Reiniger ImageLotte Reiniger spent much of her life creating unique and often amazing silhouette animation. After a short period of at Max Rienhardt's studio, Reiniger began began working on intertitle design for Paul Wegener's films at the age of sixteen. Her titles were made of hand-cut silhouettes, and in 1919 she developed this technique to create a complete animated silhouette film. In 1921, Reiniger married Carl Koch, who served as her producer and camera operator for the next 40 years.

Between 1923 and 1926, Rieniger and Koch, with assistance from animators Walter Rutmann, Bertolt Bartosch, and Alex Kardan, created The Adventures of Prince Achmed. One of the world's first feature-length animated films, The Adventures of Prince Achmed displayed Reiniger's ability to create captivating characters through intricate design and an amazingly graceful sense of movement. The film remains unsurpassed as a demonstration of animated art.

With the advent of sound, Reiniger made a series of short films set to the music of Mozart. Through the 1930's, with the rise of Disney, Fleischer, and Warner Bros., character-based cel animation became the dominant animation form. As animated cartoons, with their costly and labor-intensive production requirements, became the standard, the works of filmmakers like Reiniger became less marketable. But because silhouette animation requires considerable patience and individual skill, but not necessarily the the production costs of cel animation, Reiniger was able to continue creating her unique animation until the 1970s.

Modern audiences seem to have an aversion to viewing silhouette animation, until they've seen the films of Lotte Reiniger. Even her later films, produced for television in the 1950s and noticably less sophisticated than her early work, possess a pure cinematic magic that is present in the work of very few animators. In all likelihood, there will never be a silhouette animator who will match Reiniger's skill, vision, and patience, and her films may well remain a unique testament to the potential achievements of the artform. Her films may easily hold their magic for audiences of the future, one hundred, two hundred, three hundred years from now. If this is true, by patiently creating beautiful silhouette animation based on fable and myth, Lotte Reiniger may have created a legacy of filmwork which will offer entertainment and amazement for the ages.

Born June 2, 1899, Berlin; Died June 19, 1989.

Lotte Reiniger Filmography.


Back to Silent Era Personalities Page.


Copyright 1996 E.H. Larson.