Thursday, August 4, 2016

Original Production Animation Drawing of The Old Hag (The Witch) From "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937

 Original production animation drawing in red, blue, green, yellow, and graphite pencils of the Old Hag (The Witch) from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937, Walt Disney Studios; Numbered 219A lower right; Production numbers lower left; Size - Old Hag: 5 x 3", Sheet 10 x 12", Frame 16 1/4 x 16 1/2"; Framed with a gold wood frame, three linen mats, a gold wood fillet, and plexiglass.

"One taste of the poisoned apple, and the victim's eyes will close forever... in the sleeping death!"  - Old Hag/Witch

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!

Original production animation drawing of the Old Hag/Witch holding the poisoned apple.

The famed animator Joe Grant created the initial sketches of the Witch, which had some basis in the early Witch drawings from Arthur Rackham's illustrations from "Hansel and Gretel." After Walt Disney approved the character design; Norman Ferguson was given the task of animating her. There were early concerns that the Witch would be viewed by the audience as more of a laughable and entertaining clown rather than an evil old hag; however, Norm's animation skill won out and the character seems even more menacing than her prior Queenly form. The Witch is the only character in "Snow White" to look directly into the camera and therefore address the audience. With her one tooth, expressive eyes, and boney hands; Ferguson had a lot of choices in which to invoke fear and to scare. Despite her slow movements and apparent frailness, we all know there is pure evil afoot!

The voice of the Queen was provided by Lucille Leverne and she also wanted to read for the part of the Witch. Leverne was a veteran stage actress and was perfect for the Queen, with a real regalness to her voice. When she was in the sound booth and Walt Disney heard her reading the role of the Witch, he stopped her and said that her voice just did not work for that role. Lucille said to just wait one minute and left the sound booth and then quickly returned and started the reading again. Now her voice had changed to that wonderful raspy, gummy, and single toothed sounding Witch. Disney was amazed and asked how she had managed to get that perfect character voice, and Lucille replied, "Oh, I just took out my false teeth."

Framed original production animation drawing of the Old Hag/Witch holding the poisoned apple.

This is a wonderful original production animation drawing of the Old Hag/Witch with her basket of apples and holding the red poisoned apple in her left hand. She is full figure, eyes and mouth open, and the drawing is accomplished in red, blue, green, yellow, and graphite pencils. The drawing is from the scene in the film when she walks under the pair of vultures on her way to the Dwarf cottage, to find Snow White baking pies. In addition, this is a rare multi-colored shaded, color call out drawing; that indicates to the Walt Disney Ink and Paint Department which paint colors are to be used for each section of the characters or objects highlighted. The numbers represent different paint colors and the lines indicate which parts of the character or object are to receive that specific color. For this drawing, the color indications are for the basket of apples and the cursed poisoned apple. A rare and wonderful addition to any animation collection!