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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Original Production Animation Cels of Merlin and Mad Madam Mim from "The Sword In The Stone," 1963


Original hand painted production animation cels of Merlin and Mad Madam Mim from "The Sword In The Stone," 1963, Walt Disney Studios; Set on a lithographic background; Size - Merlin & Mad Madam Mim: 9 x 10", Image 10" x 11 3/4; Unframed.


"And just what are you gonna do about it? Want to fight? Want to have a wizard's duel?"
- Mad Madam Mim

"The Sword in the Stone," 1963 is the 18th full length feature film produced by Walt Disney and it was released on December 25, 1963 by Buena Vista Distribution. The film was based on the novel of the same name, that was first published in 1938. It was later republished in 1958 as the first book of T. H. White's tetralogy "The Once and Future King." It was to be the final Disney animated film released before Walt Disney's death on December 15, 1966. The songs in the film were written and composed by the Sherman Brothers, who would become very famous for their future work on later Disney films including; "Mary Poppins," 1964, "The Jungle Book," 1967, and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," 1971.


Original hand painted production animation cel of Merlin without the background.

Merlin is a very powerful wizard with a pet owl named Archimedes. He befriends and becomes the teacher of a 12-year old orphan named Arthur, who goes by the name of Wart. Merlin is first seen living in a forest cottage, and he believes in the philosophy of "Brain over Brawn." As a wizard, he is very intelligent, has a wide variety of powers, and is considered the most powerful wizard in the world. He has the ability to see into the future, and has the ability to shape-shift. Merlin was animated by Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas, and Ollie Johnston; and voiced by Karl Swenson who was an American theater, radio, film, and television actor.

Madam Mim was the villain in the film and was voiced by Martha Wentworth, a veteran actress with a long radio history dating back to the 1920's. She was the voice of several Disney characters in "101 Dalmatians" including Nanny; and Mim was her final credited role. Madam Mim was animated by two of Disney's greatest animators Milt Kahl (who also designed the character, refining storyboard sketches from animator Bill Peet), and Frank Thomas. Kahl animated her first appearance in the film, her initial interaction with Arthur; while Frank Thomas oversaw her famous "Wizards' Duel" with Merlin.


Original hand painted production animation cel of Mad Madam Mim without the background.

Although Mim claims to be more powerful than Merlin, during her opening scene she does only minor tricks. When Merlin stops her from attacking Arthur she challenges him to a Wizard's duel which involves mutating into various forms in order to best your opponent. She states that she is "mad for games," and lays out the rules for her duel with Merlin.

From Andreas Deja:
"The Wizard's duel sequence is a part of "The Sword in the Stone", the movie that edged out Chanticleer in the early 1960s. This brilliant sequence is the brainchild of story man Bill Peet, who boarded the entire film by himself. Peet started out by doodling character situations and dialogue ideas on note paper sheets. After polishing the continuity with endless beautiful story sketches, it was up to Milt Kahl to take a look at  Bill's boards as an inspiration for final animation designs. As so often the combined talents of these two extraordinary men produced some very inspired situations and great looking characters."

This is a great two cel setup of Merlin and Mad Madam Mim. The cels are from the scene that occurs in Mim's home after she has caught Wart, who is is the form of a sparrow. Merlin arrives just in time to save him, and Mim challenges him to a Wizard's Duel! A rare and wonderful pair of cels from one of Walt Disney's most memorable contemporary films. The dialog for the scene is below:

Madam Mim: "Uh! Me-Me... Oh, Merlin! Well, you're just in time. We were playing a little game."
Wart: "She was gonna destroy me."
Madam Mim: "And just what are you gonna do about it? Want to fight? Want to have a wizard's duel?"