Archive for the ‘lotte reiniger’ Category

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

REFPACK017: Download Two Beautiful Films By Lotte Reiniger

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July-August 2016

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Lotte Reiniger

Two Paper Puppet films by Lotte Reiniger
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“Helen La Belle” (1957) “A Night In A Harem” (1958)

In 1956, Lotte Reiniger partnered with a British company called Fantasia Productions to create animated paper puppet films in color. She only ended up making two films under this agreement, “Helen La Belle” and “A Night In A Harem”. The films were thought to only survive in fragmentary form until the British Film Institute combined two prints of each to create complete films.

“La Belle Helene” Synopsis: Paris, the son of King Priamos receives an apple intended for the fairest Goddess of all. Three Goddesses vie for the honor- Juno, Minerva and Venus. Each promises Paris a gift in return for being chosen, but Paris chooses Venus. Mercury takes Paris to meet Helena, wife of King Menelaos. Paris and Helena fall in love. The Gods conspire to kidnap King Menelaos so the couple can be alone.

“A Night In A Harem” Synopsis: Newlyweds traveling by hot air ballon are stranded when their balloon crash lands in the desert. Arab soldiers tie the groom to a palm tree and abduct his bride. She is taken to the Sultan, who locks her in his harem. The groom befriends a lion who leads him to the Sultan’s court. He attempts to rescue her, but is captured himself. At the last minute, the couple escapes when the balloon miraculously reappears.

These two films are unique because they are not silhouette films. The joints in the puppets are clearly visible. This reveals aspects of Reiniger’s technique that aren’t visible in her silhouette films.

REFPACK017: Two Films By Reiniger
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Lotte Reiniger
Lotte Reiniger
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Lotte Reiniger
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Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Animation: Reiniger’s Prince Achmed

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
If you ask the average person what the first feature-length animated film was, just about everyone will answer Walt Disney’s “Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs”. But Disney’s film wasn’t the first animated feature by a longshot. Arguably, that honor belongs to Lotte Reiniger’s “Adventures of Prince Achmed”.

Lotte Reiniger
In 1923, Reiniger and her husband and business partner, Carl Koch began work on an ambitious project… a feature length silhouette puppet film based on “The One Thousand and One Nights”. She worked with animator Bertold Bartosch and background artist Walter Ruttman for three years on the film. The paper cutouts were jointed using wires and delicately arranged on top of a lightbox, where it was photographed frame by frame. Reiniger continued to animate her distinctive silhouette films up into the mid-1970s. She passed away in 1981.

Reiniger animates Adventures of Prince Achmed
Animation Resources volunteer, Eric Graf was perusing a local library book sale when he spotted an amazing find… a portfolio of prints from Reiniger’s landmark film. Published in Berlin in the year the film was released (1926), this group of images shows just how beautiful Reiniger’s work was… and how unique. Eric picked up the book for the collection and brought it by today. Thanks, Eric!

Our reader, Michael generously translated the synopsis for us…

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
Once upon a time there was a wizard who could control all the powers and elements of the world. One day, he made a mighty flying steed out of pure will and thought. Then he took it to the caliph’s palace and asked him to let him marry his daughter in exchange for the horse. The girl refused (she thought he was ugly), so the plan was dismissed, but her brother, Achmed, got angry and insulted the wizard. So the latter set up a trap for him: He offered him to have a ride on the horse to see how fast and strong it was. But as soon as he was in the saddle, the horse flew up into the sky and far away. Achmed managed at last to make it land on an island. There he found many beautiful women asking him to be their lover, but he denied as he wanted to find their queen, who – as he had heard – was a woman of exceptional beauty.

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
Achmed flew over the island on the magic horse and saw a lake shimmering in the night. While he was waiting there, a bird with beautiful feathers landed nearby and changed shape before his eyes: It transformed into Paribanu, the queen of the island, and she wanted to bathe there; around her were many gentle women. Achmed asked her to stay with him, but she was frightened and tried to flee; he, however, held on to her feathers and followed her through the thicket like the hunter follows the deer. He asked her to flee no longer and sat her onto the horse with him. Then they flew over numberless countries, until at last they found a lonely valley, where Achmed made a bed for her under a tree.

But in the meantime, the wizard was not idle, searching for his horse with magic webs, in which he caught the picture of the faraway valley. Then he transformed into a kangaroo, that strange jumping animal of the desert, and in the next moment he was with Achmed and Paribandu. He lured Achmed into a deep canyon, in which a horrible snake lived. While Achmed was fighting that snake, trying to save his life, the wizard kidnapped the girl and escaped with the flying horse.

