Shadow Play: The Animated Films of Lotte Reiniger

Shadow Play: The Animated Films of Lotte Reiniger

15 Episodes

The foremost pioneer of silhouette animation, German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger brought enchanting storybook worlds to life through her intricate cutouts and groundbreaking use of a proto-multiplane camera that she developed a decade before the technique was made famous by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Her gorgeous “One Thousand and One Nights”–inspired adventure THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED—thought to be the oldest surviving feature-length animated film—is presented alongside a selection of her more than sixty shorts. Drawing inspiration from fairy tales, classic children’s books, operas, and biblical stories, these dazzling jewels transport viewers to fantastical realms of the imagination as only animation can.

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Shadow Play: The Animated Films of Lotte Reiniger
  • The Adventures of Prince Achmed

    Episode 1

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1926 • Germany

    Widely believed to be the very first animated feature film, Lotte Reiniger’s astonishing 1926 adaptation of tales from “One Thousand and One Nights” uses striking silhouette cutouts and gorgeous color tinting to bring to life the story of an Arabian p...

  • The Flying Coffer

    Episode 2

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1922 • Germany

    One of Lotte Reiniger’s first forays into the world of fairy tales tells the story of a poor young man who sets out to rescue a Chinese princess imprisoned by her father in the tower of a pagoda.

  • The Secret of the Marquise

    Episode 3

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1922 • Germany

    Lotte Reiniger applies her charming cutout animation technique to this early advertisement for the Nivea skin care company.

  • DR. DOLITTLE: LION’S DEN: German Version

    Episode 4

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1923 • Germany

    The animals of Africa pitch in to help Dr. Dolittle tend to a troop of ailing gorillas, orangutans, and baboons.

  • DR. DOLITTLE: LION’S DEN: English Version

    Episode 5

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1923 • Germany

    The animals of Africa pitch in to help Dr. Dolittle tend to a troop of ailing gorillas, orangutans, and baboons.

  • Dr. Dolittle: A Trip to Africa

    Episode 6

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1923 • Germany

    Hugh Lofting’s beloved children’s-book character ventures to Africa in order to cure a band of sick monkeys.

  • Harlequin

    Episode 7

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1931 • Germany

    Lotte Reiniger had already completed her full-length masterpiece THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED when she made this animated tale of romance. A love story set to a baroque score, HARLEQUIN is a delicate black-and-white ballet rendered through exquisite...

  • The Stolen Heart

    Episode 8

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1934 • Germany

    Based on a fable by Ernst Keienburg, this short drama exhibits an entrancing sense of space. Its story about a monstrous man who steals a town’s musical instruments has led scholars to make the case that THE STOLEN HEART is an anti-Nazi allegory. When ...

  • Papageno

    Episode 9

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1935 • Germany

    An example of Lotte Reiniger’s animated music films based on opera, PAPAGENO is filled with impeccable attention to detail. Papageno, a bird catcher from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” idles away the time with his avian companions, fights an undulating sn...

  • The Magic Horse

    Episode 10

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1953 • United Kingdom

    Lotte Reiniger returns to the character of Prince Achmed for this “Arabian Nights”–inspired fantasy in which our hero takes off on a flying horse.

  • The Caliph Stork

    Episode 11

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1954 • Germany

    The caliph of Baghdad is transformed into a stork by his wicked uncle in this adaptation of a tale by Wilhelm Hauff.

  • Aladdin and the Magic Lamp

    Episode 12

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1954 • United Kingdom

    The classic story of a poor young tailor who comes into possession of a lamp containing a wish-granting genie is brought to life through Lotte Reiniger’s enchanting silhouette animation.

  • The Star of Bethlehem

    Episode 13

    Directed by Vivian Milroy and Lotte Reiniger • 1956 • United Kingdom

    Lotte Reiniger combines her trademark silhouette animation with gorgeous color backdrops to tell the story of the Nativity.

  • The Lost Son

    Episode 14

    Directed by Lotte Reiniger • 1974 • United Kingdom

    One of Lotte Reiniger’s final films is an animated retelling of the biblical parable of the prodigal son.

  • Lotte Reiniger: Homage to the Inventor of the Silhouette Film

    Episode 15

    This 1999 German documentary by Katja Raganelli chronciles the life and work of animator Lotte Reiniger.