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This review is from: The Adventures of Prince Achmed (DVD)
Film critic Roger Ebert once defined a classic as a movie which you can't bear the thought of never seeing again.
I have just seen The Adventures of Prince Achmed, a movie by German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger. It is the oldest feature-length animated film still in existence (it is said there was an Argentinian outing in 1910, but it is now evidently lost). Achmed was made in 1926, eleven years before Disney made Snow White. The thing is, Walt Disney claimed then that Snow White was the first feature-length animated film, and the Walt Disney Company still makes this claim. It is untrue. Walt Disney was lying then and the Walt Disney Company is lying now.
The Adventures of Prince Achmed takes from several stories in The Arabian Nights including, among others, the story of Aladdin and the lamp. It concerns a magician who tricks Prince Achmed into taking a wild ride on a magic flying horse, after which Achmed encounters a beautiful princess with whom he falls in love, and thereby hangs a tale.
Reiniger used a style of animated silhouettes and minimalist backgrounds which though seemingly simple, were in fact amazingly complex and truly wonderful to see. The characters walk, run, jump, swim, emote, and magically transform. It is a magic seldom surpassed, if ever, on screen.
The silhouette figures and characters were articulated, placed on a light table and filmed one frame at a time. The result is black figures moving against bright tinted backgrounds - Prince Achmed was shot in color, so what's seen on this DVD is as Reiniger shot it, colors and all. This film is not colorized.
Reiniger and her husband Carl Koch made this in a makeshift studio with a ceiling so low they had to work on hands and knees. It required three years of this to produce the film.
It is a beautiful film and one of the loveliest things I've seen. It has become a favorite with me, a film I will watch again and again.
It is a classic.