In China he wanted to sell her as a slave. A very powerful emperor lived there; he had a hump-backed jester, who amused him with his pranks and his chimes. The emperor liked Paribandu and gave many sacks of treasures to the wizards for her. Big was the emperor, and fat. Beautiful he was not. When he approached Paribandu and wanted to make her his lover, she pushed him away, crying: “No, you monster!” That made the emperor angry, so he called his jester and told him: “Do with her what you want! You can kill her, but you may also take her as your wife if you want!” “Ah, marriage! We make marriage!” the hump-backed one called out and danced with joy.

Meanwhile, the wizard was flying back to the island on birds that he had made out of the sacks of gold from the emperor. On the island, Achmed was mourning the loss of his lover, but the wizard gave Achmed to those birds: They tore him away like vultures tear a corpse away. When they found a wasteland where the earth was gaping and spewing out horror, they layed him down shackled under a big rock.

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
A flaming abyss opened next to Prince Achmed. A hideous woman rose out of it and stepped towards him. Was she going to kill him? He walked up to her and told her who had brought him there, and that the great wizard’s animals had kidnapped him. When she heard that, she shouted: “He is my enemy, let us fight him together!” She called the monsters that served her, for she was very powerful, as powerful as the wizard. She ordered them to dive into the core of the earth and fetch weapons with which they could fight the wizard. Now she was friendly to Achmed, took him by the hand and freed him. Look how they soared through magic might, walking through the air with ease, as if they were walking on level ground. The prince shouted: “O look, down there is Paribanu, dressed for a celebration. Oh, she is going to be married with that hunch-backed jester! Let’s go down there quickly and save her!”

Down they swooped like birds of prey, grabbing that noble girl. How they lay in each other’s arms, Paribanu and Achmed!
But listen! The beating of wings, what does it mean? New dangers! Hosts of black creatures, horrible animals with flapping wings! “O Paribanu!” “These are the spirits of Wak-Wak, my home country. They will not tolerate my staying away from home, they will take me with them! O, the horror!” So the demons took to the air with their prey, and again Prince Achmed stood there alone, separated from his lover. He was furious, and in his anger he forced one of the birds to serve him. Racing after Paribanu, he saw the magic island from far away. The gate of Wak-Wak, and next to it endlessly high mountains. He flew into the gate, and through it.

Then, suddenly, the gates closed, and a voice told the Prince that he was not allowed to enter. “Have you heard of Aladin and his lamp,” the voice said,
“only that lamp can be your salvation!” Achmed stopped short, trying to recall what he knw about that name: Aladdin! Aladdin!

What monster is this? Many-armed, abominable! Big as a mountain! And look, there is a man in its claws! The prince took his magic weapons to kill it. He shot arrow after arrow, until it dropped dead. He asked the man who he was. It was Aladin, the man he was looking for! He told Achmed his story: “I used to live a quiet life in the caliph’s city. While I was working in my workshop one day, a stranger of noble appearance came in and asked me to follow him to a place where immense treasures could be found. He lead me to a cave and bade me descend to the depths of the earth. There, between shiny stones, I found the marvelous lamp. “Give it to me, scoundrel!” the stranger shouted; he was waiting at the cave’s entrance. When I refused, he left me behind in darkness and desparation. But I, lighting the lamp, became the master of its spirits. They helped me escape. They served me and did whatever I ordered them to do. I gave them the order to build a palace, more beautiful than any palace I had seen before. And before the sun set, they had accomplished that feat. I went to the caliph’s daughter and led her home with me as my wife. But in the evening, everything had disappeared – she, the lover, as well as the incredible palace and, with it, the lamp.

The stranger had done that, but who was he? The great wizard!

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
“So I got up and fled the caliph’s wrath. Travelling over the sea in a tiny boat, i got into a storm. I was whirled around, I was almost smashed against rocks, then I was thrown on the coast. I saw a tree with fruit that could help me recover. But as I reached out for it, the tree rose to the height of a mountain and threw off branches and leaves: It was a monster! That was when you found me, Prince Achmed, and when you saved me!”

When Aladdin had finished his story, the witch appeared and told them that Paribanu was in danger. She said that the spirits of Wak-Wak were revolting against her and only Aladin’s lamp could save her. “So you must fight the wizard!” both Aladdin and Achmed begged her, “wrench the lamp from his hands and kill him, the villain!” Already the witch got up and wove magic circles in order to catch the wizard. Not before long he was with them, angry and raging.

