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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A defining example of the unique art of animation., 14 Oct 2001
By 
Pip Farquharson (Amsterdam, Netherlands) - See all my reviews
The Adventures of Prince Achmed by Berlin avant-gardist Lotte Reiniger was one of the world's first feature-length animated films and premièred in 1926 (with Fritz Lang in the audience!). Employing her unsurpassed silhouette techniques, Reiniger hand-cut and crafted each individual image in this story based on The Arabian Nights. Assisted by husband producer/photographer Carl Koch and fellow animators Berthold Bartosch and Walter Ruttmann, the film took a painstaking 3 years and 300,000 camera shots to complete.
Sadly, much of Reiniger's unique work, including the original negative of this film, was destroyed in Berlin at the end of World War II. However, a nitrate positive had been preserved in the archives of the BFI (British Film Insitute) and, in 1999, 100 years after the birth of Reiniger, new prints were made from it and the original film restored. Fortunately too, Wolfgang Zeller's original music score had been preserved in the Library of Congress, Washington.
To this day it remains timeless, classic, sophisticated, poetic, delicate, magical... a defining example of the unique art of animation.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertainment of shadows, 29 April 2004
This review is from: The Adventures Of Prince Achmed [1926] [DVD] (DVD)
Lotte Reiniger made this enchanting film with a small team, frame by painstaking frame. The characters and scenery remain shadows against tinted backgrounds - it plays like the dream shadow-theatre that you could never have actually made yourself. The stories, adapted from the Arabian Nights, are exciting and absorbing as well for young children, a little tiresome for adults, though Jean Renoir called this 'a masterpiece'. On this DVD we also get a well-made and thoughtful documentary on Reiniger which outlines her biography, has interviews with relatives and experts, and - best of all - contains many beautiful clips from her other shadow films which I hope will be released soon.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch it with incense!, 22 Aug 2001
By 
Amazon Customer (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Adventures Of Prince Achmed [1926] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a remarkable film; made in 1926 by a handful of people under the direction of Lotte Reiniger, ten years before Disney's 'Snow White', this is the first animated feature film still in existence - and we can count ourselves lucky, since the original negatives were all lost in the war. Told in lovingly crafted silhouetted, with a first-class orchestral score, this is an engaging, magical adventure with echoes of the Arabian Nights and Chinese shadow theatre - modern kids might find it heavy going but the child in the rest of us should love it if we give it a chance. Beautiful and atmospheric, with a finely told dramatic story, this is a delightful film and the BFI have done a superb job in rescuing it from the archives and restoring it. Turn the lights down, take the phone off the hook, light some joss sticks and enjoy something quite unique.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creating fairyland with scissors , paper and camera, 23 July 2007
By 
Linda Howell (Guernsey,C.I.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Adventures Of Prince Achmed [1926] [DVD] (DVD)
The only example of Lotte Reiniger's exquisite art at present available, it is difficult to convey the magic and beauty of this film. Animated sillhouettes show an enchanting story . Whilst beautiful, it is not the best example of her work. Tantalising morsels are shown in the excellent 'extra' which shows the staggering talent behind these cut-out scenes and players. Where are all those delightful short fairy stories which first enchanted me on Children's Television in the 1950s ? Please bring them together and release them to us soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating animated film from nearly 90 years ago, 22 Mar 2014
Historians, film buffs, and Disney fanatics all cite Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) as the first animated feature. While it is the first animated feature as we Americans tend to think of animation, actually that “first” honor goes to a little known, innovative oddity from eleven years earlier. The Adventures Of Prince Achmed (1926) is a labor of love from the pioneering female German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger and her husband, Carl Koch.

What makes Achmed still unique 88 years later is animation entirely composed of cutout silhouettes. The result was one of the silent era’s most enchanting and captivating films. It is also a lucid reminder that the medium of film was at its most innovative in its infancy, before the rules were set and the mediums defined.

Reiniger lucked into a patron for her artistic efforts: Louis Hagen supplied her with enough film stock and financing to proceed with her project. Using scissors and black construction paper as her primary tools, Reiniger spent three years meticulously working in an attic on Achmed with a small crew that included her husband/cinematographer, Koch.

