Malificent's Lair

Are you ready for Malificent? The new Disney motion picture will be opening this weekend and if you’re a die hard Disney fan or a fan of Sleeping Beauty you’ll probably be joining the legions of movie goers eager to see this new motion picture.

I’ve been doing a fair number of interviews about the new motion picture along with my old pal, executive producer, Don Hahn. Much of the chat has been about the original film the studio released in 1959. Though we were requested not to dwell on the negative, I honestly feel that the true story of the Walt Disney animated classic is a story that needs to be told. Those who know their Disney history already know that this motion picture opened to poor to negative reviews back in the late fifties. The box office was actually even worse and the movie going public decided to “stay away in droves.” Those of us who had labored long and hard on Sleeping Beauty were clearly bummed out by the cold reception given our film. Was all our hard work and long nights for naught? I’ll confess coming to grips with our “failure” was truly a bitter pill to swallow.

However, much like a Disney fairy tale this story has a happy ending. Years would past before the Walt Disney masterpiece would find a new audience, and when it did, the animated fairy tale became regarded as a Disney classic. Today, the motion picture is praised for its stellar animation and brilliant production design. The ornate, detailed paintings and color styling of master artist, Eyvind Earle inspires awe, and young art students intently study frames from the film. Having seen the masterful restoration, the animated motion picture honestly looks like the film I viewed in Walt’s studio theater back in 1958 in all it’s pristine glory.

As the new motion picture, Malificent readies for release, take a moment to observe this photograph taken of my friend, Rick Gonzales as he studies the color scripts on the wall of Eyvind Earle’s office back in 1957. Notice in the photograph that Rick is looking at color styling of Malificent’s lair. This dark, ominous location will play a major role in the film’s climax. There’s one final touch that you might find interesting. Can you guess where this photograph was taken? It was in 2-D on the second floor of the Animation Building and we’re actually in Eyvind Earle’s office. Yes, that’s correct. When I took this photograph back in 1957, Eyvind Earle was actually in the room. He was to the left of Rick near the window working away on a new background. Soft classical music played in the background and Mr. Earle was focused on his work. I quietly snapped this photograph and without saying a word, Rick Gonzales and I made our way quietly out of the room. It was a very special time and a unique moment preserved for all of you looking at this 1957 photograph.

Rick Gonzales studies the color scripts of Malificent's Lair for the Disney film, Sleeping Beauty. When I snapped this photograph of my pal, the Master Artist, Eyvind Earle was actually in the room. This photo was taken in 1957.

Rick Gonzales studies the color scripts of Malificent's Lair for the Disney film, Sleeping Beauty. When I snapped this photograph of my pal, the Master Artist, Eyvind Earle was actually in the room. This photo was taken in 1957.