Harlequin (1931)

aka Harlekin
Article 4829 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-22-2015
Directed by Lotte Reiniger
No cast
Country: Germany
What it is: Silhouette animated drama

A musician with a taste for women is thrown down from heaven, and begins seducing women. However, he meets one he falls for, but his seductive ways may make him a target for the devil.

I’m a little unsure about the plot of this one; though there’s no question in my mind that Lotte Reiniger is a fine animator, sometimes the stories are a bit on the obscure side. Apparently, for this one, she based her paper characters on commedia dell’arte stereotypes, which is probably why the plot somewhat resembles a bedroom comedy. Nevertheless, it isn’t played like a comedy; the mood is somber and elegant, as is the animation. Much of the animation this time is done to music, especially the opening dance scene. Once again, I’m impressed with just how much Reiniger is able to express in the silhouette form; with no conversation to rely on and no facial expressions to help her out, she has to rely on movement and body language, but she is quite successful at doing so. And, even if the plot is somewhat obscure here, the poetic nature of the enterprise comes through very clearly.


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