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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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 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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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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