Influenced in part by Georges Méliès and Arabian Nights, Reiniger created a world of sensuous, exquisitely detailed beauty. The film has an almost surprisingly coherent and linear narrative, given that Reiniger was embraced by the European avant-garde. Unfortunately, the director had difficulty booking Achmed, and with the exception of Dr. Doolittle And His Animals (1928), the rest of her career was relegated to short films. There was work on a third feature, to be based on Maurice Ravel’s enchanting opera, “L’Enfant et les Sortilèges”; unfortunately, rights to the music could not be secured and the film was abandoned. The Adventures Of Prince Achmed is the only one of Reiniger’s films to date that has seen a home video release. Some of her shorts occasionally appear on television, but often in truncated versions. One such example is Doolittle, which has aired with added (and intrusive) voice over narration, coupled with woefully inadequate projection speeds. Fortunately, YouTube has been more respectful. The Star of Bethlehem (1921), Cinderella (1922), The Adventures of Prince Achmed, Papageno (from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”) (1935), The Magic Horse (1953), and Jack and The Beanstalk (1955) along with a short documentary of her work can all be found there. The documentary shows her storyboarding techniques and the almost rapid-fired speed at which she crafted her baroque figures.

There is a noticeable gap of activity in Reiniger’s filmography from 1938 to the early 1950s. With the rise of Fascism, Reiniger and Koch struggled to flee Germany. Although not Jewish, politically they leaned left, which marked them as subversives. Jean Renoir was among those who aided the couple, but they lived in abject poverty until finally being able to settle in England in 1949. Despite the initial financial failure of Achmed, Reiniger and Koch were respected in film circles and were able to be relatively prolific.

Achmed is of its time in its portrayal of the good guys as completely good, bad guys as completely bad, and the pretty girl as in need of saving (Reiniger’s later films frequently had biblical, Victorian, fairy tale, and operatic themes). Still, it’s put over so beautifully, even the most hardened cynics will hardly care. The color tinting renders the film a phantasmagoric smorgasbord of gemstones. Achmed is awash in emeralds, sapphires, rubies, garnets, aquamarines, amethyst, topaz, citrine, tanzanite, and fire opal.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed weaves interrelated narratives involving our protagonist, his princess sister, their Caliph father, an erotic heroine (who Achmed voyeuristically spies on while she is bathing), a flying horse, a malevolent shape shifting African magician, the Witch of the Fiery Mountain, dancing harlequins, sphinxes, terrifying demons, Aladdin, and the genie of the magic lamp. Locales include an exotic island, a majestic palace, Peru, and China.

Reiniger was master of her medium and an innovator. Every step through her unique world is an enchanting one.

* my review originally appeared at 366 weird movie
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant animation work, well ahead of it's time, 15 Feb 2014
By 
G. Cartmel (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This certainly lived up to expectations. If you've an interest in early cinema, and animation, then this is a fantastic watch. Not only is the main story brilliant, but there's plenty of good extras showing Lotte Reiniger's other works, and the write up booklet is packed full of information, as you'd expect from the BFI.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Creative animation- a classic, 30 Jan 2014
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A unique bit of animation history. The story telling shows its age but still something magical. Something to rewatch over the years.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic full length animation., 19 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Adventures Of Prince Achmed [1926] [DVD] (DVD)
Classic full length animated film from the dawn of cinema.

A silent classic that still has the ability to impress.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great dvd, 25 Nov 2011
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This review is from: The Adventures Of Prince Achmed [1926] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a great dvd, my 8 year old grand son loved it and we all did too. We have watched it many times. It is a wonderful story beautifully animated. We had previously watched it on a borrowed dvd and so knew we liked it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prince Ahmed, 17 Sep 2011
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This review is from: The Adventures Of Prince Achmed [1926] [DVD] (DVD)
This is an extraordinary piece of work. All modern children should see it, as an example of what can be done with paper, scissors, imagination and patience. It is also very entertaining.
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The Adventures Of Prince Achmed [1926] [DVD]
The Adventures Of Prince Achmed [1926] [DVD] by Lotte Reiniger (DVD - 2001)
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