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Western Animation: The Adventures of Prince Achmed

Made by Lotte Reiniger in 1926, Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed is the world’s oldest surviving feature-length animated film, pre-dating Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by a full decade. Based on the legends from The Arabian Nights, it tells the story of the travels of Prince Achmed, who is tricked by an evil magician into riding a flying horse that takes him to distant magical lands. He falls in love with (and kidnaps) Princess Pari Banu, and must fight to return home with her in time to stop his sister, Princess Dinarsade, from marrying the evil magician.

In addition to its age, the film is most notable for Reiniger’s highly unique animation style, which uses black silhouettes of the characters and set pieces against painted backdrops. While this might be perceived as limiting, the characters remain highly distinct and expressive. Each silhouetted figure in the film was hand-cut and animated by Reiniger frame by frame – a labor of love that took three years to complete.

Provides examples of:

  • Arabian Nights Days: Beyond the general Arabian Nights vibe the story has, the main plot is taken from the Arabian Nights story "The Ebony Horse", with the story of Aladdin added to the second half.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Rather than killing Achmed, the evil magician leaves Achmed stuck on top of a volcano while he swoops off to reclaim Dinarsade. Achmed then falls into the volcano's caldera, where he meets the witch, who agrees to help him.
  • Cat Fight: When Achmed finally gets control of his horse and lands in the islands of Wak Wak, he finds himself in a castle populated by five beautiful women. They are all eager to kiss him, but when they start brawling with each other over Achmed's attention, he escapes.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Each frame of the movie was tinted to convey the location and/or time of the scene. Day scenes are yellow, night/caves scenes are blue, some indoors scenes are green.
  • Cool Horse
  • Crossover: Of several stories featured in The Arabian Nights.
  • Damsel in Distress: Both Peri Banu and Dinarsade.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The heroes have to go through a lot of crap.
  • Enemy Mine: The Witch allies herself with Achmed mostly because she just wants to kill the evil magician. "He is my greatest enemy! And we are friends!" (Hilariously, she tells this to Achmed right after she tries strangling him.)
  • Flashback: The story of Aladdin is told to Achmed by Aladdin in an extended flashback.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: It is implied that Achmed and Peri Banu have sex while in China. Right after rescuing her from a short guy she was forced to marry.
  • Good Witch Versus Bad Witch: The Witch of the Fiery Mountain allies herself with the heroes to defeat the evil magician.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Achmed can't figure out how to make the horse fly down at first.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: The Emperor of China to Peri Banu. The evil magician never really manages to do this with Dinarsade.
  • Nice Hat: Check out the four-tier headdress that Peri Banu is wearing
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping / Skinny Dipping: No sooner do Achmed and the horse land beside a lake than Peri Banu and her handmaidens arrive and take a bath in said lake. Achmed watches from the bushes.
  • Race for Your Love: Achmed, Aladdin, and the witch race back to stop Peri Baru's forced marriage to the Emperor of China's weird little troll buddy.
  • Rescue Sex: See Getting Crap Past the Radar above.
  • Shapeshifter Showdown: The witch and the evil wizard have one of these initially, then start throwing fireballs at each other
  • Shapeshifting Lover: Peri Banu and her handmaidens use feathered gowns to transform into birds.
  • Shipper on Deck: At the very least, Achmed seems okay with his sister marrying Aladdin.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: After the shock of the original kidnapping wears off, Peri Banu seems more than happy to stay with Achmed. After Achmed is willing to let her go, she takes pity on him and even resists when the spirits of her homeland try to bring her back.
  • Stop Motion: Being the oldest animated feature film period, this is also the oldest surviving example of a stop motion animated feature, although the trope actually dates back at least as far as The Cameraman's Revenge (1912).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The horse just kind of disappears midway through the movie.

    German FilmsAguirre, the Wrath of God
Union of HeroesGerman MediaDingo Pictures
The Unholy ThreeFilms of the 1920sExit Smiling
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. ToadAnimated FilmsThe Adventures of Mark Twain

alternative title(s): The Adventures Of Prince Achmed
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