While the “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” segment of Fantasia 2000 isn’t exactly Christmas themed, It has always reminded me of the holiday season. I think the toy ballerina and the tin soldier remind me of The Nutcracker ballet, and after doing some research I discovered that there is actually a ballet version of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” that some ballet companies perform as an alternative to The Nutcracker during the holidays. So with that in mind I thought I’d feature concept art from that segment of Fantasia 2000 in today’s Masterpiece Monday in preparation for Christmas. I unfortunately have not discovered the artist that created this particular piece of concept art, but you can see a signature with an H in the corner of the piece. It features character designs of the two main characters in the segment, the Tin Soldier and the Toy Ballerina and captures them beautifully in soft romantic colours.
This particular segment of Fantasia 2000 was loosely based on the story of “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” written by fairy tale writer Hans Christian Anderson. Just like the Hans Christian Anderson stories of “The Little Mermaid” and “The Snow Queen”, “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” was a story Walt Disney had looked into adapting as far back as the 1940s. At the time, Walt had plans to create a live-action biopic of Hans Christian Anderson’s life, with animated segments depicting his various fairy tales scattered throughout the film .Concept art for “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” segment was made, but when the biopic never came to fruition they were stored in the Animation Research library. That’s where director Hendel Butoy found them and decided to turn the story into a segment in Fantasia 2000.
This particular piece of concept art reflects the romantic style the animators were trying to create for the story. They looked to the works of famous painters like Caravaggio and Rembrandt to inspire the style of the two toys, but kept the colours soft and romantic, unlike the rather dark works of those paintings. They tried to give the short a timeless feeling, which was especially important to achieve once it was decided to make the two toys Disney’s first ever CG lead characters. Since these two characters were going to be put against hand drawn backgrounds, they had to look like classic animation while still showing off the new technology. Which is why getting the characters designs to blend those two styles in just the right way was so important.
Hope you enjoyed this piece of concept art from the “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” segment of Fantasia 2000 and a little bit of the history behind it. Good luck to everyone with your Christmas shopping.
Image Credit: disneyconceptsandstuff.tumblr.com