Monday, January 5, 2015

Production cel of Lady Tremaine (Stepmother) from "Cinderella," 1950

Original hand inked and hand painted production cel of Lady Tremaine (Stepmother) set on a lithographic background from "Cinderella," 1950; Production numbers in ink bottom center "2063-2.5.31" and numbered "48" in ink bottom right; Size - Stepmother 8 x 4 1/4", Cel 10 1/2 x 9 1/4"; Unframed.

"Often, patrons would be horrified or dismayed by the behavior of a villain, but more people actually hated the Stepmother more than any other villain we ever created." - Ollie Johnson and Frank Thomas from "The Disney Villain," 1993

Eleanor Audley (TV and film actress as well as familiar radio and animation voice talent) was filmed while she was dressed and speaking as the Stepmother; and as she performed scenes outlined in the film. Those film reels were used by animator Frank Thomas to convey even more realism to the character. Although the framed images were not directly copied by the animator, they were used as reference for lifelike movements. Eleanor Audley also voiced the Stepmother and her articulation conveyed the fire and raw power of the character. She could be sharp and curt in telling Cinderella what chores to do while lying in bed and slowly stirring her cup of tea, or her voice could be calm are cruel while watching as her daughters viciously destroyed Cinderella's dress.

Stepmother Cel without the background.

Frank Thomas did a phenomenal job of controlling the Stepmother's actions to make sure that they were were not wild and out of control; but rather calculated, cold, and precise. The story of Cinderella presented a situation where a villain lived and interacted with her victim day after day under the same roof. The actions of the Stepmother seemed even more cruel because not only were both she and Cinderella animated in a very realistic fashion, but because of the close proximity the cruelness of the villain could be seen as even more intense by the reactions on Cinderella's face. If all this were not enough, the Stepmother's arsenal of evil was compounded by her two ill mannered daughters Anastasia and Drizella; as well as Lucifer the cat, who delighted in trying to kill Cinderella's mouse friends.

Stepmother Cel with the background, not cropped.

This cel is from the above mentioned very famous scene. Cinderella, wearing the pink dress that was made for her by her mice and bird friends, races down the stairs just as Tremaine and her two daughter are leaving for the Ball. Lady Tremaine realizes that the dress is composed of elements from her daughters Anastasia's and Drizella's wardrobes. When the Stepmother points this out, both Anastasia and Drizella tear Cinderella's dress apart. As Cinderella stands there in the foyer in tattered rags, Lady Tremaine says, "Girls, girls. That's quite enough. Hurry along, now, both of you. I won't have you upsetting yourselves." The Stepmother takes one look at Cinderella before leaving and says simply, "Good night" while she closed the front door as she and her two daughters leave for the Ball.

To view this cel in the film, click on the short video below: