Lotte Reiniger made over sixty films, of which eleven are considered lost and fifty to have survived. Of the surviving films for which she had full artistic responsibility, eleven were created in the silent period if the three-part Doktor Dolittle (1927-1928) is considered a single film. Reiniger is known to have worked on—or contributed silhouette sequences to—at least another seven films in the silent era, and a further nine in the sound era. Additionally, there is evidence of her involvement in a number of film projects that remained at conceptual or pre-production stages.
Lotte Reiniger with paper figure. Private Collection.
Reiniger is best known for her pioneering silhouette films, in which paper and cardboard cut-out figures, weighted with lead, and hinged at the joints—the more complex the characters’ narrative role, the larger their range of movements, and therefore, the more hinges for the body—were hand-manipulated from frame to frame and shot via stop motion photography. The figures were placed on an animation table and usually lit from below. In some of her later sound films the figures were lit both from above and below, depending on the desired visual effect. Framed with elaborate backgrounds made from varying layers of translucent paper or colorful acetate foils for color films, Reiniger’s characters were created and animated with exceptional skill and precision.
Reiniger’s early films ranged in length from brief shorts of less than 300 feet to Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed/The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1923-1926), a film that is arguably the first full-length animated feature and is thus considered to be among the milestones of cinema history. Reiniger wrote the screenplays for her films and worked as a major contributor on a number of live action films, for example, as assistant director on films made by her husband Carl Koch. These included the wartime Italian productions Tosca (1940-1941) and La Signora dell’Ovest/The Lady of the West (1941-1942). Among her earliest involvement in motion pictures was her production of decorative silhouettes for the titles of feature films directed by Paul Wegener and Rochus Gliese: Rübezahl’s Hochzeit/Rübezahl’s Marriage (1916), Der Rattenfänger von Hameln/The Pied Piper of Hamlyn (1918), and Apokalypse/Apocalypse (1918). She also made animated silhouette sequences as well as shadow play sequences included in Die Schöne Prinzessin von China/The Beautiful Princess of China (1917) and Der Verlorene Schatten/The Lost Shadow (1920).
Lotte Reiniger, portrait. Private Collection.
In addition to producing silhouette animation films, Reiniger was equally engaged by live shadow puppetry, which was at times recorded on film and used in live-action films. For example, in 1933, Reiniger made a shadow play sequence for G.W. Pabst’s DonQuixote (1933). In 1937 she created “Le Pont Cassé,” which translates to “the Broken Bridge,” a short shadow play sequence filmed for Jean Renoir’s La Marseillaise (1938). This famed shadow play was the most popular piece by François Dominique Séraphin, founder of the Theatre Séraphin in Versailles in 1770. Reiniger’s filmed play emulated Séraphin’s style and was thus an homage to the roots of European shadow play.
The German Years
Before she left Nazi Germany and moved to England in November 1935, Reiniger had been deeply immersed in the cultural and intellectual avant-garde world of pre-World War II Berlin. Among her circle of friends in 1920s Berlin were such well-known artists as Walther Ruttmann, who contributed to Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed, and playwright Bertolt Brecht. The earliest films that Reiniger realized with full creative freedom and responsibility were produced by the Institut für Kulturforschung [Institute for Cultural Research] in Berlin. These early films include Das Ornament des Verliebten Herzens/The Ornament of Hearts in Love (1919), Amor und das Standhafte Liebespaar/Love and the Steadfast Lovers (1920), DerFliegende Koffer/The Flying Suitcase (1921), and Der Stern von Bethlehem/The Star of Bethlehem (1921). Established in 1919 by Hans Cürlis as a production enterprise for educational films, the Institute was also a testing ground for experimental animation. At the Institute, which was equally committed to film as an art form and as a highly effective means of communication and education, Reiniger worked with a number of other prominent young intellectuals. Among them was Berthold Bartosch, a collaborator on many of her films during the 1920s and, most importantly, Reiniger’s soon-to-be-husband, Koch. At the time, he was making educational films and documentaries for the Institute. Koch was interested in the technical aspects of filmmaking, specifically experiments with methods of animation. This made him an ideal collaborator on Reiniger’s films on which he was both camera operator and fellow animator.
Screenshot, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1923-26).
The short silhouette animation films were received with critical acclaim and lauded as art, yet financing such film productions proved difficult throughout Reiniger’s life. Reiniger and Koch thus supplemented their income with work for Julius Pinschewer, an early producer of advertising films. Two of possibly four animated silhouette advertisements by Reiniger are known to survive: Das Geheimnis der Marquise/The Marquise’s Secret (1922), which promoted Nivea skin care products, and Barcarole (1924) for Mauxion’s chocolate desserts. From 1923 into the early sound era, Reiniger’s most significant works were produced by Comenius-Film, a company financed by friend and patron Louis Hagen Sr. and managed by Koch. Following Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed, Comenius-Film produced four more Reiniger films: The three-part Doktor Dolittle series, based on Hugh Lofting’s stories, and Die Jagd nach dem Glück/The Hunt for Luck (1930), a live-action feature co-directed by Reiniger, Koch, and Gliese with Renoir and Catherine Hessling in major parts. Although initially produced as a silent film, The Hunt for Luck was released in May 1930 with a soundtrack produced in post-synch. Today, however, only the silhouette animation sequence survives.
Scene from The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1923-26). Courtesy of the British Film Institute.
Screenshot, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1923-26).
In 1926 Reiniger traveled to Egypt and then to Greece in 1936. While traveling, she studied the shadow play as well as the tradition of silhouette representation of the human figure. The popular Greek puppet show tradition of Karagiozis became a significant influence on Reininger’s work, supplementing her knowledge of ancient Eastern and Oriental performance traditions. Reiniger’s notes, screenplays, storyboards, and in particular her music and opera films, testify to the role that classical music especially played in the conception of her films from the silent era onwards. Classical music dictated the movements of the shadow figures, and she used the music of Mozart, Bizet, and Offenbach, but also collaborated with contemporaries such as Wolfgang Zeller, Paul Dessau, and Benjamin Britten, as well as her friends Eric Walter White and Peter Gellhorn.
Beyond the cinema, Reiniger designed costumes and sets for theatre and opera, staged puppet shows and shadow plays, and illustrated books, newspapers, and magazines. The study of the documents that Reininger left behind indicates that she was an accomplished artist working in ink as well as watercolor, as well as a writer and a poet. In addition, she occasionally gave public lectures on the animation process and experimental film history. Reiniger’s breadth as a multi-talented artist and filmmaker is apparent in the archival material: doodles, notes, letters, diaries, sketches, water colors, scripts, storyboards, silhouettes, as well as the finished films are evidence of the care given each stage of the film production as an art form.
Screenshot, Papageno (1935).
That her contributions to film history are not better known is perhaps attributable to her choice of subject matter: the majority of her silhouette films are based on fairy tales, fables, or ancient myths. Contrary to generally held beliefs, however, the treatment of the material is more suited to adult than to child audiences. Further, finding the target audience for her music films proved difficult. Immediately embarking on the production of music films such as Zehn Minuten Mozart/Ten MinuteMozart (1930) with the advent of sound, she realized something quite new—highly condensed, parody films of well-known operas like Carmen (1933) and Papageno (1935), films that are most appealing to an audience familiar with those operas. And yet, because of their ironic approach to the source material, and perhaps due to the use of film, as opposed to opera itself, they did not appeal sufficiently to these audiences to succeed in the German market and her productions struggled to find distribution. Additionally, the subjects chosen for her filmmaking—and also her choice of friends and artistic collaborators—did not meet the criteria set forth by film politics in Nazi Germany.
The Years in Britain and Europe
With the outset of war, on September 1, 1939, Reiniger left for Italy to rejoin her husband who had moved with Renoir to Rome in August for work on Tosca. Soon, without Renoir, Koch and Reiniger worked jointly on two live-action features, the opera-themed Tosca, which premiered in January 1941, and then the western La Signora dell’ Ovest. Before the end of 1939, Lotte had already completed her only Italian solo short, a film of Donizetti’s opera “L’Elisir d’Amore.” All three Italian film works were commissioned productions of Scalera Film S.p.a., Rome. In September 1943, on account of the worsening war-time situation in Italy—which had declared war on Germany on October 13, 1943—Reiniger and Koch were advised by the embassy to leave without delay. On September 22, 1943, they moved from Rome to Venice, and on Christmas 1943 they headed back towards Berlin, not least because Reiniger’s mother was there, in ill-health and alone. Surprisingly, back in the capital, Reiniger succeeded in receiving a film commission, and the rather prolonged production of Die Goldene Gans (1944-1947) secured their daily bread. In 1948 she left Germany permanently, and in 1961 she and Koch became British citizens. Since the 1970s Reiniger’s work has received limited but constant attention via festivals and specialized cinema programming, facilitating re-discovery by the film history community. Nevertheless, attention has been focused on the films produced and re-released by the British Primrose Productions in the 1950s. Most prominent among Reiniger’s now widely known films are fairy tales from the silent era, music films from the first half of the 1930s, and the popular series of twelve children’s fairy tale films produced in England in 1953 and 1954.
The limited number of films available on 35mm or 16mm prints has also resulted in an underestimation of the range of Reiniger’s work, and those made just prior to, during, and after World War II have hitherto remained almost unseen. For example, the information films she made on commission for the General Post Office and Crown Film Unit are not known outside of Britain. The multinational scope of her work, thus its ostensible lack of cohesion, and the spread of Reininger’s work across archives in Germany, England, Italy, France, and Canada is partly responsible for the incomplete retrospective reception and the paucity of scholarship. In a similar vein, many of her black and white works are widely seen and applauded while her equally impressive work in color made in Britain is ignored, forgotten, or lost. Fortunately, there is an abundance of readily available historical material, on paper and film, awaiting research.
Lotte Reiniger at work. Private Collection.
Close examination of individual films is highly rewarding: Reiniger’s productions of all genres—fairy tales, opera parodies, advertisements—are exciting and strange films, filled with contradictions, satirical commentary, and often, strong erotic undertones. For example, in Der Kleine Schornsteinfeger/The Little Chimney Sweep (1934), Belinda, the young, pretty protagonist is abducted by a Mohock, or “gangster,” after the two have watched a passionate erotic stage play. The version re-released by Primrose in 1953/1954 was shortened, stripped of its original soundtrack as well as the two erotically charged “seduction scenes”—a theater performance and an aria sung by the gangster—in order to accommodate the targeted child audience and television time slot. A wealth of unexamined material, including personal letters, diaries, as well as sketches, screenplays, notes, drawings, and storyboards, sometimes set to music, await examination in the Lotte Reiniger Estate Collection in the Stadtmuseum Tübingen [City Museum of Tübingen]. Likewise, the surviving production records in the National Archives in Kensington, which trace the production history of films made on commission for the British government, offer a starting point for future research.
Gassen, Heiner, and Lotte Reiniger. Lotte Reiniger, Carl Koch, Jean Renoir: Szenen Einer Freundschaft [anlässlich Einer Ausstellung Im Stadtmuseum Tübingen, 16.6.- 14.8.1994]. München : CICIM, 1994.
Large collection of original artwork and notebooks relating to Lotte Reiniger [uncatalogued]. Huntley Film Archives.
National Cinematography Collection. Silhouette artwork and cut-outs by Lotte Reiniger, including silhouette artwork entitled The Dance in the Park (1956), signed by Reiniger and cut-outs of dancers from Swan Lake by Lotte Reiniger. The National Media Museum.
Das Ornament des Verliebten Herzens. Dir./sc./anm.: Lotte Reiniger, prod.: Hans Cürlis, cam.: Carl Koch, contrib.: Berthold Bartosch (Institut für Kulturforschung e.V. DE 1919) si, b&w, tinted, 35mm (orig. length 302 ft.), 284 ft. Archive: George Eastman Museum [USR].
