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Saturday, July 2, 2016

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


Original hand painted and hand inked production animation cel of Maleficent set on a lithographic background from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959, Walt Disney Studios; Size - Maleficent 9 x 15 1/4", Image 11 1/2 x 16", Frame 23 x 27"; Framed with a gold wood frame, two linen mats, gold wood fillet, and plexiglass. 

"You poor simple fools, thinking you could defeat me. Me, the mistress of all evil. Well, here's your precious princess!" - Maleficent

"Sleeping Beauty" is a Walt Disney animated full length feature film and was based on "The Sleeping Beauty" by Charles Perrault and "Little Briar Rose" by The Brothers Grimm. The film was the sixteenth in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, and it was released to theaters on January 29, 1959 by Buena Vista Distribution. This was to be the last Disney adaptation of a fairy tale for many years, both because of its initial mixed critical reception, and because of it's under performance at the box office. The Walt Disney studio did not return to the fairy tale genre until 30 years later, with the release of "The Little Mermaid" in 1989.

"Sleeping Beauty" was directed by Les Clark, Eric Larson, and Wolfgang Reitherman, under the supervision of Clyde Geronimi. The story was written by Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright, and Milt Banta. The film's musical score and songs, featuring the Graunke Symphony Orchestra, was under the direction of George Bruns. Arrangements and/or adaptations were derived from numbers from the 1890 "Sleeping Beauty Ballet" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In addition, Igor Stravinsky's music compositions were also adapted into the film. "Sleeping Beauty" was the first animated film to be photographed in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process, as well as the second full-length animated feature film to be filmed in anamorphic widescreen; following "Lady and the Tramp" four years earlier. In select first-run engagements, the film was presented in Super Technirama 70 and 6-channel stereophonic sound.


Close up of the original production animation cel of Maleficent.

The style for "Sleeping Beauty" was based on the art of Eyvind Earle, who was known for his 'Pre-Renaissance' style; accomplished with strong vertical lines combined with Gothic elegance. Earle was involved with the design of all the characters in the film, and he designed and painted most of the backgrounds. The early sketches for Maleficent depicted a hag-like witch, however it was later decided that her final design should be more elegant; as it better suited Earle's backgrounds. The principal animator for Maleficent, Marc Davis, decided to make Maleficent a powerful fairy rather than an old crone that had been described in the original source material. A contributing factor for this decision may have been influenced by the choice of Eleanor Audley to be the voice of the character. Audley had previously worked for Disney by providing the voice for the cold and calculating Lady Tremaine (The Stepmother) in "Cinderella." It is known that Frank Thomas who animated Lady Tremaine and Marc Davis who animated Maleficent, incorporated the facials features of Eleanor into both characters. Audley was also the live-action model for Maleficent, and Marc Davis claimed that her movements and expressions were ultimately incorporated into the animation.

Marc Davis's design for Maleficent's costume was inspired by a book on Medieval art. One of the images featured was that of a religious figure with long robes, the ends of which resembled flames. Davis incorporated this into Maleficent's final design, and he based the sides of her headdress on the wings of a bat, and the top of her headdress on the horns of a devil. 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 "One hundred and One Dalmatians," or Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty." Two of the three, Cruella and Maleficent, were created and drawn by the great Walt Disney animator Marc Davis.


Framed original production animation cel of Maleficent.

This is a very rare, eyes and mouth open, full figure, original production animation cel of Maleficent. This cel is from the very famous scene right after Briar Rose/Princess Aurora pricks her finger on the spinning wheel; fulfilling Maleficent's evil spell! All three Good Fairies rush into the room, only to find Maleficent standing alone with her staff. The dialog from the scene is below:

Maleficent: "You poor simple fools, thinking you could defeat me. Me, the mistress of all evil. Well, here's your precious princess!"

Maleficent then pulls her ends of her robe with her left hand, revealing Princess Aurora unconscious on the floor after touching the spindle of the spinning wheel. An absolutely beautiful cel from one of the greatest scenes in the film! A great addition to any animation collection.

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