Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed

Don't worry, I am not planning to kill (nor encouraging the death) of someone named Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed.

Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed is the title of a 1926 German animated Arabian Knights film.

Translated it becomes The Adventures of Prince Achmed, but I like Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed it makes this article sound kinda 'artsy.'

In 1937 Walt Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs a film widely regarded as the "first feature length animated film."

At this point The Adventures of Prince Achmed was 11 years old.

So, is The Adventures of Prince Achmed the "first feature length animated film?"

Probably not.

In 1917 an Argentine animated film was made entitled The Apostle. This film was supposedly over 60 minutes (thus making it a feature.) Unfortunately no prints of that film remain so the claim can no longer be verified.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed was almost lost to time as well. The original camera negative and all theatrical prints are lost. A restored version has been made is based on a colored nitrate positive. This colored nitrate positive had been preserved in the National Film and Television Archive at the British Film Institute.

Understand all that? Me neither.

Here are some more things I don't understand:

1. The balk rule.
2. Why 24 hour drug stores have locks on their doors.
3. The popularity of Will Smith.

Anyway, there is a version of The Adventures of Prince Achmed that is available on video and DVD. It also makes the occasional Turner Classic Movies appearance.

The film looks very different than Snow White. In fact, although this is ANIMATED it is certainly NOT a cartoon. This process is silhouette animation, a type of animation is done by photographing back lit cardboard cut-outs that are moved one frame at a time.

The end result is similar to shadow puppets. Like your dad taking the lamp shade off and entertaining the kids by making his hands look like a rabbit or a dog.

The only difference is that this looks really AWESOME and The Adventures of Prince Achmed never mistook a 'Go-Bot' for a 'Transformer' ruining your 8th Christmas.

Produced in Germany, the film is directed by Lotte Reiniger. Lotte is still considered one of the most successful female animators, as well as a pioneer. In fact, in all the Disney DVD bonus features I have watched I don't ever recall a female animator! Why can't women draw? Perhaps it's because they have long nails and don't chew on them like men do. That must be it. Ladies, start biting your nails and YOU might be the next Max Fleischer.

Plus it gives you something to do when you are waiting at a red light.

The film is silent, but luckily the original musical score has been found and is featured on the newer releases.

"The Adventures of Prince Achmed" tells of an African sorcerer who creates a flying horse. The sorcerer offers the horse to the king, in exchange for his daughter Princess Dinarsade. The Princess' brother, Prince Achmed tries to save her but ends up flying out of control on the magic horse.

Later, Achmed finds a harem and begins kissing every woman in sight (you haven't lived until you see a silhouette animation orgy) until the girls become violent and start beating him (and each other.)

By the end, Achmed has found love, battled the sorcerer and witnessed a Wrestlemania-worthy battle between a rooster and a vulture.

The film clocks in at less than 66 minutes, but still feels a little 'slow' at times. It is, however, dazzlingly brilliant to look at and at points a powerful and emotional experience.

And so is biting ones nails (think about trying it, ladies.)


  1. Hmmmm. Maybe I should have just wrote a peice advocating the death of Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed.

  2. I caught this late night on TCM one night!

    It is interesting to say the least.

  3. Anonymous9/27/2005

    Sweetie, you have issues.

  4. Anonymous9/27/2005


    Thanks for the great publicity and compliment. I a really appreciate you bringing to life my career as an animator. I appreciate a LOTTE.

    Man, I never get tired of that joke. Now I must laugh until I pass out.

  5. Anonymous9/27/2005

    Sweetie, I have been reading your site and it makes me laugh. I enjoy it a LOTT!

    Oh, wait, what did the chick with the chewed up nails say?

  6. Anonymous9/27/2005

    I saw a female animator on the animation tour, or whatever it was called, at MGM Studios. She was the animator that gave a little demonstration and took questions. Everyone was asking about computer animation and she started flipping out, going on and on about how horrible computer animation is and that computers can't create emotion like hand drawn animation, never once mentioning that the computer doesn't do it on it own but just does what an animator tells it. She kept repeating that so much I thought she was a broken down animatronic. Good times. I think that tour is closed now.

  7. As of last year the tour was not closed, yet the actual animation production was. Instead you saw empty offices and got to draw Stitch. I will have to dig my drawing up. IMHO it was pretty good!
    I am not a great artist, but the animator was a good teacher.

    Ans she was a woman, but one with chewed fingernails.

  8. Anonymous9/28/2005

    I would have though they'd close that place down when the cleared out all the animators. I'll have to remember to check it out the next time I'm there now that they let you draw things. I wonder if it's always Stitch or if it changes.

  9. Yeah, it was weird going on the tour without having anything to tour. It was like visiting a dead guys house.