Der Scheintote Chinese [from outtakes of Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed]. Dir./sc./anm.: Lotte Reiniger, cam.: Carl Koch, contrib.: Walther Ruttmann, Berthold Bartosch, Alexander Kardan, Walter C. Türck, Lore Leudesdorf (Comenius-Film G.m.b.H. DE 1927) si, b&w, 35mm (orig. length 337 ft.). Archive: Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW], Filmmuseum Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf [DKD].
Grotesken im Schnee. Dir./sc.: Alex Strasser, Lotte Reiniger, anm.: Lotte Reiniger, cam.: Alex Strasser, Carl Koch (Deutscher Werkfilm G.m.b.H. DE 1928) si, b&w, 35mm (orig. length 961 ft.). Archive: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv [DEB] (16mm, 328 ft.).
Doktor Dolittle und Seine Tiere. Dir./sc.: Lotte Reiniger, anm.: Lotte Reiniger, Carl Koch, Berthold Bartosch, cam.: Carl Koch (Comenius-Film G.m.b.H. for Deutscher Werkfilm DE) si, 1928, sd, 1931, b&w, 35mm, 16mm:
Die Jagd nach dem Glück. Dir./sc.: Lotte Reiniger, Carl Koch, Rochus Gliese, prod mgr.: Carl Koch cam.: Fritz Arno Wagner, anm: Lotte Reiniger, contrib.: Arno Richter, Berthold Bartosch, mus.: Theo Mackeben, sound: Richard Masseck (Comenius-Film G.m.b.H. DE 1929/1930) cas.: Alexander Murski, Amy Wells, Berthold Bartosch, Catherine Heßling, Jean Renoir, si, sd, b&w, 35mm (orig. length 8661 ft.). Archive: Danske Filminstitut [DKK] (fragment–animation sequence only), BFI National Archive [GBB] (fragment–animation sequence only, no intertitles).
Sissi. Dir.: Lotte Reiniger, cam: Gustav Stiefel, Wilhelm Lehne (Charlotte Koch-Reiniger DE 1932) si, b&w, 35mm (orig. length 492 ft.). Archive: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv [DEB] (16mm distribution version by Hubert Schonger-Film), Filmarchiv Austria [ATF] (35mm, length unknown).
The Tocher/The Hidden Treasure. Dir./sc./anm.: Lotte Reiniger, contrib.: Martin Battersby, mus: Rossini, mus. arr.: Benjamin Britten (General Post Office Film Unit UK 1937/1938) sd, b&w, 35mm (orig. length 463 ft. ). Archive: BFI National Archive [GBB] (459 ft.).
(The) HPO/ H.P.O./(The) Heavenly Post Office. Dir./sc./anm.: Lotte Reiniger, contrib.: R.M. Harris, mus.: Brian Easdale (General Post Office Film Unit UK 1938) sd, Dufaycolor, 35mm, 341 ft. Archive: BFI National Archive [GBB].
Die Goldene Gans. Dir./sc./anm.: Lotte Reiniger (Reichsanstalt für Film und Bild in Wissenschaft und Unterricht, later Institut für Film und Bild in Wissenschaft und Unterricht, Germany , January 1944 to 1947) sd, b&w, prod. in 35mm but distributed in 16mm (436 ft.) [film initially remained unedited, in 1963 silent release through FWU, in 1988 sound track produced by ZDF for TV broadcast version]. Archive: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv [DEB](35mm image materials unedited, 1706 ft. & edited 35mm silent version, 1086 ft.), Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW] (16mm edited silent version, 436 ft. & sound track materials).
Christmas is Coming/Post Early for Christmas. Dir./sc./anm./cam.: Lotte Reiniger & Carl Koch, mus.: Edward Williams (Crown Film Unit for General Post Office UK 1949/1951) sd, b&w, 35mm (orig. length 96 ft.), 90 ft. Archive: BFI National Archive [GBB] (1950 version or copy).
Here and There/Address Correctly/Addressing Letters Correctly. Dir./sc./anm./cam.: Lotte Reiniger & Carl Koch, mus.: Edward Williams (Crown Film Unit for General Post Office UK 1949) sd, b&w, 35mm, 88 ft. Archive: BFI National Archive [GBB].
Not Without Licence/Is Your Set Licensed /Wireless and Television Licences. Dir./sc./anm./cam.: Lotte Reiniger & Carl Koch, mus.: Edward Williams (Crown Film Unit for General Post Office UK 1949) sd, b&w, 35mm, 93 ft. Archive: BFI National Archive [GBB].
Mary's Birthday. A Guide to Modern HealthVol. III. Dir./sc./anm.: Lotte Reiniger, contrib.: Carl Koch, Godfrey Jennison, Jane Philips (Crown Film Unit for Ministry of Health UK London 1950/1951) sd, Technicolor, 35mm, 944 ft. Archive: BFI National Archive [GBB].
The Little Chimney Sweep. [Shortened & adapted version of Der kleine Schornsteinfeger from 1934]. Dir./sc./anm.: Lotte Reiniger, prod.: Carl Koch, Louis Hagen, Vivian Milroy, mus.: Freddie Phillips (Primrose Productions UK 1953/1954) sd, b&w, 35mm, 942 ft. Archive: Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW], Huntley Film Archives.
Aladdin and the Magic Lantern/Aladin und die Wunderlampe. [Adaptation and recreation using motifs and sequences from Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed]. Dir./sc./anm: Lotte Reiniger, prod.: Carl Koch, Louis Hagen, Vivian Milroy, contrib: Carl Koch, Alexander Kardan, Stanley Newby, Gerry Lee, mus.: Freddie Phillips (Primrose Productions UK 1953/1954) sd, b&w, 35mm, 1293 ft. Archive: Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW].
The Magic Horse/Das Zauberpferd. [Adaptation/recreation using motifs and sequences from Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed]. Dir./sc./anm.: Lotte Reiniger, prod.: Carl Koch, Louis Hagen, Vivian Milroy, mus.: Freddie Phillips (Primrose Productions UK 1953/1954) sd, b&w, 35mm (long version, 1296 ft. & short version, 965 ft.). Archive: Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW], Huntley Film Archives.
A Night in a Harem/The Seraglio. Dir./sc./anm.: Lotte Reiniger, prod.: Peter Shankland, contrib.: Gerry Lee, ed.: Frank H.W. Cox, mus.: Mozart, mus.arr.: Peter Gellhorn (Fantasia Productions UK 1958) sd, col., 35mm, 1371 ft. Archive: Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW].
La Chimaera/Granada London Zoo Chimaera. [Silhouette animation sequence for television, identity of sequence not verified]. Dir./anm.: Lotte Reiniger (UK 1960) si, b&w, 35mm, approx. 75 ft. Archive: Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW].
Pied Piper/The Pied Piper of Hamelin. [Silhouette animation film shown as interlude for Christmas Pantomime]. Dir./anm.: Lotte Reiniger (Coventry Theatre UK 1960) si, col., 35mm, approx. 90 ft. Archive: Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW].
The Frog Prince/Der Froschkönig. [Silhouette animation film shown as interlude for Christmas Pantomime]. Dir./anm.: Lotte Reiniger (Coventry Theatre UK 1961) si, col., 35mm, approx. 240 ft. Archive: Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW].
The Lost Son/Der Verlorene Sohn. [Filmed shadowplay]. Dir./performance: Lotte Reiniger, mus.: Freddie Phillips (Primrose Productions for Evangelical Bible Society UK 1974) sd, col., 16mm, approx. 360 ft. Archive: Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW].
Aucassin and Nicolette/Aucassin et Nicolette. Dir./sc./anm.: Lotte Reiniger, prod.: Guy Glover, assoc. prod: Gordon Martin, contrib.: Patricia Martin, Jana Subert, cam.: Jacques Avoine, mus.: Andrew Huggett (The National Film Board of Canada CA 1974/1975) sd, col., 16mm, 570 ft. Archive: Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW], BFI National Archive [GBB].
Die Vier Jahreszeiten/Düsselchen und die Vier Jahreszeiten. Dir./sc./anm.: Lotte Reiniger, cam./contrib.: Cornel Schmid, accomp. mus.: Erwin Bootz (Teamfilm Düsseldorf for Filminstitut Düsseldorf DE 1980/1981) sd, b&w, 16mm, 85 ft. Archive: Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW], Deutsche Kinemathek [DEK], Filmmuseum Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf [DKD](Timecode Video + Kommunikation GmbH Düsseldorf version retrospectively coloured according to Lotte Reiniger's suggestions, with new chapter titles).
Rübezahls Hochzeit. Dir.: Paul Wegener, spec. effects (extant main title and all intertitles unadorned lettering in film materials at DEW & DEB, silhouette for main title): Lotte Reiniger (Projektions-AG Union DE 1916) cas.: Paul Wegener, Lyda Salmonova, Rochus Gliese, si, b&w, 35mm, (orig. length 4147 ft.). Archive: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv [DEB] (4744 ft.), Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW] (16mm print 1257 ft.).
Der Verlorene Schatten. Dir.: Rochus Gliese, spec. effects (silhouette animation sequence, shadow play sequence, title silhouettes, shadow tricks): Lotte Reiniger (Projektions-AG Union DE 1920) cas.: Paul Wegener, Lyda Salmonova, Werner Schott, Greta Schröder, si, b&w, 35mm, 5758 ft. Archive: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv [DEB] (35mm, 5794 ft.), Deutsches Filminstitut [DEW] (16mm print of US distribution version: The Lost Shadow, 2034 ft.). [Note: Credited in US version: “by Paul Wegener”].
Heut' tanzt Mariett. Dir. Friedrich Zelnik, anm. (silhouette sequence): Lotte Reiniger (Deutsche Film-Union AG Berlin, DE 1927/1928) cas.: Lya Mara, Frederick Louis Lerch, André Andrejew, si, 35mm. Archive: BFI National Archive [GBB] (35mm, tinted and toned print, 4629 ft.).
(The Adventures of) Don Quixote/Don Quichotte. [MLV film: 3 orig. languages: English, French, German]. Dir.: G.W. Pabst, spec. effects: Lotte Reiniger (Vandor Film, Nelson Film FR/UK 1932) cas.: Feodor Chaliapin, George Robey, Oscar Asche, sd, b&w, 35mm (orig. length 7072 ft.). Archive: BFI National Archive [GBB] (4961 ft.).
La Marseillaise. Dir.: Jean Renoir, contrib.: Carl Koch (screenplay), spec. effects (silhouette sequence “Le Pont Cassé”): Lotte Reiniger (Société de Production et d'Exploitation du Film La Marseillaise FR 1937/1938) cas.: Liese Delamare, Louis Jouvet, Pierre Renoir, sd, b&w, 35mm (orig length 135 min.). Archive: BFI National Archive [GBB] (8619 ft. of “cut-down” prints).
Tosca/La Tosca/The Story of Tosca. Dir.: Carl Koch, ass. dir.: Lotte Reiniger, Lucchino Visconti (Scalera Film S.p.a. IT 1940/1941) cas.: Imperio Argentina, Rossano Brazzi, Michel Simon, sd, b&w, 35mm, (orig. length 9432 ft.). Archive: Cinémathèque Française [FRC], FIAF-affiliated archive in Italy. [Note: Kochtook project over from Jean Renoir].
The Dancing Fleece. [Film for the British wool industry]. Prod./dir.: Frederick Wilson, anm.: Lotte Reiniger, co-prod.: Carl Koch, (Crown Film Unit 1950) sd, col., 35mm, 1768 ft. Archive: BFI National Archive [GBB].
B. Filmography: Non-Extant Film Titles:
1. Lotte Reiniger as Director and Animator
Amor und das standhafte Liebespaar, 1920; Der Stern von Bethlehem, 1921; approx. 2 additional advertising films made for Julius Pinschewer in the early 1920s; The King's Breakfast, 1935/1936; Dream Circus, 1936/1937; L'Elisir d'Amore, 1939/1940; The Grain Harvest, 1950; Wee Sandy, 1962; Cinderella, 1963/1964.
