Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed)

Germany, 1926

Courtesy The BFI National Archive

Film On display
A yellow image with black silhouettes of fantastical creatures and princes demonstrating the early animation style of lotte reiniger
A still from Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed). Courtesy Alamy.

You may not have heard of German animator Lotte Reiniger. She turned her home into a DIY animation studio and pioneered animating silhouettes by shooting homemade puppets frame-by-frame against sheets of lead.

Later she used layers of glass to create depth, devising the first multiplane camera, which she used to create the first colour animated feature film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). While many people believe Walt Disney’s Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (1937) was the first animated feature, Reiniger’s fairytale precedes the Disney film by over a decade. With more than 60 animated films to her name, Lotte Reiniger is a true hero of animation.

Curator Notes

Often hailed as the first full-length animation film in the history of cinema, this is also pioneering animator Lotte Reiniger’s most extraordinary work. Reiniger developed a highly sophisticated silhouette animation technique inspired by Chinese shadow theatre. Intricate hand-cut silhouettes were combined with shimmering backgrounds created with wax and sand set on back lit glass. Colour-tinting further enhanced the luminous effect. Amongst her collaborators were her husband Carl Koch, who acted as her production manager and photographer, and the filmmakers Walter Ruttman (Berlin: Symphony of a City) and Berthold Bartosch (L’idee) who created backgrounds and special effects. The story from the Arabian Nights allows full rein for Reiniger’s elaborate and ingenious work - magical-flying horse, wicked sorcerer, djinns, ogres, monsters and wondrous kingdoms abound. – The ACMI Collections team

A short clip of Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed

How are these works connected?

Explore this constellation

Related articles

Related works

Content notification

Our collection comprises over 40,000 moving image works, acquired and catalogued between the 1940s and early 2000s. As a result, some items may reflect outdated, offensive and possibly harmful views and opinions. ACMI is working to identify and redress such usages.

Learn more about our collection and our collection policy here. If you come across harmful content on our website that you would like to report, let us know.

How to watch

Stream, rent or buy via Just Watch Logo


In ACMI's collection

On display until

16 February 2031

ACMI: Gallery 1



Lotte Reiniger

Production places
Production dates

Collection metadata

ACMI Identifier


Curatorial sections

The Story of the Moving Image → Moving Pictures → MI-01. Light and Shadow → MI-01-AV04

The Story of the Moving Image → Moving Pictures → MI-01. Light and Shadow → MI-01-C02

Object Types

Moving image file/Digital


263493 times

Please note: this archive is an ongoing body of work. Sometimes the credit information (director, year etc) isn’t available so these fields may be left blank; we are progressively filling these in with further research.

Cite this work on Wikipedia

If you would like to cite this item, please use the following template: {{cite web |url=https://acmi.net.au/works/100855--die-abenteuer-des-prinzen-achmed-the-adventures-of-prince-achmed/ |title=Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed) |author=Australian Centre for the Moving Image |access-date=26 May 2024 |publisher=Australian Centre for the Moving Image}}