The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed)
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Drawn from elements of the perennial classis ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’ – the earliest surviving animated feature-length film in existence – is a simply stunning example of the possibilities animation offers. With its gorgeous visuals that bring to mind the thrills of a shadow-puppet performance, it tells a timeless, enchanting adventure tale.
An African sorcerer conjures a flying horse, which he shows to the Caliph, who covets the magical animal and offers any of his treasures to have it. When the sorcerer demands the Caliph’s lovely daughter Dinarsade in exchange for the beast, much to her distress. Prince Achmed, Dinarsade’s brother, objects, but when he is carried away on the horse, so begins an adventure through strange lands involving battles with demons and monsters, a good white witch and the rescue of a damsel in distress.
Restored by German and British archivists in the late 1990s, ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’ is a real treat, the charms and magic of its classic story matched by the ethereal beauty of its imagery.