Response Post: The Adventures of Prince Achmed

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The Adventures of Prince Achmed, 1926, Lotte Reiniger

Viewed: September 5th, 2013

“The Adventures of Prince Achmed” was created by Lotte Reiniger in 1926. It is one of the first known feature films at the time. The story is based off of 1001 Arabian Nights. More specifically, “The Story of Prince Achmed and the Fairy Paribanou”. The Adventures of Prince Achmed was created during the time of the German Expressionism.

Lotte Reiniger used a different technique for her film. Silhouette cut out pieces made up the characters and the environment the characters inhabited.  A multi plane was used to create dimensions allowing parts of the background to appear further away. These parts would be blurrier and not as dominant as what was taking place in the foreground. Each cut-out was intricately created, generally out of tin which allowed for individual pieces to be moved; such as the reflections in the water or a character’s fingers. Soap is another type of media used in the creation of the film and created a cloudy like effect. Reiniger would work with her team on such a project.

Around the same time that “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” was created, cartoons like Felix the Cat were created. “The Adventures of Prince Achmed”, in contrast to Felix, was made of silhouettes and few inner details. The character’s proportions are more realistic than the stretchiness of Felix. Felix’s world is flatter as well, being a cel animation. Prince Achmed’s tone is different as well- while Felix is meant to be funny and amusing, Prince Achmed is sombre and an epic tale that holds moments of sadness and triumph.

“The Adventures of Prince Achmed” was not the first or only cut out movie created around this time. One such cut out film is Rhythmus 21 but unlike “The Adventures of Prince Achmed”, it has no storyline. It is abstract visual music involving a flat plane with the visuals flowing with the music. The cut outs are all shapes as to where Prince Achmed is created from small, individual pieces of tin to create complicated characters and scene. “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” is unique in its complexity and use of the multi plane tool to create dimension.

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