Second Time Around

The Adventures of Prince Achmed
Eighty minutes or so of pure viewing pleasure await filmgoers adventurous enough to attend a silent animated film done entirely in cutout silhouettes. Beautifully designed and shot by pioneer animator Lotte Reiniger, The Adventures of Prince Achmed is in a way what movies can be all about -- imagination-stretching vehicles to dream on, and with. Loosely based on the Arabian Nights tales that've been reworked many times, this variant traces the love of Prince Achmed for a sky princess. He duels with demons and a sorcerer and is aided by Aladdin and his lamp. Children should love this film -- the cutout animation allows viewers to imagine character expressions, rather than having them given you. Adults with an eye for Weimar aesthetics should like it as well (Bert Brecht helped out with publicity and Fritz Lang attended the first screening.) The true appeal of this 1926 film is the snap of crisply filmed cutouts against pastel-hued backgrounds in a gorgeous restored print brought in from Berlin. While Reiniger was clearly the creative force on this project, she was aided by Walter Ruttmann (Berlin: Symphony of a Great City) on some stunning abstract sequences made with melting wax. Karl Koch was the director of record. There will be live musical accompaniment by Shawn Garmon.

-- Gregg Rickman

The Adventures of Prince Achmed screens Saturday, Jan. 9, at the Fine Arts Cinema, 2451 Shattuck (at Haste), Berkeley. Admission is $6; call (510) 848-1143.

 
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