28 October 2016

Lotte Reiniger

Lotte Reiniger was a German animator, born in Berlin in 1899. Reiniger made more than 60 films in her life, beginning to experiment while still in school. Reiniger's masterpiece, 'The Adventures of Prince Achmed' (1926), is considered to be the oldest surviving feature length animation and took 3 years to complete. She was inspired by Chinese shadow puppetry and she created delicate paper silhouettes for her animations.

Fig. 1 'The Adventures of Prince Achmed' (1926)
Her animation was revolutionary and there is no doubt that she has inspired works throughout history and her influence can still be felt today. Film historian and reviewer Philip Kemp wrote for Screen Online that 'To date she has no rivals, and for all practical purposes the history of silhouette animation begins and ends with Reiniger.' (Kemp, s.d.)

Fig. 2 Reiniger at work
She based the stories for her animations on European fairy tales and tales of the Arabian Nights; this combined with the Chinese influence on her style makes for a very interesting and unique atmosphere to her works. Sarah Cronin, writing for Electric Sheep Magazine, commented that Reiniger worked by 'depicting her characters with an almost grotesque exaggeration that mirrors the over-the-top acting in live action silent pictures.' (Cronin, 2008) Reiniger's work can be related to the German Expressionist movement; the dark silhouettes, crooked shapes and exaggeration in her work are reminiscent of the style in films such as Robert Weine's 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari' (1920). She also created stunning worlds for her characters to inhabit and was able to create a sense of depth that thoroughly defies the inherent flatness of the paper she worked with.

Fig. 3 'Sleeping Beauty' (1954)

Boult, A. (2016). 'Who is Lotte Reiniger? The pioneering animator who would have been 117 today'. At: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/06/01/lotte-reiniger-the-pioneering-film-maker-whose-shadow-puppets-in/ (Accessed on 28.10.16)

Cronin, S. (2008). 'Lotte Reiniger's Fairy Tale Films'. At: http://www.electricsheepmagazine.co.uk/reviews/2008/12/02/lotte-reinigers-fairy-tale-films/ (Accessed on 28.10.16)

Kemp, P. (s.d.). 'Reiniger, Lotte (1899-1981)'. At: http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/528134/ (Accessed on 28.10.16)

Nye, S. (2013). 'SCOTT REVIEWS LOTTE REINIGER’S THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED [BLU-RAY REVIEW]'. At: http://criterioncast.com/reviews/blu-ray-reviews/scott-reviews-lotte-reinigers-the-adventures-of-prince-achmed-blu-ray-review (Accessed on 28.10.16)

Illustration List

Fig. 1 'The Adventures of Prince Achmed' (1926)

Fig. 2 Reiniger at work

Fig. 3 'Sleeping Beauty' (1954)

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