I’ve been listening to the opinions of people who recently had the opportunity to see Disney’s Malificent this past weekend. And, as could be expected, they either love it or hate it. I suppose none of this was unexpected. This is what happens when you attempt to deconstruct a beloved fairy tale, right? In any case, it’s a win-win for the House of Mouse. The film had a pretty strong opening this past weekend and the new movie will no doubt engender new interest in the classic Disney motion picture we made back in 1959.
I still remember sitting in 2-11 on Animation’s second floor and viewing the pencil reels back in 1956. The rough animation by Marc Davis hadn’t even been cleaned-up but there was little doubt about the appearance of the evil fairy. Marc had created such a compelling character she Immediately grabbed our attention and never let go. Why was Malificent so ticked off, we wondered? Why would she visit her wrath on a helpless baby girl? Did she not know she wouldn’t be welcome at the celebration? All these questions and more went through our heads as the rough movie played before us. Yet, somehow all these questions seem to drop away as we found ourselves entranced by this deliciously cunning new Disney villain. The curse was now in place and Malificent makes her dramatic exit as the king shouts, “Seize that creature!”
Before long, the amazing Marc Davis had completed his animation and now the task was handed to Dale Barnhart and his crew to clean up the completed animation. Animation artists, Ruben Apodaca, Fernando Arce and Robert Longo moved to an office on the third floor of the Animation Building and sketched hundreds of final sketches of the evil fairy. Before long, we were finally seeing color tests of Malificent animation and the final result was stunning. Malificent has very little screen time during the telling of the fairy tale. However, when the evil fairy is on screen she easily steals every scene. She’s pure evil, after all. What’s not to like?
Perhaps you enjoyed Malificent this past weekend or maybe you’re in the number that didn’t particularly care for the motion picture. It hardly matters in any case because it appears the Mouse House is eager to exploit their library of beloved classic fairy tales and we know this film won’t be the last. What can I say? It’s business, after all. However, if by some weird chance I was ever given the opportunity to bring a wonderful, evil character such as Malificent back to life, I know exactly what I would do. I would animate the whole damn thing using traditional hand drawn animation. Yeah! Hand drawn animation! Can you honestly imagine anything as crazy and stupid as that?