Lotte Reiniger had a unique way of telling a story with light and silhouettes as opposed to traditional animation. There’s a sense of style and understanding that her work can convey that others styles, such as live action or traditional animation, couldn’t accomplish at the time she was working, and possibly even now. Her dedication to her medium was outstanding and brought to life her stories in a way hardly any others can replicate. The silhouettes, made of fragile black paper or tin cut outs, usually looked delicately human. They have soft yet ridged bodies that move slowly, precisely, and invite the viewer in. Even the animals and settings in her work are delicate.
In her work, “Papageno” there is a unique animal, a snake, that slithers and wriggles about the frame from 4:43 through 5:35. The movement is fluid like a snake, yet is clearly a string of solid objects. In “Puss in Boots” there was a cat that from 1:00 to 1:15 had to move and stretch like a cat despite being made of fragile paper. The movement can be understood through the little gestures like licking his paw and sticking his tail in the air. Later in the film however, from 6:24 to 6:43, the cat becomes more human. He stands and talks with other humans to ask for assistance for his master. In “Däumelinchen” there are animals, like the mouse and frog, that try to emulate human movement. Both of them are clearly animals in their silhouettes but are able to move in another way and dress in human clothes. Reiniger was able to crate this combining juxtaposition between animal and human thanks to her ability to manipulate the medium. The paper silhouettes moved like animals almost flawlessly when it needed to, but also was able to move like humans. That was a talent Reiniger had that few people could replicate during her time regardless of their medium or style.
Light also plays a big part of Reiniger’s work. She’s able to change the mood of a scene with the back lighting of her work. In “Cinderella” lighting is used to show the difference in happy and sad moments. When the moment is worrisome or upset, it’ll be a dark blue, however when the scene is calm, happy or even magical, it would be a gentle purple. Later in Reiniger’s career, she begins to use brightly colored backdrops to express place. “Jack and the Beanstalk,” while beautifully crafted, lacked the heart her other works had. The detailed, lightless backdrops felt hollow next to her older work because of what the colored light could portray that backgrounds could not. Her film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, saw light based backdrops the entire way. The color changed based on the feelings of the characters. Blue was magical and eery while yellow was celebratory or exciting. Humans recognize colors as feelings and Reiniger capitalized on that skillfully.
Lotte Reiniger was a pioneer for her time. She manipulated her medium in a way neither live action or traditionally made films could hope to replicate.
My attempt’s Storyboard