template / single events post

The Adventures of Prince Achmed with a live music soundtrack by Gamelan Sulukala

9 June 2019
4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Haybarn Theater at Goddard College


Gamelan Sūlukāla, a community gamelan group, has been playing together for the past 6 years using Goddard College’s beautiful Javanese Court Gamelan instruments. Their latest project will be a performance of their own soundtrack to “The Adventures of Prince Achmed”. The film, made in Germany by Lotte Reiniger in 1926, was the first ever feature-length animated film and is based on two tales from the Arabian Nights. The cutout silhouette animation technique used by Reiniger is similar to that of Indonesian shadow plays, which are typically accompanied by gamelan, so the idea of rescoring ‘Prince Achmed’ was a natural one. The gamelan score uses traditional Indonesian and 20th century American pieces for gamelan and creates a magical feeling that greatly enhances the exquisite animation.

About the film…
In 1926, German film maker Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981) created “Prince Achmed”. The techniques she used were completely innovative for the time. Her use of color, the movements of the shadow play style characters (people, animals, monsters, etc.) and her attention to minute detail are all stunning and groundbreaking. The film tells the story of Prince Achmed and his magic flying horse, how Aladdin found his magic genie lamp, the struggles and battles with witches and magicians and, of course, “damsels in distress” (it was 1926 after all).

“She was born with magic hands.” — Jean Renoir on Lotte Reiniger

“Dazzling! There has never been anything like it!” — San Francisco Chronicle

About Gamelan Sūlukāla and the music…
One of the well-known forms of traditional music of Java and neighboring Bali is “gamelan”.

A Javanese Gamelan is a group – or orchestra – of about 30 instruments ranging from huge gongs to tiny flutes with lots of xylophone and kettle type instruments in between. Each gamelan set is unique and has its own unique tuning. The music can be slow and dreamy and loud and energetic. The basic form is a kind of layering of many instruments playing similar music but in a wide range of octaves and levels of elaboration.

Javanese Gamelan has a long history in central Vermont dating back to the 1960’s when Dennis Murphy built the first village-style gamelan in the world outside of Java at Goddard College. There are now four functioning gamelans in central Vermont. Gamelan Sūlukāla (named in honor of a Murphy composition) was built in Java and brought to Goddard by an anonymous donor in the 1990’s.

About the performances…
The film is in 5 acts and runs about 75 minutes with short pauses between the acts and there will be an intermission. Preceding the film there will be a short demonstration of gamelan music and movie expert Rick Winston will give a brief talk on the history and making of “Prince Achmed”. There will be 2 shows: Saturday, June 8 at 7:30pm and Sunday, June 9 at 4:00pm.

Links to short clips (YouTube):
Aladdin and the Lamp: https://youtu.be/TQdJOm2EOw0
Final sequence: https://youtu.be/SkwCoA3CHlo