animated movie The Adventures of Prince Achmed © Comenius-Film GmbH

Reviews for The Adventures of Prince Achmed

3 stars / 6 ratings
lupercal's avatar
KF Animation Editor
Reviews: 517

lupercal's Review

rated it:
posted: May 08, 2009
Share this review
Share review on Facebook

No matter what else you think of it, you have to admit this a remarkable movie. Eleven years before the usually cited first first animated feature came this (almost comletely) animated, audacious movie.

There are a few confusing things about it. For example, the original 1926 is supposed to have been hand coloured, but when they remade it there were only black and white copies. The original German prints no longer existed. But unless I'm confused, there were no coloured films in 1926. So it went from colour, to black and white, and then back to colour in 1999? Search me. In any case this current version is a collaboration between English and German sources.

This is where alarm bells started ringing. Although it was much beloved at the time, the mid 80's colourised version of Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' was, IMHO, absolutely ghastly (I could only wach in bw with the sound turned off). The dreadful colourisation was not helped by the fact that it was filled with atrocious early to mid 80's synth-pop which seemed to relate to the movie about as much 'Dirty Harry' fits with Boney M.

Thankfully, in this case, though the 1999 version is a new recording, it's a new recording of the original 1926 soundtrack.

Anyway: plot-wise, the 5 tales are taken from The Arabian Knights, and they fit together and make sense. The lack of spoken dialog doesn't bother me.

The silhouette animation is generally wonderful to behold - very reminscent (preminscent?) of Yuri Norstein films like 'Heron and Crane. And though are one or two unsubtle uses of tinting, the thing looks great. It isn't wholly silhouette animation either; there are quite a few scenes where the backgrounds are watercolour paintings, and they look beautiful. There are also brief snippets where the 'animation' are obviously live actors filmed in silhouette.

The only thing stopping me giving this four is that the sheer antiquity of the thing makes it difficult to watch (though, not, I might say, as difficult as the much later 'Snow White'.

Who knows - I may change my mind give it and give it four stars one day.

lonely_princess's avatar
KF Animation Editor
Reviews: 106

lonely_princess' Review

rated it:
posted: Feb 27, 2007
Share this review
Share review on Facebook

I know this was a historical movie being one of the first but i found it a bit long and boring.

The story was confusing i mean why was aladdin in this film.
It felt like a sort of story time movie like someone was reading me a book and the pictures was moving eg jacknanory.

Inkwolf's avatar
KF Animation Editor
Reviews: 202

Inkwolf's Review

rated it:
posted: Apr 16, 2006
Share this review
Share review on Facebook

Not only a historical landmark, but a beautifully made and artistic film. It uses animated silhouette shadow puppets to tell a story adapted form elements of The Arabian Nights.

The puppets are beautifully made and detailes, with what must be thousands of moving parts. It's hard to imagine the amount of detail until you actually see it on the screen. As for the story, to tell the truth it was intersting enough at the start, but eventually it began to drag on.

Still, it was an amazing technical achievement for its time, and is still amazing and exciting to look at.

Howler's avatar
Fledgling Reviewer
Reviews: 5

Howler's Review

rated it:
posted: Feb 11, 2006
Share this review
Share review on Facebook

Definitely worth seeing if you are interested in animation from a technical and historical stand point. This film was the first full-length animated feature; it came out way back in 1926.
The animation, old as it is, really is beautiful. By using cut-out pieces of card board against a lit background the animators were able to achieve an amazing amount of detail to some of the characters; Princess Dinarsade comes to mind particularly with all those veils she wears.
However, because they are silhouettes and there are no voices it is a little hard to feel any great deal of emotion from the characters. So, I’m not sure I’d say that time has left this film untouched; or, in any case, I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends who aren’t real animation buffs.
Still, I can’t really criticize a film made some 80 or-so years ago for not being modern.
All in all, it’s enjoyable and one of the more entertaining ways to receive a lesson in animation history.

Neil's avatar
KF Web Animation Editor
Reviews: 33

Neil's Review

rated it:
posted: Nov 03, 2005
Share this review
Share review on Facebook

Ah, lovely lovely film. The story is a concoction of Arabian Nights tales: after an encounter with an evil sorcerer, Prince Achmed ends up in the land of spirits, where he falls in love with the princess Peri-Banu and elopes with her. There follows a string of set pieces as the prince and princess head for Baghdad, meeting enemies and friends - amongst them Aladdin - along the way.
It's a simple story, but one that throws in enough little twists to keep your interest.

It may be black and white, but Prince Achmed's animation is worlds away from the likes of Steamboat Willy, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Instead of lifting from contemporary American animation, Prince Achmed is heavily influenced by shadow puppetry.

It may be a trifle clichéd to say that an old film is "still as fresh today as when it was made", but in the case of Prince Achmed it's definitely the case. Viewing it, it's easy to forget that you're watching an eighty year old film; it could just as easily be a modern indie production; only the dialogue captions date it. That's just how unique it is, even today.

starlioness's avatar
Mad Scribbler
Reviews: 10

starlioness' Review

rated it:
posted: Aug 11, 2004
Share this review
Share review on Facebook

a wonderful film. shame they don't make these anymore. the silhouttes are endearinng as are the Characters. though I really didn't see how Aladdin's lamp fit in all this.. they could have used some other legend. but oh well, a refreashing break from Disney . nice bonus features too. though the making of documentary is a bit long.