Talking Points: Lotte Reiniger

This collection of videos and sources will help you explore the work of Lotte Reiniger.

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Lotte Reiniger was a German animation pioneer in the early 20th Century. Reiniger’s work focused on silhouette animation, she made over 40 films throughout her lifetime. 

Reiniger invented the first multi-plane camera, an invention which Walt Disney would later go on to adapt and patent for himself. 

Reiniger enjoyed retelling fairytales though silhouette animation and went on to create animations for Cinderella, Thumbelina and also spent 3 years making the first feature film The Adventures of Prince Achmed.

You might recognise her influence in more recent films, such as in the credits of the 2004 film ‘A Series of Unfortunate events’ or in the ‘Tale of three Brothers’ in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows pt 1.

Watch the videos below to find out more about the work and life of Lotte Reiniger.

Watch this video to find out more about her process.

Questions to Ask Children

Do you like Lotte Reiniger animations?

How do her animations compare with modern day Disney and Pixar animation?

Can you imagine why they were so ground breaking at the time?

Is there a story that you would like to see animated in this way?

How might you make a character seem excited through body movements alone? What about sad?

Thumbelina by Lotte Reiniger

Show this short clip to your class.

Questions to Ask Children

How would you describe the movements of the puppet?

Take a guess at how many different pieces had to be cut out for the puppet to dance?

Where do you think joins had to be made for movements?

Watch the clip again and ask children to create blind and continuous line drawings (not looking at the page) in a sketchbook of the puppet dancing. Ask them to look at the arms and legs and just draw whatever movement grabs their attention as the clip plays. 

Watch clips of the credits animation for the 2004 film ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ and inspire discussion using the questions below.

Questions to Ask Children

What similarities can you see between this animation and the work of Lotte Reiniger?

What differences can you see?

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