This video reviews Reiniger’s process for creating evocative and expressive silhouette animation, providing many examples of her ageless work. She continued to use the same process for all the films she made from 1921 until 1979, two years before she died.
Charlotte “Lotte” Reiniger made more than 40 films over her career, all using her invention. Her best known films are The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) – the oldest surviving feature-length animated film, preceding Walt Disney’s feature-length Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) by over ten years – and Papageno (1935), featuring music by Mozart. Reiniger is also noted for devising a predecessor to the first multiplane camera.
As a child, she was fascinated with the Chinese art of silhouette puppetry, even building her own puppet theatre, so that she could put on shows for her family and friends.
As a teenager, Reiniger fell in love with cinema, first with the films of Georges Méliès for their special effects, then the films of the actor and director Paul Wegener, known today for The Golem (1920). In 1915, she attended a lecture by Wegener that focused on the fantastic possibilities of animation.
Reiniger eventually convinced her parents to allow her to enroll in the acting group to which Wegener belonged, the Theatre of Max Reinhardt. She began by making costumes and props and working backstage. She started making silhouette portraits of the various actors around her, and soon she was making elaborate title cards for Wegener’s films, many of which featured her silhouettes. Read more about Lotte Reininger on Wikipedia.