Sunday, 5 December 2010

Alice in Wonderland Mosaic: Part 10

Before my long break of posting until Friday; here is a charming sequence with one of the most famous characters, The Cheshire Cat - directed by Clyde Geronomi.

As a result, Alice is now back to normal size and keeps the mushrooms for later on in case for other problems (the problems come later and uses the mushrooms again for the Trial sequence), and this time Alice walks through a creepy forest with lots of signs reading "UP", "THAT WAY", "THIS WAY", "YONDER", etc. She is still confuses (as she was earlier), and then she sees flashing colours on different barks of the trees; and hears a strange voice from nowhere singing; until she sees a mouth, shaped like a crescent, and she could've thought it was the moon; and then the smile develops it's whole body and it becomes the Cheshire Cat. Alice notices it's a cat, and she seems fond of cats by the look of her face; but the Cheshire Cat doesn't take any of her advice; he does but he makes it complicating, he later advices him to see the Mad Hatter or March Hare, as she rejects because she "doesn't want to go along with mad people".

The Cheshire Cat is a brilliant, memorable character in the book and film; and I've seen many designs of the Cheshire Cat; even John Tenniel's illustration and the recent Tim Burton version by Stephen Fry; and I'm not too keen on the Tenniel illustration of the Cat; or the Burton design, but I think the cartoon design in this film is   definitely the Cheshire Cat; because he was always has that cheeky grin on his face and stripy; and it's design is so like the character; and I've always liked the mischievous grin (because you know he's probably up to something), and it's so exaggerated! He's a very wise character, and very intelligent and he's probably the most mischievous character of the creatures in Wonderland; and I think he's sort of a "villain", because he framed Alice in getting the blame by the Queen of Hearts, when the Cheshire Cat is sneakily suggesting to lose her temper, while poor Alice is so naive and says "no", while the Queen is so suspicious. Although,  when Alice insulted the Queen in the Trial sequence; the Queen asked calmly to Alice, "What did you call me?", and the Cheshire Cat spoils everything for Alice by remarking on what she said, and the Queen yelled, "Off with her head!"

The Cheshire Cat, is probably the most famous character in Alice in Wonderland and he's always remembered by the public, and even in the small city of Chester, England (where my dad was actually born), people from Chester are often referred to as "cheshire cats", and there's a pub there called "The Cheshire Cat";  I've been a fan of the character, and at times I had it as my background on my computer.

About the animation now:

To those who are familiar with that fact that Ward Kimball who is believed to have been long-recognized for working on the Cheshire Cat animation; and I knew you'd be surprised because Ward Kimball only animates that one scene in shot 50; and John Lounsbery animates the rest of the Cheshire Cat in this sequence! See, I told you that John Lounsbery would be back; and according to the amount of scenes he animated on the draft: he animated a total of 97 scenes (I've not calculated the screen-footage yet), and that's not the end of Lounsbery in this film yet; he'll he back immediately!

Ward Kimball seems to have suddenly animated only one scene of the Cheshire Cat; maybe he was busy working on the Mad Hatter or Dum and Dee; I don't know-although John Lounsbery seems to have animated a whole lot more than Kimball and I don't know how he got the Cheshire Cat. Maybe Ward Kimball planned every shot, or did early pencil tests of the character, but gave the final scenes to John Lounsbery and he worked on them; THAT'S just a strict guess. However, looking at shot 50; it's completely more different than the Lounsbery scenes; John Lounsbery doesn't seem to give it all he's got and doesn't exaggerate the animation much; although he does use his usual squash-and-stretch routine, which he's known to use a lot.

I must say, I think Kimball's only scene in shot 50 is probably the best animation of the Cheshire Cat I've seen so far; to me I think it looks totally like Kimball's style here; and he certainly gives the cat a much wild look; and so much he has contributed to the cat in that 32ft scene. Here, I've got a few frame grabs and I've took a look at how much he did in that scene and so much acting he uses, and it's a real shame that we don't see him anymore.
Here is the frame grabs of Kimball's wild cat he gives - he looks like Lucifer the Cat in Cinderella which Kimball animated the character a year earlier. I think this is one of Kimball's best animation in the film; even though he may have animated very little in the film. I feel that John Lounsbery's cat just doesn't feel enough for a brilliant character; the acting is fine; it's just that I don't think he gives the character a wild enough look; and the Cheshire Cat is meant to look really mad in the film, as he points out "Most everyone's mad here." Although, I think shot 9 by John Lounsbery was amusing; although he just doesn't seem to have fun on it; giving what he has to give! While Kimball had a lot of fun on it!

I've noticed that when John Lounsbery animates the Chesire Cat, the colours on his head is violet; and in all the scenes, his head stays with a violet colour; and then when Ward Kimball takes over that small scene, the colour of his head slightly changes to purple. Here, I'll show the frames to enlarge it.

 John Lounsbery. Notice the colour of his head in the next frame.
Ward Kimball. He draws the character's snout a lot like Lucifer's.

There was a lot for me to talk about the Cheshire Cat animation; although not much for me on Alice; except a few things: that Marc Davis does the prime Alice scenes while Don Lusk mainly animates long-shots. Interesting that Lusk animates the Cheshire Cat invisible and his paw prints pop up!

Marc Davis' animation of Alice (as usual) is brilliant; and I love how he handled the character when she's confused, and I love how he handles her mouth; a lot of appeal. Shot 33 is just brilliant stuff; the acting is great, and the staging, and I love the scenes of Alice being frustrated by the Cheshire Cat. Don Lusk's animation is fine, except that he mainly animates long shots; and they're usually not the most important scenes; but I wonder how Lusk felt when he was animating the Chesire Cat's paw prints; unusual assignment for a character animator, and I thought that an effects artist would have done that sort of assignment.

However (as an anorak like me), the director is Clyde Geronomi, and the layout artist is Charles Philippi; and at the time Philippi was doing layouts for Ham Luske and most of his work in the film were directed by Ham Luske, and around that time, layout artist Hugh Hennesy worked with a lot of Geronomi for layouts (via Pecos Bill, Little Toot, Casey at the Bat, Ichabod Crane, etc.), and since Hugh Hennesy is not credited for any layouts in the film; and I was wondering if Philippi was a typo. Who knows, maybe Charles Philippi very well did layouts in this sequence, but this is a strict guess (again).

That's all folks - more to come next Friday! Stay tuned.


Zartok-35 said...

Tom Codrick was Geronimi's key layout man in this period, with occasional inserts of Don Griffith on the side, so Charles Phillipi does feel a little odd here. Charles Phillipi worked on quite a few things with Gerry back in 40s. If Hennesey does any work on Alice, it is being supervised by someone.

Eric Noble said...

Nice work. I'm guessing as the animation director, Ward Kimball planned the scenes out and Lounsbery finished them up. Great post.

Steven Hartley said...

Zartok - Yes, Codrick worked with a lot of Geronimi back them, and also Hennesy and a bit of Bob Cormack; although I never expected Philippi to come up! I say that Don Griffith was mainly working for Ham Luske, but did occassionally work for Geronimi.

Eric - that's probably what happened; although it's similar to what I said, that Ward had did early pencil tests and Lounsbery did the final scenes!