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Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #17: 101 Dalmatians

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DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material.

What kind of Disney movie reads Playboy?

Only two years separated the releases of Sleeping Beauty and101 Dalmatians but they are, in every sense, eras apart. 101 Dalmatians feels so different, looks so different and sounds so different from its immediate predecessor that it almost feels like the work of a different studio. This is the first of what I call the Scratchy Movies, because of the harder, scratchier outlines of the characters compared to previous Disney eras. Take a look:

Tar and Sugar Era.

Never-Heard-of-Em Era.

Restoration Era.

Scratchy Era.

You see how the lines are so much starker and rougher in the last one? Why is that?

Well, during the production of Sleeping Beauty Walt basically realised that this would be the last time he could make a movie like that. He had to either find a way to bring down the costs of animating his movies or shut down the animation wing altogether and focus on live action movies and theme parks. Thankfully, Disney realised that animation is the very heart and soul of the Disney brand and that shutting down the animation department would be a declaration of war on the childhood of every living human being.

I live for the day when I will finally see Michael Eisner stand trial in the Hague.

It was then that legendary animator Ubi Iwerks came up with a solution: Xerox. Iwerks was probably Walt’s oldest friend, an animator he knew from all the way back in his days in Kansas City. Iwerks co-created Mickey Mouse with Disney, by which I mean Disney asked him to create a character, Iwerks then created Mickey Mouse, and so for some reason they are considered the co-creators of Mickey Mouse.

Because I TOLD him to do it.

Well, regardless of who is the true sire of the Black Mouse, by the early nineteen sixties Iwerks was in charge of special processes, essentially the R&D department of the animation wing. Using essentially the same technology as your office photocopier, Iwerks developed a way to copy the animators’ drawings directly onto the cels, resulting in a much cheaper and quicker animation process. The downside of this, as you can see, is that you essentially have to cut out the entire inking process whereby those rough scratchy lines are softened. The animators, incidentally, loved this technique because it allowed their work to be seen more clearly onscreen. The inkers, not surprisingly, did not love it because they were now out of a job. To put it bluntly, the Scratchy movies are not pretty. There is no way you could honestly claim that they are anything near as beautiful as the movies that came before them. But that does not mean that they are without value, in fact at least one of their number has a decent claim to being one of the most beloved Disney movies ever made. The Scratchy movies make up for their visual limitations with charm, wit and some absolutely killer tunes. This is the era of the really great Disney songs, “Bear-Necessities”, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, “Cruella De Vil” I could on and on. This era is like the younger, stoner brother of the earlier ones. Sure, he may be a bit of a mess, a lot less polished, and he certainly won’t amount to as much. But you can’t deny he has a certain laid-back charm, he’s cool, he’s funny as hell, he plays that guitar like a goddamn boss and he’s just more fun to hang around with.

But do NOT. Lend. Him. Money.

 So, let’s take a look at 101 Dalmatians.

FULL REVIEW HERE: http://unshavedmouse.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/disney-reviews-with-the-unshaved-mouse-17-101-dalmations

Comments

  • Skyscraper
    Skyscraper Sunday, 02 December 2012

    OKAY so I have been lax in my reply-duties, and this will no longer stand. Sadly I pick up at a movie I've never had much familiarity with. I've SEEN it alright, at an old enough age that I remember all the funny animals taking forever, but not old enough that the wonder of cartoons moving on screen didn't woo me enough to carry me through the boredom.

    I have to admit, I had no idea that Ub invented the xeroxing process though. Heck, I thought he had left Disney altogether in the forties, so that shows what I know. Soo yeah. Liked your scottish highlander joke, liked that you seem to at least imply to have a favorable view on Bolt (is that one up for review when we get THAT far ahead?), was amazed that THIS apparently earned them mad cash and look forward to your next movie, which I have ENORMOUS amounts of nostalgic love for. For this one, I mostly just remember Cruella de Ville and cute puppies, alas.

  • Unshaved Mouse
    Unshaved Mouse Monday, 03 December 2012

    I was absolutely shocked at home much money it made too. I was wondering where you'd gone to! Bolt impressed the hell outta me I have to say. I will be covering it, but since I'm going to be switching from a weekly to a fortnightly rota in the New Year (can't be helped I'm afraid) I won't be getting to it until 06 February 2014 when I'll presumably just be beaming into everyone's mind's telepathically. You're not wrong, Ub did leave Disney over an ownership dispute and left to form his own company but couldn't make a go of it so he eventually came back to work for Disney (presumably under a plaque saying "Don't Forget, I created Mickey Mouse and You're Here Forever".)

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