Now began a fight like the earth has never seen one, never before and never after it. In a lion’s shape, the wizard jumped at the witch in order to pin her on the ground, but she turned into a snake. He, however, took the shape of a poisonous scorpion, which she countered by changing into a rooster. Many shapes they turned into, but neither of them was stronger than the other. Until at last, the witch tore the fire down from the skies, engulfing the wizard in flames. He, too, had power over the flames, and threw many a fire towards her, but finally, finally he got weak and burned. The villainous enemy was destroyed! Now the lamp belonged to them.

Victory, victory! Now they had to hurry to Paribanu’s rescue. Numberless were the demons that attacked them. But numberless were also the good spirits that came streaming out of Aladdin’s lamp to fight them. And so the black power of the demons was broken forever that day, they fled desperately to the recesses of the earth. They were free now, all of them: Paribanu and Achmed, Dinarsade and Aladdin!

Once more they summoned the lamp’s spirits and bade them carry them to the palace they had built in one night and that the wizard had whisked away from the ground. Happily the spirits obliged. Look what made them so glad, while it was flying through the air, light as a cloud, but still artfully created, with numberless galleries and stairs and proud towers. In front of them the house landed like an animal that was meant to carry their burden. They entered the palace, and it flew up again to bring them back to the caliph’s city. There, they were greeted with measureless joy. How long they had been away, and what adventures their eyes had seen!

But the caliph embraced them all as his children, Paribanu the beautiful, who was now the wife of Achmed, the noble son, and Aladdin, his lovely daughter Dinarsade’s husband. The caliph lifted his hands and blessed them all.

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
1. Achmed on the magic horse

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
2. At the caliph’s court

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
3. The magic horse takes Achmed into the air with it…

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
4. …so the wizard is taken prisoner

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
5. Achmed with Paribanu’s servants

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
6. Paribanu flying to the forest lake in her feathery costume

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
7. Her nightly bath

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
8. Achmed following Paribanu

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
9. The lovers in the mountains

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
10. Achmed and Paribanu

Re<br />
iniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
11. Achmed fighting with the snake in the canyon

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
12. The emperor of China’s jester playing the chimes

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
13. Paribanu is sold to the emperor

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
14. The emperor pressing Paribanu

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
15. The wizard turns the sacks of gold into birds

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
16. The hunchback plays the flute for Paribanu

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
17. Achmed with the witch

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
18. Paribanu in her wedding attire

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
19. The wedding procession

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
20. Achmed shooting the monster

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
21. The monster threatening Aladdin

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
22. Aladdin tells Achmed his story

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
23. The wizard calls on Aladdin in his workshop

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
24. The wizard leads Aladdin past the caliph’s palace

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
25. Dinarsade, the caliph’s daughter, playing chess

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
26. Aladdin discovers the magic lamp in the cave

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
27. Aladdin greets Dinarsade

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
28. Aladdin at sea in the storm

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
29. The battle between the witch and the wizard

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
30. The wizard and the witch fighting in the shape of a vulture and a rooster

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
31. Aladdin fights the demons of Wak-Wak with his magic lamp

Reiniger Adventures of Prince Achmed
32. The homecoming

Achmed DVDAchmed DVD

This important film is available at Amazon… The Adventures of Prince Achmed

Stephen Worth
Animation Resources

Animated CartoonsAnimated Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Animation.

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Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Biography: Lotte Reiniger

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Birth: 2 June 1899 Berlin


Animator, Film Director, Writer, Filmmaker.

Bio Summary

Lotte Reinger spent much of her life creating unique and often amazing silhouette animation. Between 1923 and 1926, Rieniger and Koch, with assistance from animators Walter Rutmann, Bertolt Bartosch, and Alex Kardan, created The Adventures of Prince Achmed. One of the world’s first feature-length animated films, The Adventures of Prince Achmed displayed Reiniger’s ability to create captivating characters through intricate design and an amazingly graceful sense of movement. The film remains unsurpassed as a demonstration of animated art.

Early Life/Family

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 theater so she could put on shows for her family and friends.The only daughter of a banker and a homemaker, Reiniger set great stock by her birth in the last year of the nineteenth century. Except for the fact that she worked in film, her techniques and sensibilities reflected the earlier century more than her own. She described her childhood as “extraordinarily” happy, her artistic interests celebrated and encouraged by both her parents. Theater 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.


1916–17—attended Max Reinhardt theater school, Berlin. After a short period of at Max Rienhardt’s studio, Reiniger began working on intertitle design for Paul Wegener’s films at the age of sixteen. Her titles were made of hand-cut silhouettes, and in 1919 she developed this technique to create a complete animated silhouette film.

