Animal magic: shape-shifting bodies in Lotte Reiniger's Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed
Palfreyman, Rachel (2013) Animal magic: shape-shifting bodies in Lotte Reiniger's Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed. Working Paper. University of Nottingham, Nottingham. (Unpublished)
Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 feature-length silhouette animation Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed) includes a number of striking examples of animal bodies, ranging from composites, machine-animals and monsters to a dramatic sequence of animal transformations performed by a duelling witch and sorcerer. Reading Reiniger’s magical animal bodies with Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s notion of 'becoming-animal' and with Rosi Braidotti’s feminist philosophy of metamorphosis, this working paper argues that Reiniger’s fairy tale exploration of animal bodies is grounded in an instinctive affinity with philosophical notions of transformation and becoming. It is thus insufficient to characterize her work as lacking political relevance to the historical reality of the Weimar Republic. Reading Reiniger’s film with a materialist philosophy of becoming reveals a broader conceptual and political challenge to viewers to rethink the nature of the body as not a single fixed essence, but as a fluid, metamorphosing multiplicity.
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