Other Kinds of Influence

The Adentures of Prince Achmed- Lotte Reiniger

I wrote before in this blog about being influenced by the different painters that show at the West End Gallery.  But there are multitudes of things that influence any painter other than the work of other painters.  The rhythm and emotion of music.  The imagery of the written word.  The movement of dance.  So many different mediums can inspire.

I have been greatly influenced by many of the films I’ve been fortunate to see.  One that fits this blog is The Adventures of Prince Achmed.  It was made in 1926 Germany by Lotte Reiniger and was one of the first full length animated films made. It’s a form of animation that Reiniger pioneered and mastered, based on Eastern shadow theatre.  Using silhouette figures , each is painstakingly cut and filmed in incremental small movements with time lapse photography to produce motion in the film.  This film took three years to complete.

Scene from Reinger's Film

In this telling of the Arabian Nights stories, I was immediately struck by the beauty and movement of the colors in the film. Each cell was tinted by hand to produce intense bursts of color that gave the film a gorgeous surreal quality. The movements of the figures in the film are smooth and natural, very subtle. I found myself so taken with watching the movements and changes that I found myself not following the story. But I didn’t care. It was beautiful to see and sparked the imagination.

Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981), born in Germany and living most of her post-WW II life in Britain, left quite a body of work from a career that spanned over 50 years, including one of the first film versions of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle. She’s pretty much unknown in popular culture which is a great shame. Her work is marvelous and deserves to be seen.

Here’s a clip from The Adventures of Prince Achmed.  Thanks to the miracle of YouTube a lot of Reiniger’s work is available for all to see.  There’s a great version of Cinderella from 1954 that shows how far her art had progressed over the year .

————–Posted by Gary Myers


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