The doodles created by internet search engine Google get a fair bit of attention depending on the cuteness or intricacy levels. Since they started appearing in 1998, they have evolved significantly, with elaborate animations and country-specific tributes. The most recent doodle to grab attention pays homage to pioneering silhouette animation artist Lotte Reiniger on the occasion of her 117th birth anniversary on June 2. The German animation filmmaker predated Walt Disney by almost a decade and is often credited with the first feature-length animated film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926).
The tribute to Reiniger was created in her distinctive style by a Google animator Olivia. Google employees Nat and Lo (real names Natalie Hammel and Lorraine Yurshansky) went behind the scenes to show its making.
Reiniger was born in Berlin in 1899. Her first film was a four-minute love story, The Ornament of the Enamoured Heart (1919). She created haunting versions of popular fairy tales such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty (both 1922).
Reiniger’s breakthrough film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, was loosely inspired by the Arabian Nights and came in 1926.
Reiniger went on to direct several films, including a very early screen adaptation of Hugh Lofting’s Dr Doolittle novels, which feature a doctor who can talk to animals. Reiniger’s version was titled Doctor Dolittle and his Animals (1928).
Reiniger and her husband Carl Koch fled Nazi Germany in 1933 and lived in various countries until they officially emigrated to London in 1949 . Among their productions during this period are animated versions of the operas Carmen and The Magic Flute.
The original prints of her films were lost in these interim years and the restored copies that exist today are copies of copies, the original soundtrack having often been replaced by contemporary music and an increased pace, says historian William Moritz. “Although the ‘restoration’ reestablished the tints of the original, much of the fine background detail in most scenes is lost,” Moritz writes.
Reiniger died on June 19, 1981, at the age of 82. A video below, a part of the 1970 documentary The Art of Lotte Reiniger, shows her at work.