2. Lotte Reiniger as Actress
Der fremde Fürst, 1918.
3. Lotte Reiniger as Contributor (Animator, Special Effects, Assistant Director)
Die schöne Prinzenssin von China, 1917 [silhouette sequences]; Apokalypse, 1918; Una Signora dell'Ovest/Girl of the Golden West/Karawane, 1941/1942.
C. DVD Sources:
Lotte Reiniger Gesamtausgabe. DVD (Absolut Medien GmbH Germany 2008) - this comprehensive 8 DVD edition contains the following four films: Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (1923-1926), Märchen und Fabeln series,Musik und Zaubereien series, and Doktor Dolittle &Archivschätze series.
Lotte Reiniger: Die Gesamtausgabe. DVD (Absolut Medien GmbH Germany 2008) (4 DVD booklets included) - includes numerous films and documentary Die Frau Hinter den Schatten: Lotte Reiniger (Brigitta Ashoff, Hessischer Rundfunk, 1981).
Lotte Reinigers schönste Filme. DVD (Absolut Medien GmbH Germmany 2009).
Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed. DVD (Absolut Medien GmbH Germany 2005) - also contains Der Scheintote Chinese (1928), Aladin und die Wunderlampe/Aladdin and the Magic Lamp (1954), Das Zauberpferd/The Magic Horse, (1954); interview Die Frauhinter den Schatten/The Woman Behind the Shadow (1981); booklet with biography, filmography, notes about restoration and music, original poster, premiere invitation.
The Adventures of Prince Achmed. DVD (British Film Institute UK 2001)
The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Blu-Ray DVD (British Film Institute UK 2013)
The Adventures of Prince Achmed. DVD (Milestone Films US 2002)
The Adventures of Prince Achmed. DVD (Milestone Films US 2011)
Les Aventures du Prince Ahmed. DVD (Carlotta Films FR 2008)
The Adventures of Prince Achmed/アクメッド王子の冒険 /Akumeddo-Ôji no Bôken. DVD (Asmik Ace Entertainment Japan 2006)
Doktor Dolittle & Archivschätze. DVD (Absolut Medien GmbH Germany 2007)
Märchen und Fabeln. DVD (Absolut Medien GmbH Germany 2006)
Musik und Zaubereien. DVD (Absolut Medien GmbH DE 2007)
Lotte Reiniger: The Fairy Tale Films. DVD (British Film Institute UK 2008)
L'art De L'ombre Chinoise Chez Lotte Reiniger. DVD (Bibliothèque publique d'information France 2005).
Helen La Belle. DVD (Stadtmuseum Tübingen Germany 2008) (includes DVD booklet published by Stadtmuseum Tübingen)
A Night in a Harem. DVD (Stadtmuseum Tübingen Germany 2006) (includes DVD booklet published by Stadtmuseum Tübingen)
Lotte Reiniger Collection. DVD (Asmik Ace Entertainment Japan 2006) - contains The Adventures of Prince Achmed, “Art of Lotte Reiniger”short, “Fairy Tales of the World Collection” (1922-1955), and “Opera and Other Stories Collection” (1921-1974)
GPO Film Unit Collection: Vol. 2 - We Live in Two Worlds. DVD (British Film Institute UK 2009) - contains The Tocher (1937/1938) and Heavenly Post Office (1938)
Early Women Filmmakers: An International Anthology. DVD. (Flicker Alley US 2017) - contains Harlequin (1931), The Stolen Heart (1934), and Papageno (1935).
