Friday, 5 November 2010

Alice in Wonderland Mosaic: Part 3

Here is Sequence 03.0 "Alice and the Doorknob" - directed by Ham Luske.

Alice's adventure BEGINS when she is still finding the White Rabbit - and notices a strange hall when the curtains move (probably the White Rabbit rushing through) - and then encounters the Doorknob who doesn't do any help for Alice - and gives Alice some advice but always makes the situation worse, the worse and worse; the more stressed and frustrated Alice becomes, and eventually when she is a giant; she ends up crying with giant tears and the Doorknob is trying to stop her, but she cries continuously, until she drinks from the bottle and SHRINKS to small size, and eventually being gulped through the Doorknob's mouth and onto Wonderland!
This is basically a sequence by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, with some scenes of Alice by Hal Ambro and Les Clark, a lot of the effects by Josh Meador (the pool of tears) and some scenes of Alice's hands and arms by George Rowley and one scene credited to Blaine Gibson.
Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston (who are long-time best friends) get to have a sequence, and they must have planned the sequence themselves. Frank Thomas who was long credited for his work on the Queen of Hearts does excellent work on the Doorknob (even though the Doorknob is the only character that's not a Lewis Carroll creation).
For such a difficult assignment, animating the Doorknob; Frank would have to animate it very carefully making sure that only the mouth and knob would move and it couldn't change shape at all. The character had personality and Thomas couldn't forget to add personality or otherwise it wouldn't work. Of course, some scenes show the Doorknob, who would chuckle and sometimes the door (itself) moves, but it was a difficult task to do and Thomas did a great attempt on it.
Here on "Disney Animation - The Illusion of Life" Frank and Ollie write, "Can a doorknob be animated so that it appears to be thinking about what it is saying? The knob is a simple piece of machinery, and had to be drawn with great care. Sizes that changed or jitters would have been more noticeable in this case because the character is anchored in one place. The outside says constant except for a slight move at the top in reaction to the brows lifting. The knob itself moves but never changes moves, so it retains its metallic quality. The keyhole mouth gives the feeling of enunciating the words very carefully, which fits the stuffiness of the voice.
The voice of the Doorknob, Joseph Kearns - does a great job with the voices and it makes it so stuffy and a brilliant chuckle!
Ollie Johnston basically handles most of the Alice scenes (with a few by Hal Ambro and Les Clark), Ollie's Alice works well - but it isn't one of the greatest Alice animation there is - notice how other animators animate it: Marc Davis, Les Clark and others animate the character brilliantly and appealing - and Ollie's animation is "alright" in my count. What I have noticed is that he's altered the head slightly of the character and rather more older looking, and making her chin slightly blunt! That's what I noticed, and in some of the scenes - when she's HUGE her eyes and face just doesn't feel properly shaped - but Johnston does some good scenes with Alice looking through the bottle checking if it's marked poison or not. But, it isn't the best Ollie's done in the picture - although I think his work's much more better when he does the King of Hearts.
Oh, I should point out that some of the layouts of the hallway is BRILLIANT, and the colours of the walls are just very colorful and "wowza"! - it just seems to go right and it's a lot unique and it's WONDERLAND, man! Although, for Charles Phillipi, who did layouts for his sequence and did many layouts for the film (we see a lot more of him later on), and animating all those squared walls (It can't be wallpaper) and the linoneum must have been a tedious job of carefully staging and laying out the walls and floors, but it was an important part of the sequence, and the background colours really demonstrates mood, that's why colour's very important for the Wonderland sequences!
Now, there's not much effects from the beginning, but when it comes to the end of the segment - there's a big chunk of effects animation which are Alice's tears with the scenes of "The Pool of Tears (as the book says)" and Josh Meador basically handles most of the tears (interesting of how some scenes of Alice crying with tears have no effects names!
Oh, when you look at the draft of this sequence, you'd see a lot of this on the scene artist assignment: JOHNSTON (Alice), THOMAS (Doorknob) and MEADOR (Tears); although I wouldn't add it in because it would use up a lot of space and I'd thought you'd know what the animators have done. Even though, some sequences from the complete Alice in Wonderland draft have several scenes with animators animating which character - it can be very helpful to those interested in these documents, but it would use up a lot of my space on the mosaic.
The chapter of the book "Chapter Two: The Pool of Tears" does not have the Doorknob in it whatsoever, and they do include bits with Alice with the bottle with a note printed "DRINK ME" and she shrinks and eventually becomes large and start's crying! Although, I find the book too complicating to understand, because I only read it when I was roughly 12 - and I did find it difficult to understand old Victorian puns and humour, and I wasn't too sure what I was following - but as I developed better, I should hopefully understand the plot much better! That's why the film adaptations usually help me (not the Tim Burton film)!
I shall leave it here -- I will be happy for you to be sharing your ideas! More coming soon, stay tuned!


Eric Noble said...

Very nice. You definitely know your stuff when it comes to Disney. I liked Hal Ambro's growth scene. Nice subtle use of squash and stretch.

The DIsney story crew did well with the Doorknob. Although an original character, they managed to give him a very Carrollian feeling to him, in the way he talked and such. It feels a little off in some places, but that is to be expected.

As for reading the novels, it is hard to understand the Victorian puns and humor, not to mention the mathematical references. You're better off getting an annotated version of it. You gain a fuller understanding that way.

Steven Hartley said...

Yes, back in around the Victorian periods or even the 1930's or 1940's - people talked rather differently in those days and not like today!

John V. said...

The Annotated Alice is a great book, although for some reason it assumes all of its readers are American! I only read both the Alice books in their entirety for the first time last year, although I had read parts of them both since my early kidhood.

Torgo25 said...

Now that you pointed it out, Ollie Johnston's Alice does look a bit off. She looks especially unusual in Shot 37, in which her dress collar seems to cover her entire neck. Still, I have to give Mr. Johnston credit for Shot 43, in which Alice goes from almost taking up the entire screen to being incredibly small and falling. That's something that couldn't be accomplished with the help of live-action reference footage. It would have been really hard to make Kathryn Beaumont shrink for the animators' reference!

Steven Hartley said...

Yeah, although it would be impossible to have a real human to be shrunk, and I think Ollie just had to imagine what would happen!