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Friday, June 26, 2015

Original Production Cel of Dumbo the Flying Elephant from "Dumbo," 1941


Original hand painted and hand inked production cel of Dumbo over a Courvoisier air brush background from "Dumbo," 1941; WDP stamp lower right; Size - 7 x 7 1/2", Image 4 x 3 1/4"; Unframed.


“Dumbo, the 9th wonder of the 'univoise'! The 'woild's' only flying elephant!”
―Timothy Q. Mouse

The Walt Disney full length feature film "Dumbo," released in 1940, introduced to the world one of the greatest characters in the Disney pantheon, Dumbo the flying elephant! Dumbo was the only character in the film who never uttered a single word, and yet he is one of the most remembered Disney stars. All of his feelings were conveyed through body movements and facial expressions. The extraordinary animation skill needed in order to do this with a human, but in this case a baby elephant, can not be underestimated.

The Disney Studio animation artists were still fairly new to feature animation, having only started in 1937 with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." The film prior to "Dumbo" was "Fantasia," with one of the most successful sequences being "Night on Bald Mountain." Here again, the main character Chernabog, a huge winged devil, sitting on top of a mountain, commanding the undead below, and never uttering a single word; made a huge impression on the viewing public.


Close up of the Dumbo production cel.

The Disney animator Vladimir "Bill" Tytla created the devil-giant for "Fantasia's" "Night on Bald Mountain," and for the next film he was given the task of animated the film's star, Dumbo. He said:  

"I gave him everything I thought he should have," said Tytla. "It just happened. I don't know a damn thing about elephants. It wasn't that. I was thinking in terms of humans, and I saw a chance to do a chracter without using any cheap theatrics. Most of the expressions and mannerisms I got from my own kid. There's nothing theatrical about a two-year-old kid. They're real and sincere- like when they damn near wet their pants from excitement when you come home at night. I've bawled my kid out for pestering me when I'm reading or something, and he doesn't know what to make of it. He'll just stand there and maybe grab my hand and cry... I tried to put all those things in Dumbo."


Close up of the Courvoisier (WDP - Walt Disney Production) stamp, lower right.

This is an exception cel of Dumbo from the point in the film when he is the most happy! It is seen in the very end of the film; Dumbo is flying, wearing his googles, with the crows following behind him. He hoovers in the air and then slowly lands on his mother's trunk, who is located on the back of caboose at the end of the Casey Jr. train.

To view the scene which this cel was used to create, click on the short video below: