The Adventures of Prince Achmed

With New Live Score By Chris Davies

One of the world’s most innovative and influential animations 

Three years in the making. Made in card. Cut entirely by hand

Is presented with a new live score

Composed and performed by Chris Davies 

Full of all the thrilling

adventure,

magic

and romance

that you’d expect

of a classic fairytale.

 


Chris Davies reinvigorates the film with his skilful composition and live performance using a spectacular array of instruments from around the world to accompany Prince Achmed’s journey from the Middle East, to Africa, China and beyond.



The new live score was commissioned specially for Bradford Animation Festival’s celebration event in November 2014.

“Lotte Reiniger's brilliant Adventures of Prince Achmed is a true animation gem. Historically it is an important work in the animation canon -- and within the global film community. Moreover, when coupled with musician Chris Davies's new score, Reiniger's work leaps anachronistically to present day and back again. It's as if you're watching the film as it should be viewed: In the 1920s. His accompaniment is a work of art in itself. I recommend it wholeheartedly.” Mark Shapiro, Studio Laika

“The visuals were fantastic – the cutout and animations – and the music, just stunning – so well matched to the content of the story and characters.”

“That was a real highlight of everything I’ve seen this year. Congratulations to the fabulous musician and to all who made it possible for us to see,  I was completely mesmerised from beginning to end – in fact I didn’t want it to end!”


 

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Prinzen Achmed) is an animated fairytale film based on tales from The Arabian Nights.

First shown in 1926 in Germany by Lotte Reiniger. It is the oldest surviving animated feature film  and still stands as one of the great classics of animation — witty, lively, delicate, inventive, stirring and romantic.

 

“A joy to behold. Beautiful and innovative - age only adds to its brilliance and charm.” Empire

 

 

Neither the original negative nor a complete copy of the German original has survived, the reconstruction used is based on a nitrate copy with English intertitles from the BFI National Archive.

This material was used to make a new copy and the German intertitles were reinserted from the surviving censor card.

The film features a silhouette animation technique Reiniger had invented which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera.

The technique she used for the camera is similar to Wayang shadow puppets, though hers was animated frame-by-frame, not manipulated in live action. The original prints featured colour tinting.

Several famous avant-garde animators worked on this film with Lotte Reiniger, among them Walter Ruttmann, Berthold Bartosch and Carl Koch.

 


Lotte Reiniger's introduction to the film:

“For centuries Prince Achmed and his magic horse had lived a comfortable life as a well-loved fairy tale figure of the Arabian nights and was well contented with that but one day he was thrown out of his peaceful existence by a film company which wanted to employ him and many other characters of the same stories for an animated film.”

 “At this time animation was still walking in its infant shoes: there was no Mickey Mouse yet. We had to experiment and try out all sorts of inventions to make the story come alive. The more the shooting of Prince Achmed advanced the more ambitious he became. But he was lucky.”



The morning after its 'unofficial' premiere in Berlin, the press was full of praise for the film. However distributors still shunned the film because of its difficult format (ie. animation). The first public performance was held in Paris later that year at a theatre being run by Louis Jouvet. Jean Renoir, Rene Clair and all the French avante-garde turned out to distribute the programme notes on the first night.

The film ran for three months and was then transferred to another theatre, where it ran for six months. It was shown in almost every country in the world with great success, except Germany. 

It was only after legal action had been taken that Lotte Reiniger regained the rights to her own film and showed it in the original version in her own country.


 Lotte Reiniger

 “She was born with magic hands.” — Jean Renoir

 

 Lotte Reiniger was born in Berlin-Charlottenburg, German Empire, on June 2, 1899.

As a child, she was fascinated with the Chinese art of silhouette puppetry, even building her own puppet theatre so she could put on shows for her family and friends.

She described her childhood as 'extraordinarily' happy, her artistic interests celebrated and encouraged by both her parents. Theatre captured her imagination early on, but after her first film, she was hooked; she had in the meantime discovered her 'unsettling gift' for making silhouettes. In 1921, Reiniger married Carl Koch, who served as her producer and camera operator for the next 40 years.

Lotte Reiniger loved kids. She has rewarded her youthful audience with challenging interpretations of classic fairy tales, new stories and some operatic motifs – all of which played successfully in cinemas and on television in the early years, before ratings and commercial demands made children’s TV a branch of the toy industry. Lotte also performed with live shadow-puppet performances in England, and wrote a definitive book about Silhouettes. Lotte Reiniger herself is the prime genius behind all of her films.

She had an astonishing facility with cutting.

 

Chris Davies

“After the first viewing I was completely enchanted and excited by the opportunity to work with this wonderful film; running at sixty-five minutes I knew it was a mammoth undertaking but couldn’t wait to get started."

