Fig.1 Lotte Reiniger
Lotte Reiniger (1899 – 1981) was a German silhouette animator, with a career as an independent filmmaker that is among the longest in film history. Reiniger was one of the twentieth century's major animation artists, with a unique and distinctive style of black and white silhouette animation in her interpretations of classic myths and fairy tales. Reiniger is among the great figures of animators, and stands alone on one point because no one else has taken a specific animation technique and made it their own unlike Reiniger. With the history of silhouette animation beginning and ending with Reiniger, she took the ancient art of shadow-plays and adapted it for the cinema.
Reiniger was born in Berlin 1899, and from an early age she showed an exceptional and self-taught ability to cut free-handed paper silhouettes. She would then use them in her own homemade shadow theatre. Silhouette animation did existed before 1919, but Reiniger was its greatest practitioner. She had found away to transform a technique, from its bland genre to a recognized art form that still inspires animators today.
It can be said that most of Reiniger’s films comprise of Fairy tales, which of course was one of her first films in 1922, based on a much loved fairy tale "Cinderella". The films form and style is astonishing and the way that her "Animated figures provide archetypal rather than definitive renderings of fairytale characters, and particularly in Reiniger’s monochromatic stories, the images allow space for the viewer’s imagination to fill in the gaps." (North, 2009) It is the way that her silhouettes make the gestures of the characters and this captures the viewer’s imagination.
Reiniger inscribes her films with her distinctive signature. For example in the opening section of "Cinderella", where the scissors makes that first cut of the main character. This is the way that she shows the viewer that she started out with simple raw materials paper and scissors. Just as any storyteller would provide an introduction to explain the difference between the real and story worlds. Reiniger is showing the viewer how she brings her silhouettes to life.
Fig. 3 ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’ (1926) Film Still
From 1923 to 1926, Reiniger worked with Carl Koch, Walther Ruttmann and Berthold Bartosch on what is her most famous work, ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’. The film "was a pioneer feature-length animated film, one must proclaim that it is a brilliant feature, a wonderful film full of charming comedy, lyrical romance, vigorous and exciting battles, eerie magic, and truly sinister, frightening evil." (Moritz, 1996) After completing ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’, Reiniger never again attempted to make a feature-length animated film. For the rest of her career she concentrated on shorts until she died in 1981.
Hans Richter, who knew Reiniger, wrote that she "belonged to the avant-garde as far as independent production and courage were concerned," but that the spirit of her work seemed Victorian. Renoir placed her even further back in time, as "a visual expression of Mozart's music." It is more likely that, like the fables and myths and fairy tales on which many of her films are based, her work transcends time and fashion." (Starr, 2010)
North, Dan (2009) Lotte Reiniger’s Cinderella (1922). http://drnorth.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/lotte-reinigers-cinderella-1922/ (Accessed on 23/02/2011)
Moritz, William (1996) Lotte Reiniger. http://www.awn.com/mag/issue1.3/articles/moritz1.3.html
Starr, Cecile (2010 ) REINIGER, Lotte. http://www.filmreference.com/Writers-and-Production-Artists-Po-Ro/Reiniger-Lotte.html (Accessed on 23/02/2011)
List Of Illustrations
Figure. 1 http://www.taringa.net/posts/tv-peliculas-series/3625343/Las-aventuras-del-principe-Achmed-_-subt-_1er-largo-animado.html (Accessed on 24/03/2011)
Figure. 2 Reiniger, Lotte (1922) Cinderella Film Still. http://drnorth.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/lotte-reinigers-cinderella-1922/ (Accessed on 24/03/2011)
Figure. 3 Reiniger, Lotte (1926) The Adventures of Prince Achmed Film Still. http://www.siffblog.com/reviews/celestial_patience_and_running_with_scissors_weimar_animator_lotte_reiniger_and__004758.html (Accessed on 24/03/2011) (Accessed on 23/02/2011)