Friday, July 29, 2016

From the Archives: Lotte Reineger's Adventures of Prince Achmed

Any Disney book will tell you that Snow White was the first full length animated film, but Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures of Prince Achmed is "considered by many" to be the first full-length animated film. Snow White would undoubtably be the first full-length hand-drawn animated film, but Disney is not meticulous about making this distinction. Reiniger's story is told through enchantingly intricate paper cutouts and premiered in Germany in 1926-beating Snow White by 11 years.

This story is very sexually charged, but as everything is told through silhouettes, it's more subtle. Prince Achmed is the hero, but I hardly think he's more noble than any of the horny villains.

But the film is spellbinding to watch and the music wonderful, if the historical importance weren't reason enough to watch it. And how interesting that fairy tales are so closely linked with the beginnings of animation?

The story is based off of the story of "Prince Achmed and the Fairy" with a little Aladdin thrown in.

Lotte Reiniger has done versions of several fairy tales, including Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Thumbelina, and Jack and the Beanstalk. Portions, if not full versions, of all of these can be found on youtube.

Fun fact: According to wikipedia, the character Prince Achmed in Disney's Aladdin is a tribute to this film (Prince Ali and Ja'far are also other characters from Arabian Nights)

"You were born a street rat, you'll die a street rat, and only your fleas will mourn you!"


  1. It looks gorgeous - and when you think of how much work it must have been to do the individual cutouts for the animation... Wow!

  2. Really wish I hadn't missed the opportunity to see this film... It looks amazing.

    1. Depending on wjere you live, the movie might be in the public domain

  3. It's a beautiful movie, though I do agree Achmed is only slightly less of a creep than the bad guys. Yeah Disney loves to take cred for inventing feature animation, but the first animated feature came out in 1917 in Argentina. However, all animated features made before Ahmed are lost, so it is considered the oldest surviving. A real shame.

  4. I haven't managed yet to sit through the whole movie. Silent movies are too far removed from current viewing habits. Doesn't help that the story itself is kind of exhausting with its common sexual harassment, latent anitisemitism and open racism. However what I saw is extremely visually stunning, so I might gie it another go.