Sunday, July 5, 2015

Original Production Cel of the Mad Hatter from "Alice In Wonderland," 1951

Original hand inked and hand painted production cel of the Mad Hatter set on a lithographic background from "Alice In Wonderland," 1951; Size - Mad Hatter 8 x 3 3/4", Trimmed Cel 9 x 8 3/4", Background 11 x 14 3/4"; Unframed.

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"Mustard! Yes, mu- MUSTARD? Don't let's be silly! Lemon, that's different..." - Mad Hatter

The Mad Hatter and the March Hare are two of the most famous characters in the Walt Disney classic film "Alice In Wonderland," from 1951. The story is taken from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (commonly shortened to "Alice in Wonderland"), a 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. Disney reworked the story to fit with both a younger audience and a time frame suitable for an animated film (it's run time is 75 minutes). Kathryn Beaumont was just 10 years old when she was chosen for the voice of Alice and Walt Disney was so impressed by her that she was also chosen to be a model for Alice. The interesting thing about the story and the film is that practically every character that Alice meets functions as an antagonist towards her.

Production cel of the Mad Hatter without the background.

The Mad Hatter was voiced by Ed Wynn and he is one of the most memorable voices in "Alice" and a real stand out for the film. Wynn had a long history in Vaudeville and had developed his giggly, wavering voice in 1921 for the musical review, "The Perfect Fool." He had several roles at Walt Disney Studios, including his most famous acting role there as Uncle Albert in the film "Mary Poppins," in 1964.

The animator Ward Kimball was a tour de force for the film "Alice In Wonderland," and he animated the following: Alice (one scene), the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Walrus and the Carpenter, the Oysters, and the Dormouse. Kimball, was a superb draftsman, and he preferred to animate comical characters rather than realistic human figures. Because of this, "Alice In Wonderland" was the perfect film for him as it was filled with wonderful creatures all acting odd and comical. Animating came easily to him and he was constantly looking to do things in a different way; which lead Walt Disney to call Kimball a genius in the book "The Story of Walt Disney."

Close up of the Mad Hatter production cel.

This cel is from the scene when the March Hare asks for the time, and suddenly the White Rabbit appears shouting that he has no time because he is late! The Mad Hatter says, "No wonder you are late,  why this clock is exactly two days slow." The Hatter then begins a series of crazy fixes to the watch by taking off it's backing, looking at the gears and causing damage by adding salt, picking out the watch wheels and springs with a fork, spreading butter and pouring tea into the watch, pressing two sugar spoons into the open back, and spreading jam into the open back. Finally the March Hare, holding up a pot, asked the Hatter "Mustard?" And the Hatter replies, "Mustard! Yes, mu- MUSTARD? Don't let's be silly! Lemon, that's different..." This is a large and spectacular cel of the Mad Hatter squeezing a lemon slice onto the White Rabbit's pocket watch.

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