The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) Director: Lotte Reiniger
The plot for The Adventures of Prince Achmed is largely borrowed from the Thousand and One Nights, particularly the story of “Aladdin.” This remarkable animated film uses a unique silhouette/shadow technique and was entirely filmed using stop-action camera techniques. Cardboard cutouts were created frame-by-frame and placed in front of a lit background on the camera, like a shadow puppet. It took three years of meticulous work (from 1923-1926) to create the film, as there are approximately 24 frames per second. This film is alluded to in several Disney films, including Fantasia as well as Aladdin in which a Prince Achmed character is introduced in the beginning. Achmed was more recently alluded to in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt I, during a narrative about the ‘Tale of the Three Brothers.’
Lotte Reiniger seems like a fascinating woman, a landmark director of early silent and animated cinema, a pioneer on multiple fronts. She was a German filmmaker who created some 40 films in her lifetime but she is best known for Achmed. She developed an early love for cinema in Germany and found success with her animated stories. She later fled Germany during the Nazi era, met many great film directors like Jean Renoir, before returning to Germany. She died in 1981 in Germany.