Director: Karl Koch, Lotte Reiniger
Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is commonly claimed to be the first animated feature film. However, over a decade before, in 1926, Berlin-born avant gardist Lotte Reiniger designed the exquisite 'siIhouette film', The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Loosely based on 1001 Arabian Nights, the film employs elaborate cutouts, early multi-plane camera work (to add three-dimensionality), as well as experiments with wax and sand to produce this exquisite visual feast.
A fantasy world of plotting sorcerers, fearless heroes, magic lamps and flying horses, Prince Achmed is sophisticated in both plot and technology. The detailing of both locale (the exotic and frightening alien lands of Wak Wak) and character (a princess and her attendants fly down to bathe in island lake on lace wings) is incredible. Early visual effects and the use of colour to punctuate excitement— spells and enchantments, rampaging orges, mechanical animals—is amazingly elaborate for such early cinema. This reconstructed version, presented here on tape, comes courtesy of the British Film Institute who have undertaken a restoration, complete with new English intertitles.
"There's never been anything like it... the images, most of them gorgeously detailed, are dazzling. A rapturous animated kaleidoscope with a more abstracted visage of 1001 Arabian Nights than you could dream "—San Francisco Chronicle