Lotte Reiniger | Scissor-Handed Silhouette Artist

“Lotte Reiniger is one of the leaders of shadow theater and animated cinema. It isn’t just that she shot the world’s first animated film that made him a pioneer. The paper cut with her hand and scissors; It is not that it creates the scene, the background, the characters, the objects or even the whole pattern.
It is art that he created excitedly from the beginning of the century until the end. “

Lotte is a true artist. It uses sheets of varying thickness and transparency to create visual depth and hues. In fact, it is possible to watch every scene she does with admiration and holding your breath.

The stage is created by illuminating a horizontal table from below. She has worked for years with a well-deserved reputation for “The Adventures of Prince Achmed.” She has made dozens of short films. “The Gallant Little Tailor”, which won him the first prize at the Venice Film Festival, is her most popular film, Papageno. In this movie about the bird hunter, she gets enough of music with Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute.

Techniques used by Reiniger, quite familiar to us. She follows in the footsteps of the Karagoz Phantas. Reiniger However, her silhouettes are much deeper and her fiction is much stronger.


Lotte, born in Berlin in 1899, tells about her life in her own words.

“When I was at school, all the kids were cutting out the paper and using it to make silhouettes. I fell in love with this job. While the other children were playing outside, I was animating the silhouettes I cut out of paper, creating theaters like Snow White with them. As I grew up, my parents started enjoying this hobby. I was sitting at home playing my silhouettes calmly and building my own shadow theater. ”

“When the cinema was found, I took off my hat in this invention. The most interesting fantasy movies I remember were those of George Méliès that I watched in 1915. I watched a lecture given by Paul Wegener, who shot the movie Golem. It was telling the technical part of the work, and the special effects I found fascinating. I was only fifteen years old. I said to myself “I have to meet this guy”. I became a member of the Reinhardt Theater School. He was very interested in me, he let me finish the small parts of his movie.

In 1918, Wegener introduced me to a group of young people. This group had just started working in a scientific and experimental studio. “The Ornament with a Love-sick Heart” was made in silhouettes. Although it was only five minutes long, it was shown in theaters. ”

At the age of 23, Lotte started working on her first animated feature film. Between 1923 and 1926, Rieniger and Koch created The Adventures of Prince Achmed with their assistant animators Walter Rutmann, Bertolt Bartosch, Alex Kardan. This movie was a real first. It was released before Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was a fairy tale like Prince Ahmet, and although it was based on Tales of One Thousand and One Nights, it managed to switch to a realistic style with its three-dimensional depth effect based on the separation of the background and front figures.

“My movie, The Adventures of Prince Ahmet, ended in 1926. Fritz Lang was among the audience at the preview of the film. I’ve never seen anything like this before. They were clapping after every effect, after every scene ”



Lotte made dozens of films in the fertile years of the 1930s. Each time she added something of himself to his musical line. In 1935, she opened a successful exhibition with his works in England.

When her husband Carl Koch went to France for a while, Lotte decided to stay in London. Here she met GPO filmmaker John Grierson, a filmmaker like her husband. The GPO asked her to do an advertisement for Christmas.

After that, Lotte and her husband started traveling in Europe. However, they settled in London permanently in 1949.

“I started making movies for the BBC and American Television. I had prepared a full series of shadow plays for the BBC. Then we started to shoot the movie The Magic Horse, which looks like Prince Ahmet. My husband and I constantly worked on movies in the 1950s and we never left London ”
After her husband Carl’s death, Lotte set herself on the road. She made puppets for theaters. She organized workshops and conferences for young filmmakers.

She died in 1981. In 1999, the British Film Institute started to preserve and present Lotte’s The Adventures of Prince Ahmet in its collections so that future generations can watch and enjoy it with the same admiration.


In Germany

* Rübezahls Hochzeit (Titles, 1916)
* Die Schöne Prinzessin von China (Titles, 1916) [SET DECORATION, PROPS]
* Der Rattenfänger von Hamelin (aka The Pied Piper of Hamelin, titles, 1918)
* Das Ornament des verliebten Herzens (aka The Ornament of the Loving Heart, 1919)
* Der fliegende Koffer (1919)
* Aschenputtel (aka Cinderella, 1919)
* Amor und das standhafte Liebespaar (1920)
* Der verlorene Schatten (Sequence for feature, 1920)
* Der Stern von Bethlehem (1922)
* Dornröschen (1922)
* Die Geschichte des Prinzen Achmed (aka Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed, Wak-Wak, ein Märchenzauber aka The Adventures of Prince Achmed, feature, 1923-6)
* Der scheintote Chinese (segment of Prince Achmed, 1928)
* Doktor Dolittle und seine Tiere (The Adventures of Dr. Dolittle, three shorts – Abenteuer: Die Reise nach Afrika – Abenteuer: Die Affenbrucke – Abenteuer: Die Affenkrankheit, 1928)
* Zehn Minuten Mozart (1930)
* Die Jagd nach dem Glück (aka Running After Luck, feature sequence, 1930) [CO-SCR] [CO-SOUND] o Harlekin (aka Harlequin, 1931)
* Sissi (Interlude for Kreisler opera premeire, 1932)
* Carmen (1933) o Don Quichotte (Sequence for feature film, 1933)
* Das rollende Rad (1934)
* Der Graf von Carabas (1934)
* Das gestohlene Herz (aka The Stolen Heart, 1934)
* Papageno (1935)
* Galathea (1935)
* Das kleine Schornsteinfeger (aka The Little Chimney Sweep, 1935)

in England

* The King’s Breakfast (1936)
* Tocher (1936) o Le Marseillaise (sequence for French feature, 1938)
* Dream Circus (not completed, 1939)
* L’elisir d’Amore (not completed, 1939)
* Mary’s Birthday (1951)
* Aladdin (for TV, 1953)
* The Magic Horse (for TV, 1953)
* Snow White and Rose Red (for TV, 1953)
* The Three Wishes (for TV, 1954)
* The Grasshopper and the Ant (for TV, 1954)
* The Frog Prince (for TV, 1954)
* The Gallant Little Tailor (for TV, 1954)
* The Sleeping Beauty (for TV, 1954)
* Caliph Stork (for TV, 1954)
* Hansel and Gretel (1955)
* Thumbelina (for TV, 1955)
* Jack and the Beanstalk (aka Jack the Giant Killer, for TV, 1955)
* The Star of Bethlehem (for TV, 1956)
* La Belle Helene (aka Helen la Belle, 1957)
* The Seraglio (1958)
* The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Interlude for Theatrical performance, 1960)
* The Frog Prince (Interlude for Theatrical performance, 1961)
* Wee Sandy (Interlude for Theatrical performance, 1962)
* Cinderella (Interlude for Theatrical performance, 1963)
* The Lost Son (Interlude for Theatrical performance, 1974)
* Aucassin et Nicolette (Interlude for Theatrical performance, 1976)
* The Rose and the Ring (Interlude for Theatrical performance, 1979)