Rapunzel’s Hairy Story Problems

It seems to me that one of the biggest trends within Disney’s Revival era is that most of the films go through at least one drastic story change before they turn into the final version released in theatres. The Princess and the Frog went from the story of a maid to the story of a chef. Frozen’s Elsa went from evil queen to loving sister. Most recently, Zootopia went from the story of Nick to the story of Judy. Yet, of the all the most recent Disney films, I feel like Tangled went through some of the most interesting and drastic changes. Given that the film was created during a tumultuous time in the studio’s history, that’s not very surprising. Over a ten year period, three incredibly different versions of the story of Rapunzel were developed at Walt Disney Animation. There is the final version of the film, the one we now know as Tangled (although many of you probably know that the film received this title very late in the game ).There was also a version entitled Rapunzel: Unbraided which was conceived as a satirical fairy-tale that would compete with Shrek.  Then there was the film I will refer to as Rapunzel , which was conceived as a dark, dramatic, and visually stunning classic fairy tale.  These two alternative versions of Rapunzel’s story could not have been more different from each other. Just compare these two pieces of concept art, one for each version of the film, both created by artist Claire Keane, and you’ll begin to get a sense of the drastic changes that were made during the development of Rapunzel’s story.



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A Sleeping Beauty Masterpiece Monday

briar rose 10

Just another brief Masterpiece Monday because I am so so so close to finishing up my article on Tangled. Here we have a gorgeous sketch from Sleeping Beauty of Aurora/ Briar Rose and Prince Philip done by animator Marc Davis. It’s personally one of my absolute favorite drawings of the pair.

Marc  Davis is probably one of the most famous of the Nine Old men who worked at Walt Disney Animation during the 1950s (I plan on doing a post on them at some point). For Sleeping Beauty he was the supervising animator for both Aurora and Maleficent as he was very skilled at animating human figures.Together with the film’s character stylist Tom Oreb they designed the look of the princess. They actually based much of her appearance on the  actress Audrey Hepburn, who had just become famous for her role as a princess in Roman Holiday. You can see some of the influence of Hepburn in this sketch.

Although Marc Davis did not animate Prince Philip, he did often draw the two together to get an idea of how their personalities would interact with each other. One of my favourite things about those sketches was that he often looked towards classical ballet for inspiration for their poses, drawing them as if they were dancing a pas de duex. Sleeping Beauty was of course heavily influenced by classical ballet as it used the score from Tchaikovsky’s ballet of Sleeping Beauty. You can see the influence within this sketch, especially in Aurora’s tendu with her back foot. I’ve also always felt like Prince Phillips trousers basically look like tights in this sketch.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s Masterpiece Monday. You can expect the Tangled article very soon.

Image Credit: Sleeping Beauty: Special Edition DVD

A Brave Masterpiece Monday


This week is another brief Masterpiece Monday as I am in Disney World. Once again I am featuring some concept art of one of my favourite characters, Merida from Brave. This also happens to be my first ever article about a Pixar film. I have been completely in love with this concept drawing of young  Merida since the moment I saw it, I think it’s so cute and perfectly captures her personality. It was actually my desire to feature this piece of art on it’s own that initially sparked my idea for my Masterpiece Monday feature and I’ve been waiting for just the right week to feature it.

This drawing was done by Pixar artist Mart Nolte in 2009, 3 years before the film was released. Despite her brief appearance in the film, a lot of effort  went into designing what young Merida  would look like and how she would act, as it helped the animators better understand teenage Merida.  Actually, early on Merida was intended to be an 8 year old girl, but the Directors quickly decided to make her a teenager instead. I feel this piece of concept art of a young Merida really expresses her wild and headstrong personality  in a unique way. Though I’m sure it wasn’t hard for them to capture that personality in Merida , as they based her actions off of those of director Brenda Chapman’s own headstrong 8 year old daughter.

Even though this fun character idea was not used in the film, it did actually inspire a toy sold at the Disney store.  Clearly I was not the only one who feels this cute sketch just leaps off the page and sparks your imagination about the adventures of little Merida. Things like this are actually a common occurrence with Disney characters. So often even when an idea or a drawing doesn’t make it into the film, it does not die, but instead gets a new life in the form of merchandise or an element at one of the Disney parks.

Image Credit: The Art of Disney Pixar Brave


A Mulan Masterpiece Monday


Today’s masterpiece Monday is a brief one as I have a very busy couple of weeks ahead of me (I’m going to Disney World!). It’s all about my favourite Disney princess, Mulan.

This is one of my favourite concept drawings  of Mulan done by her supervising
snimator Mark Henn. Amazingly Mark Henn has worked on almost every Disney princess throughout his time at Walt Disney Animation. He has worked on Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Anna, and Elsa in some capacity. I feel his drawings were especially influential in the design of Mulan, probably because he was one of the most experienced animators working at Disney’s Florida Animation studio (located in what was then called Disney’s MGM Studios) during the time the film was made.

One of my favourite things about Mark Henn’s drawings of Mulan is how strong and athletic he drew her, even more so than she looks in her final designs. Many of his concept drawings of her show her with these same thick muscular legs and arms and sturdy body as in this sketch. I think part of the reasoning behind this was that Henn looked at a real martial artist as his model, a woman named Mimi Chan who was working just outside the doors of the studio in the China pavilion of Epcot. Henn also usually drew Mulan in very active poses, carrying water as she is doing here or riding on horseback. Most of his sketches also show her wearing Chinese peasant clothes as this one does, complete with trousers and sturdy boots. Henn’s drawings were such a departure from the elegant slender sketches made of other Disney princesses or even by other artists working on  Mulan. That’s part of why I admire his work so much.