D. Streamed Media:
The Art of Lotte Reiniger/Lotte Reinigers Kunst/A Shadowfilm Exists: LotteReiniger bei der Arbeit. Dir.: John Isaacs, sc.: Louis Hagen (Primrose Film Productions London UK 1953 & 1964/65 & 1971)
Aucassin et Nicolette (1974/75) via National Film Board of Canada's online Screening Room
Clip from Die Abenteuer des Prinzen AchmedfThe Adventures of Prince Achmed (1923-1926)
Das Geheimnis der Marquise (1921/1922)
E. Unfinished Works:
Based on research in the the Lotte Reiniger Estate Collection in Tübingen:
Der Diamant (perhaps part of Die Jagd nach dem Glück):
--- Handwritten draft for a series, with sketches.
---Typescript, 2 pages: A chapter of the Diamant series, Der Diamant auf Reisen.
Das Labyrinth der Welt (possibly an alternative or working title of Die Jagd nach dem Glück):
--- sketches, ideas at outline stage.
Welt Theater (possibly an alternative or working title of Die Jagd nach dem Glück).
---screenplay/script for a live-action/animation film of religious theme.
---Annotated script: Mustafa. Ein Film aus 1001 Nacht. Drehbuch von Lotte Reiniger.Rom 1. Mai 1942.
---Mustafa Schema: Structure of film, different scenes laid out with music.
Girolamo (possibly alternative title of Ritter Mönch und Liebe).
Wald und Wiesenmanuskript (possibly an early script stage of Ritter Mönch und Liebe).
Das Gestohlene Baby
--- draft for animation film.
Der kleine Junge auf dem Jahrmarkt
Unnamed film project based on Maurice Ravel's 1925 opera “L'Enfant et les Sortileges.”
The archival filmography gives an incomplete list of film archives for many of the titles. It was compiled with the aim of locating surviving film materials relevant to the status of each film. Therefore precedence was given to film materials representing the most original surviving versions of the best possible technical quality. Consequently, the archival filmography has an emphasis on film elements usually unavailable to the researcher, elements as close as possible to the origin of the film work, namely, the camera negative. In the case of films predating the early 1950s, such relevant film elements are generally negative or positive elements on nitrocellulose film base. Film materials made available for research purposes only—for example, reduction printed 16mm copies, or 35mm duplicate prints, several printing generations removed from the camera negative—are not comprehensively listed here.
The Lotte Reiniger filmography remains incomplete particularly with respect to the exact number of advertising films produced by Julius Pinschewer. In addition, there is limited information about Reiniger’s work in Great Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. This includes live shadowplays filmed for television broadcast, and short film works for inclusion in live theatre and pantomime.
The filmography is based on the evidence provided by surviving film materials and their credit titles. In addition, the filmmography is based on Alfred Happ's 2004 book Lotte Reiniger: 1899-1981-Schöpferin einer neuen Silhouettenkunst, the standard Reiniger source.
Information regarding Reiniger's German productions has been corrected and substantiated using surviving censorship records. Her British productions on government commission have been verified using the production files at the National Archives in London.
The Lotte Reiniger Estate Collection in Tübingen has provided additional information about her work, especially regarding unfinished projects, aborted at various stages of pre-production.
The 1953-1954 fairy tale films produced by Primrose Productions are listed in alphabetical order since a chronology of production could not be established/verified.
In many of Reiniger’s films, the contributor credits are unreliable. This is because the credits as they appear in the titles of her films are usually incomplete. This is particularly the case with the nature and extent of Carl Koch's contribution, which is rarely established with certainty.
Screenplay credits are rarely available for Reiniger's films but it is assumed that she scripted and storyboarded the majority of the films that she directed and animated.
The limited availability of film prints through distributors and film archives, their frequently deplorable visual quality, the loss of image detail especially the fine grey scale of the background, as well as the lack of research into versions and variations, has impeded the reception and hampered scholarship of Reiniger’s films. It is hoped that the recent DVD-edition of Reiniger’s films published by absolut MEDIEN, Berlin in collaboration with the Deutsches Filminstitut-DIF and the British Film Institute will contribute to a reassessment of the surviving films.
Guerin, Frances; Anke Mebold. "Lotte Reiniger." In Jane Gaines, Radha Vatsal, and Monica Dall’Asta, eds. Women Film Pioneers Project. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2016. <https://doi.org/10.7916/d8-6m3p-mh27>