Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed

[Screenshot]I’m an animation buff, and I’ve found the films from the early, expressionistic days of German cinema interesting, so this film sits at a nice intersection of interests. It’s also gorgeous, which helps. One interesting thing about early cinema is how it achieves its aims through imaginative use of the extremely limited technology of the time. This is not only an erly film, but an early animation, so it utilizes methods which have, in many ways, been rendered obsolete, but uses them extraordinarily effectively. The fundamental technology underlying this production is essentially shadow-puppetry: Lotte Reiniger cut out these astonishingly detailed articulated paper-and-cardboard figures, and filmed them in stop-motion. It’s of necessity a rather crude technique, which can only produce silhouettes, but when those silhouettes are as intricate as these are, and they’re laid on a background which suggests setting, the result can be surprisingly immersive. This is quite a cinematic tour de force, from a technical and aesthetic standpoint. As regards plot and suchike concerns, it’s considerably weaker: it’s a pretty straightforward Richard-Burton-Oriental fantasy, and since it’s a silent film, the reliance on title cards for plot advancement means there’s very little subtlety in the story’s construction. But as long as you don’t expect a narrative with terrific depth, this is an enjoyable watch, simply for the artistry in the image-production.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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