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lupercal's Review of The Adventures of Prince Achmed

rated it: posted: May 08, 2009
Reviews: 517 | KF Animation Editor
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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.

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