A "silhouette film" by a woman pioneer of animation, Adventures of Prince Achemed (Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed, 1926) is one of Lotte Reineger's greatest achievements. Ornately filligreed paper cut-outs & unusual use of color conveys an Arabian Nights fantasy through stop-motion shadow-play.
Likely the majority of parents will regard this film much too frightening & risque for children, though the restored version in dvd release purports to be suitable for ages eight & up.
The music & images are artful & often psychedelic. A sorcerer with mechanical flying horse comes to perform for the Caliph & the Caliph's daughter, the Princess. The sorcerer will not sell his horse for mere gold, but instead tricks the Caliph out of his daughter.
Prince Achmed sets out to save his sister the princess, but the sorcerer's mechanical horse takes Achmed to a great distance, Achmed lacking knowledge of how to control the mechanical beast. He & the horse descend into an archipelago far, far from home.
He finds himself initially on an island of women who fight over him, but he escapes to a nearby island where flying maids doff their wings to swim naked in gorgeous pools. Among these flying maids is their beautiful queen, Pari Banu.
Achmed deprives the queen of her feather wings & by use of his mechanical horse kidnaps her from this land of demons. Still unable to control the horse, it takes them to China.
The prince is contrite until Pari Banu forgives him his forewardness & she agrees to marry him. She warns him that even if she does care for him, the demons of the island of Wakwak will come to destroy him, to retrieve her as their queen.
For love of the beautiful queen of demons, Achmed returns to her her flying suit. Only when no longer forced to marry him does she elect to follow him by her own choice.
Alas the evil magician, who has been seeking his mechanical horse, spoils the couple's intentions, inducing numerous colorful adventures, elaborate & pretty.
Intertwined with the story of the prince & Pari Banu is the tale of Aladdin & the Caliph's daughter, with assistance from a hideous though by nature good witch.
Truly a superb piece of animation, the adventures in China are given in striking contrast to the adventures in Arabia, permitting the director to create multiple ornate worlds in which the entwined tales unfold.
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