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Gabriel de Gravone,
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 Pari 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
Lotte Reiniger cut figures out of black cardboard with scissors, and joined movable parts with thread in order to animate them. 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. See more »
Who are you, girls?
Pari Banu Mädchen:
We serve Pari Banu, ruler of the islands of the spirits of Wak-Wak. Stay with us, attractive stranger!
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In 2001, Primrose Film Productions Ltd. copyrighted a version restored by Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt am Main (1998-1999) from various archive materials. Released by Milestone Films and shown on Turner Classics Movies in 2003, the film has a new music version of the original score produced by Klaus-Peter Beyer performed by Deutches Filmorchester Babelsberg, and conducted by Helmut Imig. Milestone's release runs 65 minutes plus about 1 minute of introductory comments and restoration credits. A fascinating account of the restoration is available online at http://www.fiafnet.org/pdf/uk/fiaf61.pdf See more »
A wonderful animated journey into a fantastical world of heroes, villains, magic and monsters
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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