Friday, July 8, 2016

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

Original production animation drawing of Maleficent in graphite and red pencils from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959, Walt Disney Studios; Numbered 254 lower right and with animation ladder lower right; Size - Maleficent 7 x 6 3/4", Sheet 12 1/2 x 22"; Unframed.

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"It's incredible! 16 years, and not a trace of her! She couldn't have vanished into thin air!" - 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 drawing 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.

Close up of the production number and the animation ladder.

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.

This is a very rare, original production animation drawing of Maleficent in graphite and red pencils on pan animation paper. She is full figure, eyes open, holding her staff, and moving her long robe around her. The drawing was used for the scene, when a furious Maleficent is confronting her Goons about their inability to find Princess Aurora after searching for sixteen years. The dialog from the scene is below:

Maleficent: "It's incredible! 16 years, and not a trace of her! She couldn't have vanished into thin air!"

This is an absolutely beautiful drawing of Maleficent, the Mistress of all evil; full of wonderful movement and action. A great addition to any animation collection.

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