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Posts Tagged ‘Animation’

I wrote about Lotte Reiniger on this blog several years ago.  In this world that is filled now with fantastic computer generated  animations, her work still has the power to amaze me. The idea that this person armed with little more than a pair of sharp scissors and some paper could create these worlds of wonder is thrilling to me, an incredible manifestation of the creative vision. I thought I’d rerun the post from back in 2010 and add another of her films, Daumelinchen, from a bit later in her life. Made in 1955, it tells the story of Thumbelina. Take a look and try to remember that these are just papercut silhouettes.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

I first saw a film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed,  from Lotte Reiniger several years ago in a series about early silent films.  It was made in 1926 Germany and was one of the first animated films made.  It’s a form of animation that Reiniger pioneered and mastered, based on Eastern shadow theatre.   Using silhouette figures, each is painstakingly cut and hinged then  filmed in small movements with time lapse photography to produce motion in the film.  This film took three years to complete.

Lotte Reiniger At Work

In this telling of the Arabian Nights stories, I was immediately struck by the beauty and movement of the colors in the film.  Each cell was tinted by hand to produce intense bursts of color that gave the film a gorgeous surreal quality.  The movements of the figures in the film are smooth and natural,  very subtle.  I found myself so taken with watching the movements and changes that I found myself not following the story.  But I didn’t care.  It was beautiful to see and sparked the imagination.

Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981), born in Germany and living most of her post-WW II life in Britain,  left quite a body of work from a career that spanned over 50 years, including one of the first film versions of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle. She’s pretty much unknown in popular culture which is a great shame.  Her work is marvelous and deserves to be seen.

Here’s a small clip of Prince Achmed:

And here is Daumelinchen or Thumbelina.

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Henri RousseauI just love the paintings of Henri Rousseau. It’s not something that I can quantify in any way. It’s not just the harmony of color and form or the subject matter or even the way it is painted. There’s just such a great sense of rightness in the work, a great sense that this is the artists’s reality.  It just reaches out and allows you to step easily into it while still maintaining a feeling of depth and emotion, a quality that many artists seek but few find.

I was surprised when I came across a video that animated some of Rousseau’s better known pieces.  Actually I was a little skeptical of the the whole thing.  But I watched it and found it very captivating in the way it is put together.  Soothing, actually, is a better word for it.

I don’t know if Rousseau would approve but it seems to be done with a great deal of affection for the work and maintains that sense of naivete, mystery and whimsy that runs through so much of Rousseau’s work.  Take a look for yourself.

 

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Ray BradburyYou can’t think a story — you can’t think, “I shall do a story to improve mankind.” It’s nonsense! All the great stories, all the really worthwhile plays, are emotional experiences. If you have to ask yourself whether you love a girl, or whether you love a boy, forget it — you don’t! A story is the same way — you either feel a story and need to write it, or you’d better not write it.

Ray Bradbury

************

I grew up reading Ray Bradbury stories–The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine and so on.  They were categorized as science fiction but they were really just stories of great humanity in different settings and times.  Every time I read a quote from Ray Bradbury  or read an interview, I like him more and more, if only for that same humanity that runs through his books.

A case in point is found in a short bit of an interview that he gave in 1972 during a drive with two students, Lisa Potts and Chad Coates, who had picked him up at his home in LA and were taking him to deliver a lecture at their college in Orange County.  This part of the interview is animated by Blank on Blank, which produces great animations of  rare found interviews from notable people.  Check out their site.

The quote at the top is from this interview and I think pretty much applies to the emotional experiencing of any creative work.  I have heard people say after looking at a piece of art that they don’t know anything about art, which to me implies that they don’t like it but don’t know whether they should say so because they might somehow be wrong in doing so.  But you often know instantly whether something hits or misses your emotional buttons, whether or not you say it aloud.  You have to learn to trust your own reaction.

But enough said, take a gander at the short film with Ray Bradbury.

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The Adventures of Prince Achmed aired again recently on TCM and it made me look up a post that I had written on it and its creator, Lotte Reiniger back in early 2010.  I am so enthralled by her mastery of her medium, which is silhouette animation and think her work should be better known than it is that I thought I would run this post again today along with an added biographical video.  Hopefully, if  you enjoy her wonderful work you will be inspired to look further into her art.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)I first saw a film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, from Lotte Reiniger several years ago in a series about early silent films. It was made in 1926 Germany and was one of the first animated films made. It’s a form of animation that Reiniger pioneered and mastered, based on Eastern shadow theatre. Using silhouette figures, each is painstakingly cut and hinged then filmed in small movements with time lapse photography to produce motion in the film. This film took three years to complete. 

lotte-reiniger-11In this telling of the Arabian Nights stories, I was immediately struck by the beauty and movement of the colors in the film. Each cell was tinted by hand to produce intense bursts of color that gave the film a gorgeous surreal quality. The movements of the figures in the film are smooth and natural, very subtle. I found myself so taken with watching the movements and changes that I found myself not following the story. But I didn’t care. It was beautiful to see and sparked the imagination. 

Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981), born in Germany and living most of her post-WW II life in Britain, left quite a body of work from a career that spanned over 50 years, including one of the first film versions of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle. She’s pretty much unknown in popular culture which is a great shame. Her work is marvelous and deserves to be seen. 

Here’s a small clip of Prince Achmed along with a biographical film:

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Steven Wilson- The Raven That Refused to SingMy friend Scott Allen from the Cleveland area sent me a link to a video the other day.  It was an animation of a song from Steven Wilson, a British progressive rock musician who is the lead singer for Porcupine Tree.  The song is titled The Raven That Refused to Sing and Scott said that he felt reminded by it of my Exiles/Outlaw series, both in tone and imagery.

It’s a dark and sad storyline that runs through the video as an old man deals with the grief of loss and memory.  But I could definitely see the parallels that Scott hadGC Myers- Followed observed , especially in certain scenes.  For example, the scene where the old man sits in his bed in front of the windows  ( shown above) instantly reminded me of my characters as they peer out their own windows with that same haunted look.  Perhaps their fear is much like this old man’s grievous fears.

The video was made by British animators Jess Cope and Simon Cartwright who have a real knack for incorporating this type of dark and mysterious subject matter in their works.  Their The Astronomer’s Sun is a much celebrated short in the same poignant vein. It’s definitely worth a look, as is this video.  Thanks, Scott.

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