I was simply blown off my feet when I saw this. There is some irony in the film however. The film was produced in 1926 Germany. Look at the decorations in the background on the Act cards, you be surprised what religious symbol you see.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed. 4.5/5
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10/10
A unique and stunning milestone in the wonderful world of animation
TheLittleSongbird19 July 2011
I have adored animation for goodness knows how long. The Adventures of Prince Achmed isn't just a milestone, it is also a unique and stunning achievement that has stood the test of time. The silhouette animation is superb and holds up very well, and the music gives such a sweeping and magical feel to the proceedings. All the characters are engaging, not just the lead characters but also the timeless assortment of monsters and the like, and the story is so engaging, charming and elegant any worries of predictability completely fade. Overall, an animated milestone and still timeless and effective after all these years. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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7/10
The Adventures of Prince Achmed is a marvel of early full-length animation
tavm20 July 2007
While I was at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library looking at various VHS tapes I could borrow, my eyes saw something that I've never heard of before called The Adventures of Prince Achmed. I looked at the back case and found out it was possibly the earliest full-length animated feature in existence and was directed by Lotte Reiniger in cutout silhouette. I must say, most of the images were pretty impressive with various color tints and use of detail in backgrounds and movements, all involving black construction paper. Certainly one of the most impressive sequences involved the battle of the evil sorcerer and Witch of the Fiery Mountains as they changed into various vicious animals in the fight to the death. While there's plenty of action here, it's not very fast paced which I guess is par for such a painstaking film that took three years to make involving such attention to dreaming of the big picture but if you allow your imagination to take hold, this could be one of the most enchanting experiences of your life! Definitely worth checking out for animation enthusiasts.
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9/10
Queer animation style
matt-132716 November 2006
Saw it on TCM a few nights ago, just like another poster here. Really could not switch away from it. this movie put me in a trance. The music is mesmerizing, and plays a big part in the film since there is no spoken dialog. I started watching in the middle and did not follow the story that well, but I was fascinated by the visuals - it reminded me of the Apple Ipod campaign with black silhouettes on brightly colored backgrounds - quite a precedent was set here. But the queer animation style quickly terminated all aspects that reminded me of Apple computer. The film was so weird and sublime that I just had to google "Pari Banu" and "waq waq" and figure out the story behind it.
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8/10
Amazing Early Animation
gavin694220 June 2013
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.

While this is not quite German expressionism, it has that same sensibility of contrast between darkness and light. The use of dark silhouettes to be the characters (no features beyond their outlines) gives a very distinct look that is rarely seen anywhere else.

This is apparently the earliest known animated feature film still in existence. What I find curious is that it was not drawn or painted, but rather features cut out pieces of cardboard. In this way, it anticipated and possibly inspired something completely different decades later -- "South Park", which uses construction paper (or at least did originally).
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7/10
Early Pioneer of Animation That Smartly Wears its Limitations as a Fashion Choice
Sean Lamberger2 July 2012
Although a couple of long-lost Argentinean films may or may not predate it, this stands in the history books as the oldest surviving feature-length animated picture in history, a fact which is genuinely astounding given how well it's aged. Although the entire film is populated by silhouettes, the creative intellects responsible quickly shift that handicap into a calling card. Extravagantly ornate character and set designs give us more than enough to establish the cast and tell its ambitious fairy tale, while the thick black mattes leave just as much of the screen to be filled in by the viewer's imagination. Judged by modern standards the pace is very slow, but the plot - lifted piecemeal from a dozen different myths and fables - moves in unexpectedly bold directions. Best viewed as a spectacular time capsule, it's an enlightening glimpse at the roots of a proud industry that's yet to finish its first century.
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10/10
Cinema magic...
Falconeer20 April 2010
The ancient tales of the 1,001 Arabian nights come to life in what as known as the first animated film, this is an historical film, a museum piece in every sense of the word. The magical, enchanting adventures of Prince Achmed are brought to life by little more than paper cutouts, filmed in silhouette, on film treated with blazing colors! the viewer is swept away into magical Middle and Far Eastern lands, and is taken on an adventure with Prince Achmed and his great friend Aladdin. The Prince, looking beautiful and majestic in his Armour and scimitar sword, battles the evil African magician who has imprisoned his sister, the beautiful Dinar Sade. Swept away by a magic flying horse created by the magician, our Prince finds himself in a mysterious land, where he encounters the delicate and enchanting Paru Banu, the princess of a land inhabited by evil demons. The two fall in love, but his Princess is taken away by the demons of her own land. This is where he meets the boy Aladdin, who reveals to him a tale of an evil African magician, who stole away his beloved, who turns out to be Prince Achmed's own sister, Dinar Sade! Side by side, the two fight to save their Princesses from danger and death! This film is pure magic and should be seen by anyone with an interest in animation or classic cinema. The workmanship and detail of these paper cutouts must be seen to be appreciated; figures wearing lace and feathers so intricate you would not believe that this was simply paper. This project was many years in the making and the original film has been lost, due to age, but a wonderful copy exists today on DVD, to dazzle a new generation of film lovers. With the exception of Pier Paolo Pasolini's "Arabian Nights," the tales from these poetic books has never been presented in a more glorious way than in this 1926 German production, "The Adventures of Prince Achmed." Absolute highest rating.
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9/10
Beauty in Animation
Eumenides_031 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Lotte Reiniger's 1926 The Adventures of Prince Achmed is cinema's oldest known animated feature. If that's not enough to give it a place in the history of cinema, it's also a technically-brilliant movie. Reiniger developed a silhouette technique of using paper cut-outs lit against glass. The effect is beautiful, especially in the way the black silhouettes contrast against the vivid background colours. I've only ever seen a movie with a similar effect: Karel Zeman's The Fabulous Baron Munchausen.