Hope you enjoyed this look at some of the work that my favourite animator did on the design of my favourite Disney character. If you want to know more, I highly recommend doing a quick google search of Mark Henn, you’re sure to find plenty of sketches and interviews with this amazing animator and princess expert.

P.S. If anyone has a character they would like to see in a Masterpiece Monday, feel free to click on contact and send me a message and I’ll see what I can do.

Image Credit: https://ohmy.disney.com/movies/2015/06/19/17-pieces-of-stunning-mulan-concept-art/


Untangling the Story of Rapunzel


I think by now most people know that Tangled wasn’t called Tangled until not long before it was released, but that wasn’t the only change it went through. Tangled‘s development process lasted about a decade (Glen Keane first proposed the film in 1999 when he was wrapping up his work on Tarzan!). Most films that are in development that long went through a lot of major changes in their story before they finally made it to the big screen. Tangled is no exception to that rule. There were actually two completely separate versions of the film that were developed before Disney finally came up with the film we know of as Tangled today. These other versions of the film are so different from  the final product it’s almost hard to believe they ever existed. While we’ll never know if these versions of Rapunzel’s story would have been as successful as Tangled, they certainly are fascinating to hear about.

So for my next article I’m going to untangle  the history of these alternate  versions of Rapunzel’s story and uncover all the transformations the film went through between 1999 and 2010. I’ll track the many changes to the crew of the film, and to the executives in charge of Disney, and how they affected the film’s development   To do this I will be combing through a lot of very unusual and difficult to find sources, like concept art, interviews, leaked presentations, and visual development videos. It may take some time, but it will be worth it to tell the unbelievable story of the film’s development from the version titled Rapunzel: Unbraided to the one we know as Tangled. So if you want to find out things like, how Disney tried to make Rapunzel a film that would compete with Shrek, or who’s idea it was to make the film look like a Rembrandt painting, stay tuned for my next article.

Image Credit: http://www.entertainmentgeekly.com/2010/12/07/rapunzel-unbraided-would-have-been/


A Brazilian Themed Masterpiece Monday


In honour of the 2016 Olympics in Rio I thought I’d give today’s Masterpiece Monday a Brazilian theme. This piece of concept art was made for the film The Three Caballeros and features Donald Duck and his Brazilian parrot friend Jose Carioca along with another South American Disney character the  Aracuan bird.

This fun piece of concept art wast painted by Disney artist Mary Blair after she took a trip through Latin and South America  with several Disney animators. Mary Blair is probably the most famous Disney artists there ever was. Her beautiful visual development art influenced films like Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. She also had an influence on the Disney theme parks. The design of “It’s A Small World” was based upon her art and she created a fantastic mural in the Contemporary Resort  at Walt Disney World. The tour she took through Latin and South America had a huge overall impact on her artwork. The cultures and art she encountered there inspired her to use  unusual bright colours and odd  shapes throughout her work. You can see that influence in this piece for she made for The Three Caballeros.

Jose Carioco is a Disney character who  comes straight out of Brazil. While traveling through Brazil, the animators began sketching a real parrot they were shown there and from those sketches they developed the character of Jose Carioca. He first appeared in the film Saludos Amigos, which was made by Disney in conjunction with the U.S. government during WWII in order to help facilitate good relations with the countries in Latin and South America. It’s a pretty obscure film that most people haven’t seen, but it contains a mixture of documentary footage from the Disney staff’s trip and animated cartoons and musical numbers. Jose makes his appearance in one of these animated musical numbers, during which he becomes Donald Duck’s guide through Brazil. He appears again in The Three Caballeros, which is essentially the sequel to Saludos Amigos. That film follows Donald Duck as he celebrates his birthday with his bird friends in Latin and South America. As you can see from this concept art, Jose is a major part of Donald’s birthday celebrations.

Thanks to this painting of Jose Carioca by Mary Blair, you now know a little bit more about Disney’s connection to Brazil. So for a little fun, here are some links to the original trailers for Jose Carioca’s two films Saludos Amigos and The Three CaballerosThey give you a good idea of what these two very unique Disney films are all about.

Image Credit: http://disneyconceptsandstuff.tumblr.com/

A Moana Masterpiece Monday

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Today’s Masterpiece Monday artwork is the exact opposite of last weeks early Mickey Mouse sketch. This is a piece of concept art from Disney’s new film Moana which comes out this November.Just a few days ago Disney held a press event to promote the film. There they displayed a couple pieces of concept art along with announcing the film’s official voice cast. This piece is one of my favourites of those that have been leaked from the event.

I always love following the development of new Disney films, and I haven’t been as excited about a film as I am about Moana in a long time. I’ve been following the progress of this film since John Musker and Ron Clements announced it back in 2013! (At the time the film was scheduled to be released in 2018, good thing that changed because I think I would have died waiting that long). I get more excited about the film every day, and beautiful concept art like this  only increases my enthusiasm.

For those who haven’t been following the film as closely as I have, Moana is about a 14 year old Polynesian princess named Moana (voiced by actual 14 year old  Auli’i Cravalho). She loves to sail and navigate the seas, and she is also said to have a very special relationship with the ocean, something that seems to be being explored in this underwater concept art. For reasons not yet revealed, Moana embarks on a journey along side the demi-god Maui. (voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), who is also pictured in this concept art. If you want to see even more about this exciting new animated film, you can watch the latest trailer here.

Image Credit: disneyanimationmoana.tumblr.com