There are some films that are near rites of passage for anyone who wants to call themselves a true fan of any genre. Whether you like them or not watching movies like Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia, The Wizard of Oz are essential to have in your viewing repertoire because of their influence on other films alone. Today’s Indie-mation Club pick The Adventures of Prince Achmed is one such film and luckily it is also a really great film to boot!
The oldest surviving animated feature film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed was made by a groundbreaking German artist named Lotte Reiniger. Using a process called ‘silhouette animation’ Lotte and her friends painstakingly created cardboard and lead cutouts under lights to create an animated film. It gives the feeling of both shadow puppets and stop motion animation at the same time.
What amazes me is the attention to detail Lotte was able to achieve. For instance, the trees could be plain but she cut out individual fruit and leaves. One can only imagine the attention to detail it took to create scenes like this with so many moving images on screen:
The story of The Adventures of Prince Achmed is actually more complicated than you might think. It is reminiscent of ‘Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves’ and starts out with a magician who creates a flying horse that he shows the Caliph, a ruler. The Caliph offers any treasure for the horse but the Magician chooses Dinarsade, the Caliph’s daughter.
Prince Achmed, Dinarsade’s brother, objects and steals the horse while the Magician is imprisoned. Eventually Prince Achmed ends up in a land called Wak Wak with a beautiful woman named Peri Banu:
It is soon after this we get introduced to Aladdin who has his magic lamp. Unfortunately, he is also banished to the Wak Wak. There is also a Magic Witch who appears that they must all defeat in order for the story to end with a happy ending.
When you watch a movie like The Adventures of Prince Achmed it feels like you are watching something truly special. The unique style and the bright colored backgrounds shine and are brilliant. It’s a beautiful and inspiring film made by a true artist and trailblazer Lotte Reiniger.
Have you seen The Adventures of Prince Achmed? What did you think? Put in the comments below and let’s have a discussion!