Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Original Production Animation Cel of Maleficent From "Sleeping Beauty," 1959

 Original hand painted and hand inked production cel of Maleficent set on a matching hand highlighted lithographic background from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959; Size - Maleficent 3 3/4" x 4 3/4", Cel 12 1/2 x 15 1/2", Image 8 x 14 1/4"; Unframed.

"A forest of thorns shall be his tomb! - Maleficent

Initially Marc Davis, the animator for Maleficent, had wanted to use a black and red color scheme for the character however; Eyvind Earle, the background artist for the film, protested. Walt Disney had taken some criticism over his recent films for their lack of artistic achievement and so he had decided to put in charge an already accomplished Disney animation artist. Eyvind Earle had already been working at the Disney Animation Studios and was receiving acclaim for his artistic vision and technical skill and so he was chosen by Disney to supervise the styling, color, and backgrounds for "Sleeping Beauty." The film took six years to complete due to Earle's extreme attention to detail. Normal backgrounds for prior Disney films would take a day, however the Earle backgrounds could take up to ten days. In addition, Earle reworked not only the colors for Maleficent but the character design for Briar Rose so that she would work better with his pre-Renaissance Gothic vision for "Sleeping Beauty." "Sleeping Beauty," 1959 was the last of the Disney films that all the cels were both hand inked and hand painted, and many believe it to be one of the most beautiful and one of the greatest Disney films ever!

Close up of the Maleficent production cel.

If you ask people to name their favorite Disney Villain, chances are you will one of three answers; The Evil Queen/Witch from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," Cruella DeVil from "101 Dalmatians," or Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty." Two of the three, Cruella and Maleficent, were created/drawn by the great animator Marc Davis. Davis was part of what has been dubbed Disney's Nine Old Men; the core group of animators, some becoming directors, that created the finest animated films ranging from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", 1937 to "The Rescuers", 1977.

The voice of Maleficent was performed by Eleanor Audley. She had worked for Disney prior by also being the voice for the cold and calculating Lady Tremaine (The Stepmother) in "Cinderella." If is known that Frank Thomas for Lady Tremaine and Marc Davis for Maleficent, incorporated facials features of Eleanor into both characters.  

Photograph of the full original production cel of Maleficent.

This is an extremely rare cel of Maleficent casting the "Forest of Thorns" spell. With the help of the three good fairies, (Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather) Prince Phillip escapes Maleficent's dungeon. While riding on his horse Sampson, Phillip jumps over the broken drawbridge and escapes Malefient's castle grounds. Viewing all of this from atop a high castle tower, a furious Maleficent casts the "Forest of Thorns" spell to try and stop Prince Phillip from reaching Sleeping Beauty. This cel is the only one I have seen from this critical scene. Maleficent's eyes are open, her robes are blowing in the wind behind her, and her staff is pointed to the sky. The cel has been placed on a hand painted highlighted lithographic background that matches the film beautifully! The dialog for the scene is below:

Maleficent: "A forest of thorns shall be his tomb! Borne through the skies on a fog of doom! Now go with the curse, and serve me well! 'Round Stefan's castle, CAST MY SPELL!"

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