The first preserved animated feature film in history and an experience as beautiful as exciting. A tale of Chinese shadows and a legendary adventure.


An African sorcerer conjures up a flying horse, which he shows to the Caliph. When the sorcerer refuses to sell it for any amount of gold, the Caliph offers any treasure he has. The sorcerer chooses Dinarsade, the Caliph's daughter, to her great distress. Prince Achmed, Dinarsade's brother, objects, but the sorcerer persuades him to try out the horse. It carries the prince away, higher and higher into the sky, as he does not know how to control it. The Caliph has the sorcerer imprisoned.

When Achmed discovers how to make the horse descend, he finds himself in a strange foreign land, a magical island called Wak Wak ruled by the beautiful Pari Banu. They both fall in love and embark on an epic adventure that will take them to faraway places all over the world in their quest to free Dinarsade.

It is the oldest surviving animated feature film; two earlier ones were made in Argentina by Quirino Cristiani, but they are considered lost. The Adventures of Prince Achmed features a silhouette animation technique Reiniger had invented which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera. Reiniger required several years, from 1923 to 1926, to make this film. Each frame had to be painstakingly filmed, and 24 frames were needed per second. The technique she used for the camera is similar to Wayang shadow puppets, though hers were animated frame by frame, not manipulated in live-action. The original prints featured color tinting.

Several famous avant-garde animators worked on this film with Lotte Reiniger, among them Walter Ruttmann, Berthold Bartosch, and Carl Koch. The story is based on elements from the One Thousand and One Nights written by Hanna Diyab, including "Aladdin" and "The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Perī-Bānū". A homage to this film can be spotted in Disney's Aladdin (1992); a character named Prince Achmed has a minor role in the film.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed features a silhouette animation technique Reiniger had invented which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera.

The Soundtrack

Caspervek's score for The Adventures of Prince Achmed has been one of the band's greatest successes and one of the most frequently played over the years with performances in Spain, Slovakia, and Latvia.

The score breaks away from the band's usual style to delve into the sonorities of the different regions that appear in the film. Thus, we can find rhythms from East Africa, oriental melodies, and typical Arabic music harmonies. Brais González is preparing an orchestral version of the score to be released in 2022.


Episode

Details

  • Director

    Lotte Reiniger

  • Writer

    Lotte Reiniger

  • Runtime

    65 min

  • Year

    1926

  • Country

    Germany

  • Company

    Comenius-Film


Cast

Animation


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