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.
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.