Crafton, Donald. "Before Mickey: The Animated Film, 1898-1928" University of Chicago Press, 1993. (Chapter 7)
Chapter 7 of Crafton's book goes into great detail about commercial animation in Europe. He describes much of the avant-garde work done by other filmmakers and animators, such as Vertov and Starevitch, but also devotes a small section to Reiniger. Here, he discusses her work with silhouettes and puppets and delves into the making of and reception of The Adventures of Prince Achmed. He notes the use of a primitive multiplane camera to develop depth and background images, such as that of the atmosphere. Furthermore, he notes the influence of German Expressionism in her use of shadows, "spiky figures, misty landscapes and fantastic plots."
This chapter of Crafton's book is relevant to the thesis because it supports the assertion that Reiniger's film was Expressionist, and Reiniger had an influence in early technological innovation with the multiplane camera. Her training and the avant-garde culture in Germany certainly influenced her work. Although the book as a whole stops short of discussing Disney, it can be inferred that the advances she made in the making of this film were influential in later films made by Disney. Reiniger's prolific body of works beyond the borders of Germany for decades must have been noted by Disney on one of his many European trips and must have influenced animators who he hired, many of which were European, specifically German.
This article specifically delves into German influence on Disney. The article points out how Expressionism was a reaction to realism in film and often depicted science-fiction, dystopian or otherwise fantastic settings. Expressionism also relied on stylized sets and character expressions to convey the overwhelming mood. Reiniger's film is no different, though the detailed expressions she creates with cardboard cut outs is beyond impressive. The article gives more examples of Disney films with Expressionist influence.
Although slightly redundant with the material in Allan's book, this article is relevant to the thesis in a similar fashion as that book. Reiniger began work on the film in 1923, during the heart of Expressionism in Germany. She studied and worked with Max Reinhardt, among others, who influenced her style and the style of Hollywood after their escape from Nazi Germany. The Adventures of Prince Achmed was highly stylized to emphasize the setting in a fantastic world. Although they are essentially shadows, the characters gesture in expressive manners. Incredible detail is in each shot as the silhouettes move across the constant background. The Expressionist techniques highlight the exoticism portrayed in the film.
Penny Starfield, "Film and Art : On the German Expressionist and the Disney Exhibitions" Transatlantica, 2006:2, Jan 23, 2007.
The first chapter of this book, written by Jack Zipes, discusses Disney's role in animating fairy tales and essentially making an industry out of it. Disney drew much of his inspiration for his films from various fairy tales, and in some cases as the book asserts, imposed new meaning to these tales. The chapter explores the history of fairy tales as means of passing morals, essentially having an indoctrination function. Literacy changed the audience and served a class-separation role, among other roles, all the way through the late nineteenth century. Zipes suggests Disney continued the tradition of putting fairy tales into "book" form through its animation department. Given his early success and the development of the animated film industry, Disney was able to implement and perfect other forms of technology to become a leader in animation.
While little credit is attached to where Disney got his inspiration from, the chapter is relevant to the thesis. It outlines some of the similarities, potentially directly drawn from German Expressionism in Disney's work. It was the revolutionary technology that put Disney's work above the rest. A couple of these techniques, which may have been borrowed from European animators on one of Disney's many trips, were experimented on by Reiniger, one being the multiplane camera. The use of this camera to create depth out of two-dimensional images is noted in several of Disney's early works. Reiniger used an early form of the camera to create an illusion of depth in her silhouette images, too. Furthermore, Reiniger's inspiration for using the Arabian Nights' tale was derived from the familiarity the audience would have with these tales and the artistic match between the Expressionist film and the fantastic tale.
Bell, Elizabeth. "From Mouse to Mermaid." Indiana University Press, 1995. (Chapter 1 by Jack Zipes).
This article details some of the technological and creational aspects of Reiniger's film. First it points out how Reiniger drew her ideas for films from fairy tales and legends, which is no different for Prince Achmed (from 1001 Arabian Nights). Furthermore its use of tinting allows there to be toned backgrounds for the black silhouettes. Furthermore, Reiniger had designed an early form of multi-plane camera, which gives a 3D-effect by separating foregrounds and backgrounds into different layers. Finally, for complex movements, they had to be built from 25 to 50 pieces, all joined together with fine lead wire, showing the amount of detail that was afforded to each scene.
