Lotte Reiniger’s ‘epicurean film’ – as she herself called it – was created in 1944, during the last days of the war in Berlin. During Christmas in 1943, Lotte Reiniger had returned to her ailing mother, whom she did not want to abandon during the chaos of the war. Hunger and the loud din of wartime accompanied Reiniger’s creation of The Golden Goose. In this hopeless situation, she staged a classic Dummling tale based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Because Dummling has a good heart, fate leads him to a princess waiting for rescue. Lotte Reiniger’s ideas about the basic necessities of life were transformed into a film full of sensual delights and joie de vivre in the animation. Bread, wine, pancakes, and other provisions in the cellar – Lotte Reiniger creates an enticing scene reminiscent of the land of milk and honey: a crisp fried chicken with knife and fork sticking out of its back, ready to eat. The story shifts from this idyllic domestic scene and moves on to describe deep forests, villages, an inn, and finally to the town, where happiness awaits… —Christel Strobel, BFI
Among the great figures in animated film, Lotte Reiniger stands alone. No one else has taken a specific animation technique and made it so utterly her own. To date she has no rivals, and for all practical purposes the history of silhouette animation begins and ends with Reiniger. Taking the ancient art of shadow-plays, as perfected above all in China and Indonesia, she adapted it superbly for the cinema.
She was born in Berlin to cultured parents, and from an early age showed an exceptional and, it seems, self-taught ability to cut free-handed paper silhouettes, which she used in her own home-made shadow-theatre. Initially she planned to be an actress, studied with Max Reinhardt, and used her skill at silhouette portraiture to attract the attention of the film director Paul Wegener. He invited her to make silhouettes for the intertitles to his films Rübezahls Hochzeit (Germany, 1916) and Der Rattenfänger von Hameln (Germany, 1918).
Wegener introduced Reiniger… read more