Friday, July 10, 2015

Original Production Drawing of the Old Hag (The Witch) Holding the Poisoned Apple from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937

Original production drawing of the Old Hag (The Witch) with the poisoned apple from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937; Graphite, green, blue, and red pencils on watermarked five peg hole paper; Production numbers stamp lower left and numbered 178 1/2 in graphite pencil upper center and lower right; Size - Old Hag: 5 1/2 x 6", Sheet 12 1/2 x 15 1/2"; Unframed.

The famed animator Joe Grant created the initial sketches of the Witch, which had some basis in the early Witch drawings from Arthur Rackham's illustrations from "Hansel and Gretel." After Walt Disney approved the character design; Norman Ferguson was given the task of animating her. There were early concerns that the Witch would be viewed by the audience as more of a laughable and entertaining clown rather than an evil old hag; however, Norm's animation skill won out and the character seems even more menacing than her prior Queenly form. The Witch is the only character in "Snow White" to look directly into the camera and therefore address the audience. With her one tooth, expressive eyes, and boney hands; Ferguson had a lot of choices in which to invoke fear and to scare. Despite her slow movements and apparent frailness, we all know there is pure evil afoot!

Close up of the Old Hag (The Witch) production drawing.

The voice of the Queen was provided by Lucille Leverne and she also wanted to read for the part of the Witch. Leverne was a veteran stage actress and was perfect for the Queen, with a real regalness to her voice. When she was in the sound booth and Walt Disney heard her reading the role of the Witch, he stopped her and said that her voice just did not work for that role. Lucille said to just wait one minute and left the sound booth and then quickly returned and started the reading again. Now her voice had changed to that wonderful raspy, gummy, and single toothed sounding Witch. Disney was amazed and asked how she had managed to get that perfect character voice, and Lucille replied, "Oh, I just took out my false teeth."

Close up of the production number stamp.

Close up of the production number.

After the Evil Queen transforms herself into the Old Peddler Woman or Old Hag, she prepares the poisoned apple. The apple is created and pulled out of the Witch's cauldron and turns a bright red, "To tempt Snow White to take a bite!" This wonderful eyes and mouth open drawing is from that pivotal scene and occurs when the Hag is speaking to her pet raven and explaining what will happen when Snow White bites the apple. When the Hag gets to the part about Snow White's breath, the Witch clutches her throat, and this wonderful drawing is from that moment. The dialog is below:

“When she breaks the tender peel, to taste the apple in my hand, her breath will still, her blood congeal, then I’ll be fairest in the land!" - Old Hag (The Witch)