Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Disney's One Hundred and One Dalmatians

For Disney’s next animated film he went back to the dogs, One Hundred and One Dalmatians to be exact. With this film came major changes to the way animation was done. Instead of dealing with the inking process (tracing the animators pencil drawings to ink by hand) a new process of Xerox was introduced. Disney had a hate love relationship with Xerox. Artistically he hated it. He was a romantic and loved the look of all his other films prior, but with having his priorities elsewhere on television and his theme park, Disney gave the reins to Bill Peet ( who instead of several men doing the storyboard, he did the whole thing himself) and Ub Iwerks ( he brought Xerox to the studio). A somewhat benefit of Xerox for Disney was it saved him half the cost of what the film would of cost if it was done his traditional way. He especially liked this fact after the failure of Sleeping Beauty. But with Xerox came a price. A studio that employed over five hundred was cut down to less than one hundred. All the ink tracers were replaced with the giant machines. Some animators weren’t too keen on the change either. The machines failed to do any clean up on the animators sketchy drawings like the inkers had done. There are a few spots in this movie where you can still see the animators sketch lines. Later on they would learn to do clean- up on paper before the animation was copied. Eventually the process was improved and even included more color options for the Xeroxed lines that where only printed in black during the time of One Hundred and One Dalmatians.

The design of the film was a more angular, graphic style based off of the 1950-60’s graphic artist work that was seen in the magazine Lilli Put ( Fun Fact: In the film Pongo flips through some magazines on the bay window, Lilli Put is on one of the magazines.) One Hundred and One Dalmatians also marked the first time a Disney animated film was set in contemporary time. Probably the hardest thing the animators had to do was draw the spots on the dalmatians. To do so, they thought of the spots as a constellation. They determined an "anchor spot" and the next spot was put in relation to that one until the whole constellation was finished. In total, for all the dogs, it was about 6.5 million spots.

Another change up to the traditional way of Disney animated films was One Hundred and One’s music. There was only three songs in the movie, the least amount of songs used in a Disney animated film. One was just a dog food commercial jingle, then a rhyming tune called Dalmatian Plantation, and the most recognized: Cruella de Vil. It’s very ironic though because Roger is a song-writer. Several more songs were written for the film, penned by Mel Leven, including "Don't Buy a Parrot from a Sailor," which was supposed to be sung by the Badduns (Cruella's henchmen) and "March of the One-Hundred and One," meant to be sung by the pups when they escape by van from Cruella.

Walt again wanted to have live action references for his animated film. To save on animation, the scene must be acted out and cemented before animation was to begin. The animators actually hated the whole process. They felt it took away from their ability to create a character, since the character was basically being detailed by the live action scenes. Actress Helene Stanley provided the live action reference for Anita, like she had been the reference for Cinderella and Aurora before.

This is also the first animated film to have direct cameos of characters from another film. When the dogs of London are sending out the message that the puppies have been puppy-napped, several characters from Lady and the Tramp can be seen, including the title characters from that film. Peg and Bull can be seen in the window of a pet shop, and one of the first dogs to get the message is Jock. Lady and the Tramp can be seen for a few seconds on the street, but you have to have a keen eye to see them(if you click on the picture you can get a better look, but Lady is at the bottom and Tramp is on top of the carriage).

The film was actually an adaptation of a 1956 children's novel by Dodie Smith. In Smith's version, Pongo and Missis are the two main dogs living with the Dearly's. Missis has fifteen puppies and to help her feed and take care of all the puppies, a wet nurse (dog version) is sought after. They find an abandoned dalmatian in the road and have it treated and brought in. The vet names the dog Perdita and the new dog becomes the other care-giver for the puppies. Perdita reveals to Pongo how she came to be abandoned and how she has a lost love. Cruella de Vil has dinner with the Dearly's and speaks about her distaste for dogs and how they should all be drowned. This corresponds with the disappearance of the Dearly's puppies going missing, but the Dearly's are unable to track where the puppies are. With the help of other dogs, Pongo and Missis track their puppies down to Hell Hall where a total of 97 puppies are being kept, including their own. They are able to foil Cruella's plan to skin the puppies and they get everyone back safely with the help of Cruella's mistreated cat. The Dearly's purchase Hell Hall, renaming it Hill Hall and house all the dalmatians. Perdita's lost love, Prince, finds her and he is allowed to stay with the other dalmatians, making 101 altogether. Smith worked with Disney to make a great movie, which Disney did, but Smith didn't like that Missis was deleted and Perdita became the main female dog. Walt desperately wanted Smith to write him another story that he could make into a movie, but it never came to fruition. There is however a sequel to Dodie Smith's "The Hundred and One Dalmatians" called "The Starlight Barking."

Though this was the first contemporary film that Disney made, that doesn't mean that it wasn't outlandish. I find it unlikely that the Radcliffe's could keep their house that clean with so many puppies. Even when I was young I wondered why there wasn't poo everywhere. Though at that time I also thought that Perdita had popped out 101 dalmatians herself, realizing later on that she only had fifteen and the others were ones that Cruella had stolen. I'm pretty sure Perdita wouldn't be featured in the rest of the movie if she had had that many puppies, as she would probably be sleeping for weeks.

This isn't one of favorites, I have to say. Maybe it's because I'm not a pet person. It's still a good movie, but I'd rather see Peter Pan or The Jungle Book. Craig is also indifferent to the film, though he hasn't seen it in many years. All I can say is that Cruella freaked me out when I was a kid, near the end of the movie. You know, when she gets all crazy and her eyes get all spiral-y. How can someone be that obsessed over fur coats? Jasper and Horace are pretty funny though, what with all the Cockney accents and the "Cheerio Gov'ner!"

The film was released in winter 1961, and ended up being the highest grossing and critically acclaimed Disney film of the decade. It finished tenth in terms of overall gross for that year and made a little over 6 million in it's initial run in the U.S. and Canada. It has been re-released four other times, bringing it's total gross to 0ver 215 million, making it one of the highest grossing animated films when adjusted for inflation. The story is such a popular one that it was made into a live-action movie starring Jeff Daniels and Glenn Close in 1996. This is one of the fondly remembered kid's movies from mine and my brother's childhoods, but not so much the sequel, 102 Dalmatians, released in 2000.

1 comment:

  1. Non capisco perché vengano considerati di solito solo i primi 5! "Lily e il vagabondo" ha il cinemascope, "La bella addormentata nel bosco" lo stile medioevale, LCD101 utilizza al meglio il nuovo processo dando un tono stilizzato... forse perché ai film dal 37 al 42 partecipò molto attivamente Walt Disney?