Friday, December 16, 2016

Original Production Animation Three Cel Set-up of Ursula from "The Little Mermaid," 1989

Original hand painted production animation three cel set-up of Ursula numbered W103 lower right, Potion Bottle numbered B103 lower right, and Bubble Effects numbered A103 and Walt Disney Seal lower right; all set on a lithographic background from "The Little Mermaid," 1989, Walt Disney Studios; Size - Ursula: 6 3/4 x 5", Image 9 x 13"; Unframed.

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"The men up there don't like a lot of blabber. They think a girl that gossips is a bore. Yes on land it's much preferred, for ladies not to say a word; and after all dear what is idle prattle for?" - Ursula 

"The Little Mermaid," is an American animated musical fantasy film and the 28th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. It was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures to theaters on November 17, 1989. The film was based on the Danish fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, which tells the story of a beautiful mermaid princess who dreams of becoming human. The film was written, directed, and produced by Ron Clements and John Musker; with music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. The voice cast includes: Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Pat Carroll, Samuel E. Wright, Jason Marin, Kenneth Mars, Buddy Hackett, and René Auberjonois.

Image showing the entire three cel setup of Ursula.

There was more money and resources dedicated by the Walt Disney Studios to "The Little Mermaid" than any other Disney animated film in decades. Aside from its main animation facility in Glendale, California; Disney opened a satellite feature animation facility in Lake Buena Vista, Florida that was within the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park at Walt Disney World. Their first projects were to produce an entire Roger Rabbit cartoon short, "Roller Coaster Rabbit," and to contribute ink and paint support to "The Little Mermaid." Another first for Disney films of recent years, was the filming of live actors and actresses for motion reference material for the animators. Broadway actress Jodi Benson (who was predominantly a stage actress when she was cast) was chosen to play Ariel, and Sherri Lynn Stoner, a former member of Los Angeles' Groundlings improvisation comedy group, acted out Ariel's key scenes.

 Ursula cel without the other cels or background.

"The Little Mermaid," 1989 was the final Disney film using hand painted animation cels. Disney Studios, specifically Ron Clements and John Musker, adapted the Hans Christian Anderson story to give the villain a much bigger role. The first choice to voice the character was Beatrice Arthur who turned down the part. It was eventually accepted by veteran stage actress Elaine Stritch; however she clashed with the music stylist. The voice was finally given to Pat Caroll who described the role as, "part Shakespearean actress, with all the flair, flamboyance and theatricality, and part used-car salesman with a touch of con artist." Although I would have loved to have heard Arthur and Stritch sing "Pour Unfortunate Souls," Ursula is the absolute embodiment of Caroll and I think she was the best choice!

Portion bottle cel without the other cels or the background.

The animation of the character was initially offered to Glen Keane, however after hearing Jodi Benson sing "Part of Your World" he wanted to animate Ariel instead and so Ursula ended up going to Disney animator, Ruben Aquino. Aquino credits Ursula as his favorite character in which he has ever worked and said, "When animating Ursula, I was inspired mainly by the voice and by the story sketches, but of course, I also worked very closely with the directors (John Musker and Ron Clements) to realize their vision. Given a great voice, the scenes almost animate themselves, and that definitely was the case with Pat Carroll's amazing vocal performance. I also did a lot of research on octopus locomotion to make sure Ursula's movements were convincing."

Close up of the  Walt Disney Seal production number on the bubbles effects cel.

This is an outstanding matching three cel setup of Ursula during her performance of the famous song "Poor Unfortunate Souls," one of the true highlights of the entire film!  It features Ursula singing to Ariel, grabbing a potion bottle off of a shelf, and getting ready to toss it into her cauldron. The lyrics that she is singing from this cel setup are below:

Ursula: "The men up there don't like a lot of blabber. They think a girl that gossips is a bore. Yes on land it's much preferred, for ladies not to say a word; and after all dear what is idle prattle for?"