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(aka "Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed" )

 

directed by Lotte Reiniger
Germany 1926

 

A beautifully stylized production that bridged classic fairy tales and the animated films on the horizon, The Adventures of Prince Achmed was hailed as the first animated feature when it was released in 1926. The film went on to become an international commercial success and its director, Lotte Reiniger, was called the inventor of the "silhouette film," a technique she used in numerous short and feature-length films, including many fairy-tale stories....Director Jean Renoir called Reiniger's film "a masterpiece" and effusively proclaimed the director "born with magic hands."

Excerpt of review from Felicia Feaster located HERE

Theatrical Release: September 3rd, 1926 (Germany)

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution

BFI

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:05:00
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.28 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Silent (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Lotte Reiniger: Homage to the Inventor of the Silhouette Film (59:21)

DVD Release Date: July 23rd, 2001
Keep Case

Chapters 7

 

Comments

Widely regarded as the first feature length animated film, Lotte Reiniger's "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" was released by the BFI back in 2001. Even though the disc came out nearly nine years ago in the early days of DVD, it still ranks as a very impressive release. I say this not because it has all of the bells and whistles of some of their later releases (it does however have an invaluable documentary, but more on that later), but rather because the film itself is so remarkable. The film is a composite of several tales from the "Arabian Nights", and centers on Achmed's battle with the evil African Sorcerer (no further name is given), who has his sights set on Achmed's sister, the princess. After initially thwarting him, Achmed is accidentally set off on a picaresque adventure that takes him to lands both real and imaginary and finds his path linked to the great Aladdin. The film is perfect for not only children, but also for adults interested in an adventure for the ages.

I'll begin my discussion of the picture by quoting my description of Reiniger's technique:

"Unlike the conventional drawn animation that we're used to in post-Walt Disney cinema, Reiniger used black paper silhouettes which were hand drawn, cut out, and assembled with wire joints. The assembled figures were then placed over a background on an illuminated surfaces and individual pictures were taken with minute movements between shots."

Taken from a restoration back in 1999, the print used here looks very strong. The image is quite clear and the color vibrant, and even a few minor instances of uncorrected damage don't diminish from the enjoyment. There was also occasional ghosting, but even it was visible only when capturing images. In other words, your typical viewer won't even notice it.

While the film itself is silent, the disc comes with the option of having the title cards either translated or read aloud by a narrator. Both tracks use a Dolby Digital 2.0 transfer and sound remarkably clear, as does the accompanying music. The subtitles are clear and do not obstruct the image.

Running almost as long as the main feature, the documentary "Lotte Reiniger: Homage to the Inventor of the Silhouette Film", is the only feature to be found in the release aside from some brief liner notes on the inside of the package. Although the documentary was shot after Reiniger's death (for actual video of Reiniger at work, see the documentary found on Lotte Reiniger: Fairy Tale Films reviewed HERE), the documentary gives a very detailed overview of her life and work.

Overall, this is an outstanding set, and one that I can easily recommend. This is great animation and I strongly advice anyone interested to check it out.

 -Brian Montgomery

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

BFI

Region 2 - PAL




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