Once upon a time, long before Disney or Pixar, Lotte Reiniger ignited the world of animation with shadows, light, and a pair of magical scissors.
Once upon a time, long before Disney and the other animation giants, Lotte Reiniger ignited the screen with shadows, light, and a pair of magical scissors.
And so with music, magic, and a stirring narration by Lotte herself, LOTTE THAT SILHOUETTE GIRL tells the largely unknown story of one of animations’ biggest influencers. Her unique style of storytelling and visual contrast inspired many, including modern day filmmakers Henry Selick, Anthony Lucas and many others. Lotte's 1926 film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed is the oldest surviving feature length animation, and she also invented the multi-plane camera, both of which changed the field of animation forever. And sadly, both feats are often mistakenly credited to Walt Disney. This stunning documentary uses Lotte’s utterly unique silhouette style as it re-writes history from a new point of view to tell the magical and charming fairy tale of Lotte Reiniger’s life. It is a visual symphony that will delight audiences with its smart, artful, and romantic animation accompanied by a truly imaginative and emotional musical score as well as the wonderful narration of Lotte’s gravely and thickly accented voice.
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When I first saw one of Lotte Reiniger’s films (it was her 1922 Cinderella), I didn’t immediately realize that she had captured on film one of my favorite experiences. I was just mesmerized, watching in a trance. Much later, after I started making a film about her, I began to understand what drew me in so deeply. It was the experience of listening to folk tales and scary stories around a campfire. It was the moving light, the crackling and popping sounds, and the obscured face and hands of the storyteller moving back and forth out of the darkness and into the light. It’s an ancient artform, and its simplicity works because it ignites our imaginations. Lotte Reiniger’s films do just this. They are magical and beautiful and utterly compelling.
So why hadn’t I heard of her?
She holds two of the most important achievements in animation; she invented the multiplane camera which was revolutionary for animators, and she created the oldest surviving feature length animation! But these achievements are both often mistakenly credited to Walt Disney because unfortunately, the authors of our history books often skew male and American.
So I became a little obsessed with this lady. I kept finding more of her films and bits of information here and there. And then one day, I discovered the most charming interview with Lotte. It was recorded in 1976, and I started a project of mixing musical themes with her voice, and then playing with timing to create a story out of her answers to the interviewer’s questions. A lot more work happened after that, and I couldn’t be happier with the film. One of Lotte’s great old friends, Paul Gelder, said Lotte would have been thrilled with it as well! Which is such a relief to hear because as we made the film, we were constantly asking ourselves what Lotte, our hero in the shadows, would think of it.
- Carla Patullo