The article is relevant to the thesis because these techniques, each in their own way, were later used by other filmmakers both in Hollywood and in Europe. Reiniger in particular went on to work on several other puppet shows or shadow plays. The influence of Reiniger's film is particularly noted in the use of the multi-plane camera. Furthermore, the movement is fluid, and the sense of near and far is simply achieved by bringing the many transparent backdrops closer or further from the lens and the light source. As seen in class, Disney used this to create the three-dimensional animation as seen in Bambi.
Rahman, Zora. "German silhouette film meets Indonesian 'wayang'," JAKARTA POST. December 20, 2002.
Speed, Louise. Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies, Vol. 17, No.1, 2003. pgs 181-183.
This article discusses the Expressionist nature of Reiniger's film, discusses the role of Wolfgang Zeller's score in the film and compares Reiniger's film to Disney animation. Reiniger is able to create expressive interaction between characters without facial expressions, but only silhouettes. Furthermore, the article discusses the "sexy and voyeuristic" aspects of the film. With silhouettes Reiniger is offered more leeway to have her heroine be spied upon as she bathes in an animated feature. This contrasts to what Disney would ever do, particularly in light of the Hays Code. Furthermore, Zeller's score ties the action to the music. Unique to this time, the Reiniger harmonizes the movement of her characters to the music.
The article is relevant to the thesis because it studies the Expressionist elements and compares Prince Achmed to other Disney films. The score adds an Expressionist element as the characters are allowed to move with the music, adding a rhythm to the film that meshes with the fantastical plot. The "nudity" aspect adds to the exoticism and the nightmarish turn of events for Pari Banu, essentially heightening the stylistic feel of the film. Finally, the film creates a three-dimensional world out of two-dimensional cutouts with varied lighting; the influence in Disney films is seen in the 30s and 40s.
The article exclusively discusses the technological aspects of animation, particularly in Disney. Chadwell argues that technology drives illusion, which is the "foundation of animation." Disney was interested in the technological aspects of animation; the entire team that worked on a film was essentially an assembly line, with each member contributing their little part to the whole. In the end it is the complete product that viewers are interested in; therefore, the credit too went to the company or a major figurehead rather than the individual animators. Furthermore, he points out that the multiplane camera's primary role was to create the illusion of depth to make the film more realistic. Essentially, Disney's investment in Snow White was predicated on the use of new technology, which eventually led to the success of this film and future ones, as well.
The article is relevant to the thesis, albeit in a limited fashion, because it deals with Disney's use of the multiplane camera in the making of his first feature film. Reiniger established a similar technique a decade earlier. By lighting a background image less, the main action and characters are brought to the forefront while detail of the backdrop still remains, thus creating an illusion of depth. Obviously Snow White was a technologically superior film given the decade to perfect this piece of technology, yet Reiniger's influence on Disney is once again apparent. The misshapen evil characters of many Disney films are also influenced by Reiniger's jagged, stylized demons and sorcerers. All together, Reiniger's influence was derived not only from her work on Prince Achmed, but the experimental nature and abundance of her work.
Chadwell, Sean. "Technological Determinism and the Poisoned Apple: The Case of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Reconstruction 8.2, 2008.
This detailed press kit includes an excerpt from Lotte Reiniger's own article "Scissors make films," discussing her work with silhouette animation, a synopsis of the film and a plethora of detail regarding the technology and experimental techniques employed in the film. The kit notes the expressive movement of Reiniger's silhouettes, probably learned at Reinhardt's school and through her work in silent film. Also of note was the selection of the piece as Expressionist. Fairy tales and fables would inspire Disney, too. The Arabian Nights were so fantastic, with flying horses, demons and mutable forms, that animation would be an appropriate medium, particularly aided by Expressionism. The kit also documents some social aspects relevant to the film. Post-WWI inflation deflated the value of German currency so making a film was not very expensive and such an epic project was not as great a burden.
