Lights! Camera! Google! Lotte Reiniger was a film director and pioneer of silhouette animation, releasing the first ever full-length animated film in 1926. On June 2, she became the latest genius honored with a Google Doodle, so here are 5 things about Lotte.
Step aside, Walt Disney. A decade before his Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs debuted, Lotte Reiniger was already trailblazing the field of animation. The German genius was given a Google Doodle for her 117th birthday, so get to know more about this incredible director!
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1. She initially wanted to be an actress.
Lotte almost had a career in front of the camera, according to The Guardian, as she studied with director Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater Berlin. However, her true calling was as an artist, and by the end of her career, this animation pioneer had made 60 movies. “I could cut out silhouettes almost as soon as I could manage to hold a pair of scissors,” Lotte wrote, according to Vox.
2. Lotte created the first feature-length animated film.
While Disney’s 1937 Snow White was the first full-length cel-animated feature film, the film came out more than 10 years after Lotte’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Titled Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (she was German, after all) the story featured Lotte’s silhouette animation technique. The film has been described as a “brilliant feature,” featuring “charming comedy, lyrical romance” and “truly sinister, frightening evil,” according to Animated World Network.
3. She made movies while on the run from Hitler.
After Prince Achmed, Lotte made her second animated feature, Doctor Dolittle and his Animals, in 1928. However, her film career was slightly interrupted with the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, per the Telegraph. She and her husband, Carl Koch, spent 1933-1944 moving from country to country, managing to release 12 films during this period. Amazing!
4. Her influence is felt today.
Lotte’s style made a cameo in “The Tale of the Three Brothers” during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. “The producers came along with the suggestion of creating something in the vein of Lotte Reiniger,” animation supervisor Dale Newton said to Animation School Daily, “What we got out of that was a certain simplicity and naivety. We knew it had to be told very graphically with bold silhouettes.”
5. She worked up until her death in 1981.
Lotte took a decade-long creative break after the death of her beloved husband in 1963. She produced two films, Aucassin and Nicolette in 1975 and The Rose and the Ringin in 1979. She passed away at the age of 82 in her home in Dettenhausen, Germany, on June 19, 1981. “No one else has taken a specific animation technique and made it so utterly her own,” Philip Kemp of the British Film Institute said, per BFI.
Happy Birthday, Lotte! HollywoodLifers, are you going to go watch her films?