Saturday, July 18, 2015

Original Production Two Cel Setup of Ursula Hand Signed by Rubin Aquino from "The Little Mermaid," 1989

Original hand painted production cels of Ursula and her tentacles numbered W99 and T99 on a lithographic copy of a production background from "The Little Mermaid," 1989; Disney seal upper right; Hand signed in ink by her Disney animator Rubin Aquino upper left; Size - Ursula 6 3/4 x 11", Image 9 x 12", Frame 19 x 21 1/2"; Framed using a solid purple stained wood frame, two acid free linen mats, a black wood fillet, and plexiglass.

"The Little Mermaid," 1989 was the final Disney film using hand painted animation cels. Disney Studios, specifically Ron Clements and John Musker, adapted the Hans Christian Anderson story to give the villain a much bigger role. The first choice to voice the character was Beatrice Arthur who turned down the part. It was eventually accepted by veteran stage actress Elaine Stritch; however she clashed with the music stylist. The voice was finally given to Pat Caroll who described the role as, "part Shakespearean actress, with all the flair, flamboyance and theatricality, and part used-car salesman with a touch of con artist." Caroll also served as the live action model of the character.

Ursula production cels without the background.

The animation of the character was initially offered to Glen Keane, however after hearing Jodi Benson sing "Part of Your World" he wanted to animate Ariel instead and so Ursula ended up going to Disney animator, Ruben Aquino. Aquino credits Ursula as his favorite character in which he has ever worked and said, "When animating Ursula, I was inspired mainly by the voice and by the story sketches, but of course, I also worked very closely with the directors (John Musker and Ron Clements) to realize their vision. Given a great voice, the scenes almost animate themselves, and that definitely was the case with Pat Carroll's amazing vocal performance. I also did a lot of research on octopus locomotion to make sure Ursula's movements were convincing."

Close up of the Ruben Aquino signature.

Framed Ursula production cels.

This is a matched two cel setup of Ursula's body, and a cel of her tentacles. This is perhaps the greatest portrait cel setup of Ursula in the entire film! The image of her is perfect and it is hand signed by her animator Rubin Aquino in black ink upper left. The cels appear at the end of Ursula's first appearance in the film, when she realizes that Ariel (King Triton's daughter) may be able to be manipulated. The dialog for the cel is below:

"She (Ariel) may be the key to Triton's undoing" - Ursula

To view the scene which these cels were used to create, click on the short video below: