Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (In the style of Lotte Reiniger)

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Born in 1899, Lotte Reiniger quickly became one of the leading animators of the early twentieth century and one of only three women animators to produce a feature film out of Weimar, Germany. With inhuman precision, Reiniger crafts intricate cutouts, which she then uses in her stop motion films as silhouettes.  With over two hundred fifty thousand frames of stop motion, Lotte Reiniger released her first feature film in 1926

called “Die benteuer des Prinzen Achmed” or “The Adventures of Prince Achmed.” Eleven years before Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” Lotte Reiniger is often credited with making one of the first full-length animated films. Over a span of sixty years, Lotte continued to make animated films.

Lotte Reiniger’s interest in art and animation started when she was young with inspirations such as Georges Méliès and Paul Wegener which later caused her to enroll in the Max Reinhardt School of Acting to join an acting group to with Wegener belonged. She then created several elaborate silhouettes for title cards and dialogue for some of Wegener’s films in the 1910’s, which led her to suggesting animating wooden rats in one of

his pieces. Lotte was then admitted into the Institute for Cultural Research in Berlin where she met future spouse and fellow artist, Carl Koch. After working with several other artists and animators for a number of years, including Rochus Gliese and Fritz Lang, Lotte Reneiger created her first animated film, based off the tales known collectively as the “Arabian Nights,” entitled “Die benteuer des Prinzen Achmed,” at the age of only twenty-four.

Although her inspiration is from various sources and in many different styles, Lotte Reiniger further improved the crude cutouts of yesterdays with complex details composed of many joints to allow more movement in each of the pieces. Making the junctures seamless but allowing a full range of motion is one of the many challenges she faced, occasionally using thin wire to hold together the small silhouetted shaped. With the help of

the multi-plane camera, Reiniger was able to create an illusion of depth in her films, which aided in further defining background, middle ground, and foreground images. While cutouts make up the majority of characters and any action in her films, Lotte also used hand painted backgrounds and other painted images in her work. Although her work is often considered to be an extension of the Expressionist period of Europe in the early 1920’s, Reiniger’s work lacks the often gloomy aspect of many of the aforementioned works. Removed from the large industrial film studios, Lotte Reiniger spent much time on her works with no need to worry about deadlines, but neither did she have the publicity of the larger animation studios and, while not completely forgotten, those larger studios often eclipse her work. Although other artists of the period focused on rhythm and movement, Lotte continued to pursue her goal of making animations based on children’s

folk tale. Perhaps her goals in making the animation are what make Lotte Reiniger independent of other animators of the time.

In an attempt to replicate the style of Lotte Reiniger, I chose to make a cutout animation of the nursery rhyme “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Each piece was made to represent the different aspects of the rhyme using a close precision that often caused many pieces to be remade when a mistake occurred. Using a multi-plane setup, I tried to make as smooth as

animation as possible by trying to keep movement between frames minimal. However, in addition to some faults by me, including bumping into the multi-plane and often dropping the panes of each frame several times, I also found it difficult to make the figures move naturally without having to bind the joints of the figures. Additionally, lighting became a problem, as I wanted to use lighting to represent a part in the song when the day is turning to night, but the light seemed unnatural and rather interrupted the flow of the piece.

Altogether, while my work based on those of Lotte Reiniger was far from the worst, it still lacked the extreme detail to which she crafted her figures and the smoothness of her animation.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the traveller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
‘Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveller in the dark.
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are.
How I wonder what you are

Works Cited:

Palfreyman, Rachel. “Life And Death In The Shadows: Lotte Reiniger’s Die Abenteuer Des Prinzen Ahmed.” German Life & Letters 64.1 (2011): 6-18. Academic Search Complete. Web. 8 Nov. 2013.

Schönfeld,Christiane. “Lotte Reiniger and the Art of Animation.” Modernity: Female Creativity in the Weimar Republic (2006).

The Adventures of Prince Achmed

Hansel and Gretel

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