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A large part of Disney's triumph cannot be detected by the naked eye. His
last animated film had been `Sleeping Beauty', which was the most
extravagant and spectacular animated film of all time (excluding
`Fantasia'). It wasn't a financial success. `101 Dalmatians', much less
extravagant, was. In the two years between `Sleeping Beauty' and its
successor there had been a revolution. The entire army of inkers who had
carefully translated animators' pencil drawings into smooth, flowing lines
were replaced by a machine that simply photocopied. This changed the
character of animation so much that `Dalmatians' is almost the precise
opposite of `Beauty'. Outlines are rough and black; the entire film looks
decidedly drawn rather than painted, even the bits that are in fact painted;
and the rich variety of colour of Disney's earlier films has been replaced
with the stark white-with-black-spots coat of a dalmatian, with the
occasional splash of startling red. The art directors were as determined to
get the most out of the new technology as they had been to get the most out
of the old technology.
And it has its own quiet extravagance. A title promising over one hundred
spotted dogs was (probably still is) the kind of thing liable to make
animators feel faint. It couldn't have been done without the photocopier;
and even so, getting spots to stay in the right place on a featureless white
background is a huge headache. None of this leaps out an audience. We
simply see a hundred adorable dogs.
The story is simple, clean, civilised, and warm. It moves slowly but this
doesn't matter. Preventing the film from becoming lethargic is Cruella de
Vil. She can drive like a maniac through the snow, smoke a cigarette
through a holder the length of a sword, wave her arms like a windmill ...
yet she handles quiet determination and gritted teeth equally well.
Character animation doesn't get any better than this.
Tags for 101 Dalmatians Full Movie
Betty Lou Gerson
, J. Pat O'Malley
, Martha Wentworth
, Rod Taylor
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