Film 5: Hansel and Gretel (1955)

The classic Grimm fairytale about two lost children and an evil witch.

Among the great figures in animated film, Lotte Reiniger stands alone. No one else has taken a specific animation technique and made it so utterly her own. To date she has no rivals, and for all practical purposes the history of silhouette animation begins and ends with Reiniger. Taking the ancient art of shadow-plays, as perfected above all in China and Indonesia, she adapted it superbly for the cinema.

Reiniger’s Hansel and Gretel varies slightly from the Brothers Grimm original, particularly at the end. She herself would probably have loved to adhere to the original and would have had the witch burn in the oven, but the producers, having emigrated from Germany, regarded this as a taboo so shortly after the Holocaust, even for a silhouette film. Symbolised by the witch’s cane, evil is destroyed, which can be regarded as an unambiguous symbol – by no means an accident on the part of Lotte Reiniger.

Lessons

Hansel and Gretel (1955) by Lotte Reiniger, courtesy of Primrose Film Productions LTD.

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