The Adventures of Dr. Dolittle: The Lion’s Den (1928)

aka Dr. Dolittle in the Lion’s Den, Dr. Dolittle und seine Tiere – Die Affenkrankheit
Article 4827 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-20-2015
Directed by Lotte Reiniger
No cast
Country: Germany
What it is: Silhouette animation fantasy

Dr. Dolittle is treating a tribe of monkeys that have come down with the plague. When some of the jungle animals volunteer as nurses for the doctor, an angry lion forbids them to be of help. Then the lion discovers his own cub is ill…

Lotte Reiniger made three shorts in 1928 about the adventures of Hugh Lofting’s veterinarian, Dr. Dolittle. In 1929, the three shorts would be combined into a feature called DR. DOLITTLE UND SEINE TIERE, and though IMDB lists this feature, it does not for some reason list the individual shorts. Since the Walt Lee guide lists the shorts as separate entities, I’m following his lead and reviewing them separately. My first encounter with Reiniger’s work was a bit frustrating, as my copy did not have English titles, and the plot was rather difficult to sort out. This one had English titles, so I could sit back, relax, and be utterly charmed by the fluidity of the animation and the charm and wit of the story. The opening titles explain the animation process involving backlit pieces of paper, and then explains that the viewer will nonetheless marveled by the degree of life given these pieces of paper, and the titles are right; the animation here is masterly, and the fact that they are only silhouettes does not take away from it in the least. I anticipate covering several of Reiniger’s shorts during the next few days; if they’re all as charming as this one is, it will be a pleasure.


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