Lotte Reiniger, born in 1899, displayed a talent for creating freehand paper cut outs. At first she used these in a homemade shadow theatres. Before deciding to create cut out animations for a career, Lotte had desired to be an actress. She studied under Max Reinhardt but her skill with paper silhouettes caught the attention of Paul Wegener who commissioned Lotte to create silhouettes for the intertitles of his films Rübezahls Hochzeitand Der Rattenfänger von Hameln. Lotte was introduced to a group of young men in the year 1919 who were setting up the Insitute for Cultural Research, headed by Hans Curlis. One member of said group was Carl Koch. They married in 1921 and Koch built her a studio while becoming Lotte’s camera operator and producer.
Since Lotte enjoyed fairy tales she created Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty in 1922. She often used classical music such as Mozart to go along with her films, creating a visual interpretation of the songs she used with her delicate and graceful silhouetted figures. After the two shorts, Lotte worked on the longest surviving feature film with Koch, Walther Ruttmann and Berthold Bartosch. Finances for the film were provided by Louis Hagen who in fact build Lotte another studio above his garage. After the Adventures of Prince Achmed, Lotte created no more feature films. She focused on shorts that were one or two reels in length. Lotte, when finances ran out, would create things for books or commercials. She even did a commercial for Nivea in 1922.
Lotte’s skills only managed to improve as she created more shorts; the improvement can be noted in Harlequin from 1931 and The Little Chimney Sweep from 1934. She went on to create The King’s Breakfast in 1936 after leaving Germany due to the Nazi invasion and then in 1944, The Golden Goose was made. Finally, after the war, Lotte and Koch emmigrated to Britain where they set up Primrose Productions withe Louis Hagen Jr. There she adapted films based on Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm Hauff, Hans Christian Andersen and One Thousand and One Nights.
Lotte’s style of work was distinct and she managed to take paper cut out silhouettes and make the medium her own. The silhouettes were made of heavier paper with wire joints. Sometimes metal was used to weight the paper down because of the metal joints. She used a device called the multi plane, which she helped create, that allowed for depth to be used in her animations. Sliced wax was even used in the Adventures of Prince Achmed. Lotte managed to use the techniques to create puppets that danced across the screen.
Lotte Reiniger’s cut outs are fantastically intricate in their design. In creating my character I decided on a simplistic design in attempt to minimize errors; I still managed to make mistakes. I did manage to make wire joints for my character like Lotte had for hers, but Lotte’s characters are certainly more graceful. My character’s motions are not as smooth as Lotte’s because they go to fast. I did not have enough frames for each movement. I should have moved my character’s limbs at smaller incriminates. Though the animation is not fantastic, I had focused on making sure the wire joints worked with the character’s movements like Lotte managed. The problem I faced was that the joints of my character were not easy to remove, so having my character turn around did not go as smoothly as Lotte had her characters move.
My Kitten Stretches:
My kitten stretches one paw high,
With the other she’ll touch the sky.
Then says “Meow” and turns around,
Then folds her paws and sits right down!
Osmond, Andrew. “Paper, Scissors.” Sight & Sound 19.2 (2009): 87. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Nov. 2013.
Phillip, Kemp. “BFI Screenonline: Reiniger, Lotte (1899-1981) Biography.” BFI Screenonline: Reiniger, Lotte (1899-1981) Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2013.
The Adventures of Prince Achmed