Monday, August 3, 2015

Original Production Drawing of the Evil Queen with the Heart Box from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937

Original production drawing of the Evil Queen 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 156 in graphite pencil lower right; Size - Queen 10 x 5 1/2", Sheet 10 x 12", Frame 28 x 29 3/4"; Framed with a gold wood frame, two acid free linen mats, gold wood fillet and conservation clear glass.

Development on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs began in early 1934, and by June Walt Disney announced to The New York Times the production of his first feature, to be released under Walt Disney Productions. Before Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Disney studio had been primarily involved in the production of animated short subjects in the Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies series. However, Disney hoped to expand his studio's prestige and revenues by moving into features, and he estimated that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs could be produced for a budget of $250,000 (this was ten times the budget of an average Silly Symphony).

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was to be the first full-length cel animated feature in motion picture history, and as such Walt Disney had to fight to get the film produced. Both his brother and business partner Roy Disney, as well as his wife Lillian attempted to talk him out of it. The Hollywood movie industry mockingly referred to the film, while is was in production, as "Disney's Folly." Disney ended up having to mortgage his house to help finance the film's production, which would eventually ran up to a total cost of $1,488,422.74; an absolutely massive sum for a feature film in 1937!

Close up of the Evil Queen original production drawing.

The Evil Queen, one of the greatest Walt Disney animated villains of all time, was created by the famous Disney animator Art Babbitt. Babbitt was already an accomplished animator prior to working on "Snow White," Disney's first full length animated film. He is was known for creating Goofy and his work on "The Country Cousin" had won an Academy Award for the studio in 1936. However, his work on the Evil Queen, which Walt Disney and Joe Grant (Walt Disney character designer and story artist) had conceived as a mix of different characters including a blend of Lady Macbeth and the Big Bad Wolf, as well as traits inspired by actresses Joan Crawford and Gale Sondergaard; would secure is place in the Walt Disney Studio. Refinement of the character of the Queen was done by animators Grim Natwick and Norm Ferguson; however the actual animation of the Queen fell to Babbitt.  

Close up of the Evil Queen original production drawing showing the production stamp.

Rotoscoping, a technique used in animation whereby live actors are used to portray the characters and then animators trace over the footage frame by frame; was not used as much on the Queen as it was on Snow White. Babbitt preferred to avoid rotoscoping and draw the character free hand. It has been stated that you could wallpaper a room with just drawings that Babbitt made just of her mouth and eyes; because all of her emotions came through her face. The Evil Queen, wonderfully voiced by veteran stage actress Lucille La Verne; holds a place in history as being the first character to ever speak in a full length animated film.

Framed image of the Evil Queen original production drawing.

This drawing of the Evil Queen holding the heart box is from the scene in the film after she had given the box to the Huntsman. The Queen ordered the Huntsman to kill Snow White and then bring back her heart in a box, to prove that he had performed the deed. In this drawing the Evil Queen realizes that she had been tricked by the Huntsman, and the box contained the heart of a pig. Her expression in the drawing is wonderful; her eyes are wide and shifted to the right, and her mouth and lips display an evil frown. The dialog from the scene is below:

Queen: "Magic Mirror, on the wall, who, now, is the fairest one of all?"
Magic Mirror: "Over the seven jewelled hills, beyond the seventh fall, in the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs, dwells Snow White, fairest of them all."
Queen: "Snow White lies dead in the forest. The huntsman has brought me proof. Behold, her heart."
Magic Mirror: "Snow White still lives, fairest in the land. 'Tis the heart of a pig you hold in your hand."
Queen: "The heart of a pig! Then I've been tricked!"

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