Lotte “Scissorhands” Reiniger: Pioneering Animator Predated Walt Disney By A Decade

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Lotte “Scissorhands” Reininger: Pioneering Animator Predated Walt Disney By A Decade
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We love when Google Doodle goes all WYSKy on the world and shines a spotlight on a woman everyone should know. Today was one of those days as they posted an ode to Lotte Reiniger (June 2, 1899 – June 19, 1981) on what would have been her 117th birthday. We had no idea who she was and, of course, needed to know more. Turns out she was German, the foremost pioneer of silhouette animation (more on that in a sec), created some 40 animated films… and her work was extraordinary!

“Nobody else has defined a form of animation as authoritatively as she did…” – Dan North, Film Academic

As Google explained, Lotte “created visually stunning and fantastical films using black cardboard, scissors, and boundless imagination.” She pre-dated Walt Disney by nearly a decade, and “pioneered a style of animation that relied on thousands of photos of paper cut-out silhouettes arranged to tell a story. It was a painstaking process that involved moving paper characters ever so slightly and snapping a photo of each movement.”

Featured above is one of the first silhouette animation films Lotte created, Cinderella in 1922. The title screen opens with scrolled text that reads, “What Cinderella suffered from the two sisters and her stepmother, how she grew into a fairy-princess here is seen, told by a pair of scissors on a screen.” The magic Lotte infused in all of her work takes over from there.

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