Career Outline

Although she worked with some of the pioneers of German experimental abstract film, her work was strongly narrative, taking its stories from fairy tales, opera, and A Thousand and One Nights. Her films are characterised by a mannered style that combines subtle acting with a rather frozen bloodless quality, and realism with elements of cartoon. The look developed out of a childhood enthusiasm for shadow puppets, and is usually designed in shades of grey and black on a white background. Her feature film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Germany, 1926), made between 1923 and 1926, was a huge popular and critical success.

Comments On Style

Lotte Reiniger developed a distinctive method of animating with cut-out paper silhouettes. She was also a pioneer of the multiplane, where layers of glass under the camera allow the animator to add depth and complexity to two-dimensional animation.Prominent among Reiniger’s talents was her transcendence of the inherent flatness and awkwardness of silhouette animation through her dramatic mise en scène and her balletic movements. Her female characters are especially lively and original, displaying wit, sensuousness, and self-awareness rarely found in animated cartoons.



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.


If you ask the average person what the first feature-length animated film was, just about everyone will answer Walt Disney’s “Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs”. But Disney’s film wasn’t the first animated feature by a longshot. Arguably, that honor belongs to Lotte Reiniger’s “Adventures of Prince Achmed”


Interview quotes:
Reiniger: “I love working for children, because they are a very critical and very thankful public.”
Reiniger: “I believe in the truth of fairy-tales more than I believe in the truth in the newspaper.”
“Film is movement,” she noted, often comparing filmmaking to ballet. “It’s the combination of curves and diagonals that gives ballet and animation their sweet tenderness and their striking directness.”
She rather modestly noted that, “even with primitive materials, one can work small wonders.”
” Paul Wegener saw me cutting silhouettes behind the stage in Reinhardts’s theater, and he became interested. He liked my silhouettes; he thought they showed a rare sense of movement. He therefore introduced me to a group of young artists who had started a new trick (animation) film studio. Here, I first began to photograph my silhouette figures, just as drawings are photographed for the cartoon film, and I was successful in making a film with my shadow figures.
This was in 1919, and the work was so interesting that from that time I have rarely done anything else. In the meantime I married one of the artists and we started working together as we have continued to do till the present time. That is my story.”


Rübezahls Hochzeit (Rumpelstilskin’s Wedding). Live-action feature directed by Paul Wegener. LR does silhouette cut-outs for the dialogue-titles.

Die schöne Prinzessin von China (The Beautiful Chinese Princess). Live-action silhouette film, actors only seen as shadows on screen, directed by Rochus Gliese. LR does costumes, sets, special effects, etc.

Apokalypse (Apocalypse). Live-action short directed by Rochus Gliese. LR’s silhouettes depict the horrors of war.

Der Rattenfänger von Hameln (The Pied Piper of Hamelin). Live-action feature directed by Paul Wegener. LR made silhouettes for dialogue titles, and animated model rats.

Das Ornament des verliebten Herzens (The Ornament of the Heart in Love). First animated silhouette short by Reiniger.

Der verlorene Schatten (The Lost Shadow). Live-action feature directed by Rochus Gliese. LR animated a sequence in which the musician has no shadow, but the shadow of his violin is seen moving on the wall as he plays his instrument.

Amor und das standhafte Liebespaar (Cupid and the steadfast lovers). Silhouette animation short with one live actor who interacts with the cutouts.

Several advertising films for Julius Pinschewer agency, including: Das Geheimnis der Marquise (The Marquise’s Secret) for Nivea skin cream and Die Barcarole (The Barcarole) for Pralinés Mauxion dessert. Also a commercial for ink.

Der fliegende Koffer (The Flying Trunk), based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale.

Der Stern von Bethlehem (The Star of Bethlehem).

Aschenputtel (Cinderella), from the Brothers Grimm.

Dornröschen (Sleeping Beauty), advertising film.

Lotte Reiniger makes a complex silhouette figure of a falcon for a dream sequence in Fritz Lang’s feature Die Niebelungen. Walter Ruttmann (who is working on Reiniger’s Prince Achmed at the time) completes the dream with various painted images, and it becomes known as Ruttmann’s sequence.

Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed), 90-minute silhouette feature, from episodes in The Arabian Nights. Completed film submitted to censorship board January 15, 1926, press screening May 2, 1926, Paris premiere July 1926, Berlin first run September 1926. Original musical score by Wolfgang Zeller.

Der scheintote Chinese (The Seemingly-Dead Chinaman). Originally a 13-minute episode in Prince Achmed, cut by the German censor, as well as French and German distributors in the interest of keeping the film within the attention span of children. Released as a short in 1928.

