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Rosalyn Lim 林惠美

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) Poster

German title: Die Geschichte des Prinzen Achmed
French title: Les Aventures du Prince Ahmed

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
At a glance

One of the first animated features ever created and the oldest surviving animated feature film today, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) is a silhouette and cutout animation (earliest form of stop motion) by Lotte Reiniger. She invented the technique herself which involves manipulation of cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under the camera.

Initially, this animated feature has failed to find a distributor for almost a year but after it is premiered in Paris with the support of Jean Renoir, it became a worldwide critical and popular success. The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) is loosely based on "The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou" from the "Blue Fairy Book" by Andrew Lang and the story of "Aladdin" from One Thousand and One Nights.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) Trailer

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) Synopsis

Taken from The Arabian Nights, the film tells the story of a wicked sorcerer who tricks Prince Achmed into mounting a magical flying horse and sends the rider off on a flight to his death. But the prince foils the magician’s plan, and soars headlong into a series of wondrous adventures — joining forces with Aladdin and the Witch of the Fiery Mountains, doing battle with the sorcerer's army of monsters and demons, and falling in love with the beautiful Princess Peri Banu.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

Prince Achmed, the title character.
Prince Achmed, the title character.

Watching The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) is exactly like watching cutouts coming to life. It resembles a magical play and it certainly is not your ordinary animated feature. Aside from being the one of the first made and the oldest surviving in the world, it is also one of the very few movies that are exceedingly detailed and exquisite from start to end.

Pari Banu with her wings on.
Pari Banu with her wings on.

Highly inventive and creative in storytelling, each frame are painstakingly crafted and put together by hand resulting beautiful scenes in the animated feature. Even if the casts are merely silhouettes of the cutouts, we are able to feel the character's emotions as the magnificent music sets the mood and the body movements of the cutouts are straightforward, making the animation vivid.

African Magician and Prince Achmed.
African Magician and Prince Achmed.

What I loved most about this animated feature is that it is truly artistic. Lotte Reiniger is a German but she is able to produce beautiful Arabian and Chinese cutout sets. If she is not a genius, I don't know what she would be! Some stuffs may not be historically accurate or make sense but well it's 1926 so it's actually pretty decent especially they do not have as much resources as we have today to refer or learn from! Hence, it is really amazing to able to watch what a woman's creativity and cutouts can do!

Depiction of China.
Depiction of China.

So, can I call Lotte Reiniger the Mother of Animation? Actually why not? Lotte Reiniger rightfully is the Mother of Animation!!

She invented her own technique and pioneered the earliest form of stop motion animation into a feature film. She is one of the first female film directors and certainly is the first female animated feature film director! Also, even though over 88 years has passed, her The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) is still so enchanting and mesmerising; it will not fail to capture the hearts of all animation fans!! (Though I must mention and clarify that it would be given that the animation fan do not anti-fairy tales and don't mind the cultural depictions or societal elements)

Caliph and the two young couples.
Caliph and the two young couples.

Seriously, I never thought the animation or the output would be that great, how could she possibly achieve this kind of animation that is so exquisitely animated, in 1926?! I watched this in disbelief and certainly am lost for words for a while because it is the third oldest animated feature and it is also so much more interesting, pleasant, beautiful, insert all the praise words here, in comparison to some of the decades much newer films!

Aladdin and Dinarsade.
Aladdin and Dinarsade.

Therefore, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) is truly a wonder of animation and if you are blessed to watch this, I am sure you will appreciate the art of animation more. I do not know how else I could express my respect and admiration other than highly recommending this to you. It is truly one indisputable great movie. (I'll be mad if you say it's not great!)

Who will like this?

Love fairy tales or tales from Arabian Nights? This is certainly for you but if possible, don't question. You must watch this especially if you truly love animation and its wonders!!

Details of the movie

Director: Lotte Reiniger
Producer: Not sure.
Story: Andrew Lang
Screenplay: Lotte Reiniger
Cinematography: Carl Koch
Music: Wolfgang Zeller
Studio: Comenius-Film GmbH
Starring: N/A
Full Credit: N/A
Distributor: Comenius-Film GmbH, Milestone Films
Country: German
Language: German
Genre: Adventure Fantasy Romance
Running time: 81 mins
Budget: Not sure.
Box office: Not sure.

Official website(s)
(Internet doesn't exist back then... That's the current distributor's site. =P)

Original post from Rosalyn's Blog.
This article is a part of Rosalyn's Animated Movie Marathon.
Rosalyn can be contacted via email and facebook.

Stay tuned for more animated features!!!


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