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Published on Oct 23, 2008
The Adventures of Prince Achmed (German: Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed) (Arabic: مغامرات الامير احمد) is a 1926 feature-length animated film by the German animator Lotte Reiniger. It is the oldest surviving animated feature film (two earlier ones were made in Argentina by Quirino Cristiani, but they are considered lost), and it featured a silhouette animation technique Reiniger had invented which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera. The technique she used for the camera is similar to Wayang shadow puppets (though it is important to note that hers were animated frame by frame, not manipulated in live action). The original prints featured color tinting. The story is based on the elements taken from the collection 1001 Arabian Nights, specifically The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou featured in Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book. With the assistance of Aladdin, the Witch of the Fiery Mountain, and a magic horse, the title character battles the evil African sorcerer to win the hand of Princess Peri Ban.
No original German nitrate prints of the film are known to still exist. While the original film featured color tinting, prints available just prior to the restoration had all been in black and white. Working from surviving nitrate prints, German and British archivists have restored the film including reinstating the original tinted backgrounds of delicate pastels.