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Written by: Lotte Reiniger
Directed by: Lotte Reiniger
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 65
Date: 07/01/1926

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Shadows and Lights

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Adventures of Prince Achmed deserves to be a landmark. And it would be if it were better known. It is technically history's first feature-length animated movie. German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger made it in 1926 at age 23. On top of that, it's a very good movie, not only for animation fans and movie buffs. It plays for one day only, Friday, November 5 at the Castro Theater.

This movie is done completely with silhouettes. It may seem primitive and precious trying to picture that in your head, but the effect is astonishing. Reiniger had been involved with the German Avant-Garde movement, and she makes inventive use of shapes and backgrounds, crafting a definite mood. Indeed, she evokes an entire world using only two dimensions and two shades (the film does use colored tints for backgrounds and effects, but not for details).

The story follows Prince Achmed as he leaves home for the first time on a flying horse. In the land of Waq Waq he falls in love with a beautiful princess but angers the demons who protect her. An evil sorcerer is after him, but an Ogress and Aladdin (yes, that Aladdin) come to his aid. It all comes down to a huge battle with people turning into animals and hurling fireballs at each other.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed will be accompanied by a new live score composed by Bay Area composer Shawn Garmon and performed by the quartet of Garmon on piano, Liberty Miller on oboe, Loralyn Staples on violin, and Rebecca Roundman on cello. Don't miss this wonderful film experience.

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