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Lotte Reiniger: The Pioneering Animator Who Still Inspires Film Design Today

As impressive as ever

Today marks what would be the 117th birthday of Lotte Reiniger, the pioneering German filmmaker who introduced the world to the wonders of animation in the 1920s. From a slew of short film experiments to her first feature-length film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, Reiniger widely explored silhouette animation with thousands of paper cut-outs at a time, inventing, in the process, a precursor to the multiplane camera popularized by Walt Disney Studios films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty. The resulting effect, an impressive dance of shadow characters against marvelous backdrops, still influences the design of films today.

One prime example of Reiniger's lasting influence surfaces in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010), in which a three-minute animation brings to life the wizard-world fairy tale, The Tale of the Three Brothers. As sequence supervisor Dale Newton tells FXGuide, the producers knew they wanted to create something along the lines of a Reiniger animation. "What we got out of that was a certain simplicity and naivety," he says, "we knew it had to be told very graphically with bold silhouettes."

Below, take a peek at a few Reiniger films that demonstrate how compelling her bold, graphic style is at conveying characters in wondrous sceneries. Today's Google Doodle is also a

Cinderella (1922)

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

Thumbelina (1954)


Hansel and Gretel (1955)


Jack and the Beanstalk (1955)