20 Cinderella – Lotte Reiniger

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SUMMARY: The story of Cinderella presented by shadow puppets.

WHY IT’S HERE: German silhouettte animator Lotte Reiniger is best known for the brilliant ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’, the oldest surviving animated feature film in existence. But she is also well known for the fairy tale films she made in the 50s. While those films are charming enough, they pale in comparison to one of Reiniger’s earliest fairy tale films, ‘Cinderella’, in which Reiniger presents us with a faithful but stylistically daring take on the story. Unlike the fairly pedestrian version of the tale she made in the 50s, Reiniger’s 20s ‘Cinderella’ is completely silent and is marked out by the presence of a large pair of scissors. The scissors cut out the lead character and then place her in the story, essentially making the animator as much part of the story as her characters. Both Reiniger’s presence and technique are prominent, with many of the scenes taking place inside snipped-out jagged windows. The intertitles also regularly feature the word ‘Snip’ before each line, persistently reminding us of Reiniger slaving away over her creations.

Aside from its stylistic triumphs, Reiniger’s film is well told with brilliantly expressive characters who transcend their 2D blackness to become the heroes and grotesques we all recognise from fairy tales. Reiniger continues to be the most recognisable and admired name in silhouette animation, influencing such latter day animators as Michel Ocelot and Andrey Shushkov.

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