Lotte Reiniger

(excerpted from Cecile Starr in

Lotte Reiniger's (1899 - 1991) career as an independent filmmaker is among the longest and most singular in film history, spanning some 60 years (1919-79) ... THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED is the world's first feature-length animation film, made when she was in her mid-twenties  ... As a teenager at Max Reinhardt's acting studio, she was invited by actor-director Paul Wegener to make silhouette decorations for the credits and intertitles of THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN (1918) ... Prominent among Reiniger's talents was her transcendence of the inherent flatness and awkwardness of silhouette animation through her dramatic mise en scene and her balletic movements. Her female characters are especially lively and original, displaying wit, sensuousness, and self-awareness rarely found in animated cartoons ... Reiniger shared her professional life with her husband, Carl Koch, who designed her animation studio and, until his death in 1963, served as her producer and camera operator ... Aside from THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED, Reiniger ventured into feature filmmaking only once, in RUNNING AFTER LUCK, the story of a wandering showman, part animation and part live-action, which she co-directed with Rochus Gliese. It was a critical and financial failure ...The rest of her films were shorts, mainly one or two reels in length ... Hans Richter, who knew Reiniger in the early Berlin years, later wrote that she belonged to the avant-garde as far as independent production and courage were concerned,but that the spirit of her work seemed Victorian. Jean Renoir placed her even further back in time, as a visual expression of Mozart's music. It is more likely that, like the fables and myths and fairy tales on which many of her films are based, her work transcends time and fashion.