The document is relevant to the thesis because it details the technology and Expressionist styles that would later become associated with other Hollywood (particularly Disney) films. The experimental techniques are now commonplace, but back then, working on animating waves or twinkling stars as Bertold Bartosch did was a technological feat. A decade later, Disney would employ these techniques in their animated films. Reiniger's film was certainly more abstract than the features Disney would make, but the ideological context of the film was consistent with Expressionism. Furthermore, the use of Zeller's score created rhythmic, surreal movement- another hallmark of German Expressionism.
Pidhajny, Carl. "The Adventures of Prince Achmed Press Kit." Milestone Film, 2001.
This article reviews the techniques and Expressionist plot devices used to create the characters' emotions and stylized sets. Of note is the detail about the characters and the silhouettes. The silhouettes are intricate and include specific corporal detail about the hands and eyes. Even an imaginary camera is created as Reiniger uses panoramic shots, long shots, close-ups, different camera angles, and even special effects. She would later make other films such as Carmen, Papageno, Dr. Dolittle and His Animal. The article particularly discusses the Island of Wak Wak; it is as exotic, or perhaps more so, as the main city, with shots including a great amount of fantastical detail. The tropical rain forest on Wak Wak has twisted trees and outspread fronds that resemble the twisted limbs and outspread fingers of the characters. Finally, the climactic battle is filled with complex action and jagged-shaped, fantastical monsters being diced by Prince Achmed. Even the scene where Aladdin and the witch are summoning the genie, the lighting is innovative and unique for a shadow play.
The article is relevant to the thesis in its detail of the Expressionist devices and the techniques used in the film. The mid-1920s, when Reiniger made her film, were in the heart of the German Expressionist movement. Reiniger had learned from and with some of the influential Expressionist directors, so it was no surprise that Prince Achmed would have so many Expressionist techniques. Expressionism was appropriate for the plot as well since it dealt with an exotic Middle Eastern tale filled with magic and fantasy.
Allan, Robin. Walt Disney and Europe: European Influences on the Animated Feature Films of Walt Disney. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1999. (Chapter 2)
Robin Allan's book discusses European influences on Disney animated feature films. In particular it discusses the role German Expressionism played in Disney films of the 30s and 40s. The book details how Disney's frequent trips to Europe, and the immigration of Europeans, particularly Germans during the rise of the Nazis, specifically influenced the style of Disney films. Later in the book he discusses Expressionism in Fantasia at length, but the European influence on Disney is apparent in this chapter.
This book is relevant to my thesis because Lotte Reiniger's films exhibited many Expressionist features. The Adventures of Prince Achmed was highly stylized to emphasize the setting in a fantastic world, as can be seen by the Nosferatu-like hands. As with many of the early films, the plots were derived from stories people would have known; in this case, Reiniger's tale is from 1001 Arabian Nights. Also, Expressionist techniques could highlight the exoticism portrayed in the film. Reiniger's use of cardboard cut outs with multiplane cameras also was borrowed by Disney for his later features. The effect of Reiniger's silhouette stop motion animation was to create shadows and various degrees of lighting, both of which were common effects of the German Expressionist movement.
This article analyzes the use of silhouettes and shadows in plays and film and the relevant history regarding Chinese shadow plays. The article primarily references Shadows (1922), a film that features the "familiar visual patterns, performance styles, and chiaroscuro lighting effects associated with German Expressionist films." Once again it is noted how the shadow play techniques were used to reveal hidden fears and desires and heighten the supernatural elements of their films. In China, some of the earliest films featuring Chinese figures focused on the "mutable, strange body and featured tricks that defied physical limitations" much like the Expressionists and animators were trying to achieve with their fantasy realms.
The article is relevant to the thesis because Reiniger's use of silhouette animation was vital to future films. She would go on to collaborate with other directors to make scenes of shadow plays for other films. The lighting and detail of her silhouettes conveyed the sense of fantasy in the film. The article also points out how the "emphasis on shadow plays and silhouettes is important for a film stressing faith in images." The body language of all the characters, for example in the scene where Achmed is kissing the five servant girls and they begin fighting, is so detailed that the shadows seem to take a life of their own.
Maurice, Alice. "What the Shadow Knows: Race, Image, and Meaning in Shadows (1922)" Cinema Journal. 47, Number 3, Spring 2008.