 "The film is silent so unrestricted by language, I watched it a few times with the original orchestration, then again, this time with the sound off and ideas started to come.

First rooting it sound-wise where the story takes place, beginning in the Middle East, what sounds, instruments, rhythms take you to the Caliph’s palace?

Then there’s an African sorcerer, a spirit island, a journey to China, a fire-witch in a fire-mountain…

Then Aladdin appears…just incredible.

The more I watched, the more I became absorbed in creating the sound worlds of the journey, and falling more in love with the beauty of the animation.”

Instruments used in this production:

Classical guitar, oud, darbuka, gong rack, bass drum, djembe, tin whistle, bowed psaltery, xylophones, thumb piano, zither, crystal singing bowl, bamboo flute, soprano saxophone, rattles, shakers and bells, voice, sequencing and computer programming.

In a career spanning thirty years Chris has been touring nationally and internationally as musician, performer, Musical Director and Tour Manager with a number of acclaimed companies including:

Inner Sense Percussion, Manchester.  A seminal street band, one of the first to bring the carnival music of Brazil to the feet and hearts of the people in the UK. Chris was a founder member of this brilliant band which started life on the streets of Manchester and went on to tour the world, performing and sharing its love of music in Europe, Morocco, Tunisia, Gaza and the West Bank, Singapore and Uzbekistan, all enabled through the support of the British Council.

After touring with bands for eleven years, Chris was drawn towards visual theatre where he felt that his strengths, and what interested him as a musician, lay in creating atmosphere with sound. Using an orchestra of percussion instruments from around the world, but principally from Africa, Brazil and India, along with guitar, oud, bamboo and metal flutes, saxophone, keyboards, xylophones, voice, sampling and digital technology, he began to explore the worlds of theatre and dance.

He has recently composed and performed live music for ‘Spring Reign’ a powerful play about the effects of war on a family in Aleppo, Syria. As well as incidental music throughout, his main work was to animate four folktales and underscore monologues given by the four main characters. The production was two years in the making, premiered at Theatre in the Mill, Bradford and The Lowry, Salford, Greater Manchester.

For twenty years Chris has been involved with the unique mask and puppetry company, Horse and Bamboo. He’s one of their resident Musical Directors and has been involved in productions: ‘The Legend of the Creaking Floorboard’, ‘The Girl Who Cut Flowers’, ‘Storm in a Teacup’, ‘Botany begins at Home’, ‘Early one Morning’, ‘The Nightingale’, ‘The Horse’s Tail’, the award-winning ‘In the Shadow of Trees’ and four immersive, multi-sensory guided imagery projects for children with special needs.

“Chris will feel his way into a situation, relax a group or audience when it’s necessary and then create memorable and always appropriate music.”

Bob Frith – founder of Horse and Bamboo Theatre

Workshops

The handmade qualities of The Adventures of Prince Achmed allow us an insight into the artistry and craft of the film maker. 

The techniques used by Lotte Reiniger are influenced by the ancient traditions of Shadow puppetry yet the scope of her vision for the production demanded that new and cutting-edge animation techniques were developed to deliver her storytelling ideas.

As an accompaniment to the screenings we offer a range of workshops and resources which aim to give a better understanding of the film and the techniques used in its creation.

All workshops designed to accompany and compliment the screening of The Adventures of Prince Achmed.

Shadow puppet workshop

1 hour workshop

Families

Make your own silhouette puppet and use a shadow puppet theatre to bring them to life alongside characters from the film.

Film your shadow show set to music and share with your friends!

 

The life and work of Lotte Reiniger 

20-minute pre/post show talk 

Adults/families

Find out more the life and work of this amazing animator and why she is so important to the world of animation. Includes footage of Lotte at work.

 

Explore the Score

20-minute pre/post show talk with Chris Davies.

Adults/families.

Chris takes you on a grand tour of the Instruments featured in the live score and talks about creating music for film and theatre.

 

Tailor made workshops are also available which use the The Adventures of Prince Achmed as a spring board for a range of fun workshops ranging across art forms and the curriculum.

Contact directly to discuss how we could combine- 

Stop-motion animation

Shadow puppetry

Music for film

Dance

Storytelling and writing

Visual Arts

These bespoke workshops are a great way for schools and community groups to engage with the performance and venue in a creative way and act as a perfect lead in to the event.

Contact us for more information on the workshops or to download our printable education resource pack. 


Booking info

The Adventures of Prince Achmed

DIE ABENTEUER DES PRINZEN ACHMED

Lotte Reiniger, Germany, 1926, 66 mins, PG

accompanied by a newly composed original score performed live by Chris Davies 

BFI title, distributed by Reel Solutions

 

Contact jen@reelsolutions.co.uk

  Visit Reel Solutions website