Heut’ tanzt Mariette (Today Marietta Dances). Live-action feature directed by Friedrich Zelnik. Silhouette effects by LR.

Doktor Dolittle und seine Tiere (Dr. Dolittle and His Animals), 65-minute feature after Hugh Loftings novel. At the Berlin premiere, December 15, 1928, Paul Dessau conducted a score with music by Kurt Weill, Paul Hindemith and himself.

Die Jagd nach dem Glück (The Pursuit of Happiness), live-action feature co-directed by Rochus Gliese and Lotte Reiniger. Tale of people who run a shadow-puppet theater in a carnival. Includes a 20-minute silhouette animation by Reiniger to represent one of the theater performances. Stars Jean Renoir, Catherine Hessling and Bertold Bartosch. Premiere (with voices added by other actors): May 1930.

Zehn Minuten Mozart (10 Minutes of Mozart).

Harlekin (Harlequin), 24 minutes, to baroque music.

Sissi, 10 minute silhouette animation prepared to be shown during a scene change of the Fritz Kreisler operetta Sissi.

Don Quixote. Live-action feature directed by G.W. Pabst. LR animated silhouettes for opening sequence in which Don Quixote reads a book about knights’ adventures.

Carmen, based on the Bizet opera.

Das rollende Rad (The Rolling Wheel). Traces society through the changing role of wheels from antiquity to the present.

Der Graf von Carabas (Puss-in-Boots), from the Brothers Grimm.

Das gestohlene Herz (The Stolen Heart), from a fable by Ernst Keienburg.

Der Kleine Schornsteinfeger (The Little Chimneysweep), from a tale by Eric Walter White

Galathea, from the classic fable.


Galathea, 1935
Courtesy of William Mortiz

Papageno, scenes from Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute.

The King’s Breakfast, from the poem by A.A.Milne.

The Tocher (Scottish dialect for “The Dowry”), advertising film for the General Post Office.

La Marseillaise Live-action feature directed by Jean Renoir. LR prepared a sequence of a shadow-puppet theatre performance depicting the need for the French Revolution.

Dream Circus, after Stravinsky’s Pulcinella (unfinished by the beginning of the war).

L’Elisir D’Amore, after Donizetti’s opera.

Die goldene Gans (The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs), after the Brothers Grimm. (Unfinished.)

Greetings Telegram. Ad for General Post Office.

Post Early for Christmas, ad for G.P.O.

Radio License, ad for G.P.O.

Several advertising films for Crown Film Unit in London, including Wool Ballet.

Mary’s Birthday Black silhouettes over colored backgrounds.


The Magic Horse, from Arabian Nights. (Much of the footage from this film and Aladdin seem to have been culled from Prince Achmed.)

Snow White and Rose Red, from the Brothers Grimm.

The Three Wishes, from the Brothers Grimm.

The Grasshopper and the Ant, from LaFontaine’s fable.

The Gallant Little Tailor, from the Brothers Grimm.

The Sleeping Beauty, from the Brothers Grimm.

The Frog Prince, from the Brothers Grimms.

Caliph Stork, from the fairy tale by Wilhelm Hauff.

Cinderella, from the Brothers Grimms.

Hansel and Gretel, from the Brothers Grimms.

Thumbelina, from Hans Christian Andersen.

Jack and the Beanstalk, from the Brothers Grimm. Color backgrounds.

The Star of Bethlehem. Color backgrounds.

Helen La Belle, after Offenbach’s operetta, La Belle Hélène. Color figures and backgrounds.

The Seraglio, after Mozart’s opera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Color figures and backgrounds.

The Pied Piper of Hamelim. Made for the Christmas Pantomime at the Coventry Theatre, where it played between acts. Figures and backgrounds in color.

The Frog Prince, for Coventry Theatre Christmas Pantomime. Figures and backgrounds in color.

Wee Sandy Intermission piece for Glasgow Theatre production.

Cinderella Made for the Coventry Theatre Christmas Pantomime. Figures and backgrounds in color.

Aucassin and Nicolette, after the medieval cantefable. Produced at the National Film Board of Canada, with black figures and color backgrounds.

The Rose and the Ring, after W.M. Thackery’s tale. In color.


Silver Dolphin, Venice Biennale, for Gallant Little Tailor, 1955; Filmband in Gold, West Germany, for service to German cinema, 1972; Verdienst Kreuz, West Germany, 1978.

Related Links

Bibliographic References


Contributors To This Listing

Karina Gazizova

To make additions or corrections to this listing, please click on COMMENTS below…

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