This is also a lovely, fast-paced story that draws a lot from The Arabian Nights and so is full of fantasy: princes, princesses, genies, spirits, flying cities, flying horses, witches, sorcerers, etc. The most notable influence is, of course, the figure of Aladdin and his magic lamp. The brave Prince Achmed fights an evil sorcerer to save the life of Princess Peri Banu, from the magical Wak-Wak Island. Along the way he meets allies and faces all kinds of challenges. In the end, of course, bravery and love prevail.

The story sounds very predictable to modern audiences, but its charm and elegance is timeless. In the end, the story is just a vehicle for Reiniger to explore the possibilities of this new animated technique she created, and I'd say she did a wonderful job. This is a movie for the ages, one of those pearls that cinema needs to rediscover quickly.
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10/10
a marvelous little feature.
igloocookie23 February 2008
As humble as some of it may appear, Lotte Reiniger's "Adventures of Prince Achmed" is a vibrant visual treat despite what many may label as simple shadow puppets. The cut-outs are brilliantly intricate and very well manipulated. I find it amazing that characters with no eyes or interior ornateness can contain so much character. Reinger certainly knows how to manipulate her little performers for maximum effectiveness. The story is fast and fun. Let's face it "Prince Achmed's" got it all: princes, princesses, travel, castles, evil wizards, flying horses, witches, genies, magic, monsters, demons, shape-shifting showdowns (that were totally reused in Disney's "The Sword in the Stone), and so much more. I absolutely loved this movie. This definitely a must-see for anyone into film history, animation, or just marvelous adventure and fantasy. I highly recommend this little flick.it is sure not to disappoint.
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2008 Seattle Children's Film Festival, David Jeffers for SIFFblog.com
rdjeffers25 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Friday, January 25, 8:00 p.m., Northwest Film Forum

Celestial Patience and Running with Scissors: Weimar animator Lotte Reiniger.

Her friend Jean Renoir claimed that premiere German animator Lotte Reiniger was "… born with magic hands." From childhood, Reiniger possessed an unusual talent for fashioning detailed shapes with paper and scissors. As a young woman, she worked with Paul Wegener, Fritz Lang and legendary stage director Max Reinhardt. Animation was, as Reiniger described, "… still walking in its infant shoes." With a small group of dedicated artists and technicians, Reinger began producing short stop action films in 1919, followed by three years devoted to her masterpiece, considered the oldest surviving animated feature, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926).

Reiniger's delicate and magical telling of The Arabian Nights was considered by the German theater establishment as wholly unworthy of exhibition. After nine months in Paris and a successful world tour, Berlin relented. Reiniger endured, and went on to delight audiences with her beautiful and unique artform for half a century.
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10/10
Summary for Prince Achmed
MstrPBK10 September 2006
Since the 1920's, when this production was filmed, the world of animation has changed radically. Today a range of animation styles exists that range from cell animation, to clay animation, to stop motion, to computer animation of real and imaginary objects. Computer animation even encompasses special effects since the mid-1980's.

Lotte Reiniger, the artist, defied even conventional animation of her time. While other animators were using paper, ink, light, and camera; she only used paper, light, and camera! What she produced were remarkably detailed animations. Since the real art-form of paper animation has gone by the wayside this work should be included in every animation collection.

It is unfortunate that more work (25 some titles) from Lotte Reiniger were not preserved for distribution.
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magic
Armand14 August 2014
a magic film. and the masterpiece of Lotte Reiniger. a kind of embroidery who resurrect not only the childhood memories but a form of delicate humanity. a film like a spell. music, animation, the small pieces of black paper and the romanticism in precise manner to introduce you in the story spirit. an Arabian fairy tale. fascinating for the hard and high work. for the beauty. and for the real gift who represents its root. the story of Prince Achmed and Aladdin has the each ingredient of cinema from period - passion for exoticism, the difficulties of love story, the brave heroes, the splendid maids. but something is unique in its case. it is not easy to define it. but it is the motif for who, after almost a century, the film is not seems be old. maybe, the universal message. or the admirable/amazing art. in fact, maybe, only the magic of an extraordinary work.
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9/10
Fun for all ages
ksf-22 July 2015
and ahead of its time. A Cherrr-man creation, seemingly made of paper cutout characters against a lit backdrop, with slight, stop-motion movements. Excellent subtitles into English. From the info on IMDb, it seems there are at least two versions, due to the difference in film speed, a 66 minute version, and an 81 minute version. The version shown on Turner Classic shows movement, then pauses at the end of each scene. It looks like this is a restored version. The prince does indeed go on several short adventures, such as flying away on a flying horse, and escaping a volcano. Some of the detail in the scenes are just incredible. I was pleasantly surprised; much better than expected. The simple characters show so much emotion, and there is so much going on in the background, its impossible to catch all the details. And this was all in 1925. FUN stuff.
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