Lotte Reiniger, the silhouette of a pioneering animator

2 Jun 2016

Charlotte Reiniger has been celebrated with a Google Doodle on the 117th anniversary of the pioneering animator’s birth. If you haven’t heard of her before, you’re missing out.

Shadow puppets are wonderful for a couple of reasons. First up, making a bird is remarkably easy, so even kids can get involved. Secondly, it’s a skill you can definitely improve at, more practice means better silhouettes. Thirdly, puppets.

Lotte Reiniger felt the same way, although her work was far more substantial. Born in Berlin in 1899, she went on to become one of the most influential animators of the 20th century.

To create her stories, Reiniger made thousands of silhouettes with paper cut figurines and marginal tweaking at each stage. She took a photograph of each fractional scene, resulting in a flip-book type production.

Lotte Reiniger Doodle

A 1922 production of Cinderella inspired much adoration from animators. In 1926, her feature-length The Adventures of Prince Achmed was released, with some saying it was the first animated movie of such length. It took three years to create.

Take a look at her 1955 Hansel & Gretel film, a masterpiece.

Reiniger’s life was fascinating, with the artist producing incredible works of art – many of which pre-date Walt Disney’s work – before and after she fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

According to a report into her life and works, Reiniger said of the time “I didn’t like this whole Hitler thing because I had many Jewish friends whom I was no longer allowed to call friends.”

She moved to the UK from Nazi Germany, continuing to produce films until her death in 1981.

Decades later and Reiniger continues to inspire animators and artists, including doodler Olivia Huynh. Huynh was behind today’s Google’s Doodle, personally building almost everything, from the puppets to the top-down camera rig.

Silhouette image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic