Saturday, 18 December 2010

Alice in Wonderland Mosaic: Part 13

Here is my new installment for Alice in Wonderland: Part 13 - directed by Ham Luske; sadly we are getting near the end, but the fun's not over yet. :)

This is in fact my favourite sequence in this film. I love this sequence so much: brilliant animation, brilliant songs and Oliver Wallace score, brilliant art direction and layouts; and the characters in there are just superb to watch; and most of the animation for Alice is really appealing; and I like that!

Alice has now gone through the shortcut (already had enough of the Wonderland characters persecuting her); and only being stranded through a complicating maze; until she hears singing and humming voices; and notices something unusual: red paint! She then sees a group of cards; who are painting white roses red; and she asks them "why?", and the Cards reply that they accidentally planted the roses with the wrong colours, and the fact that the Queen of Hearts loves her roses red; and orders that any rose that's planted wrong would get executed; and the Cards rather paint the roses than lose their own lives. Alice (then) supports the Cards by helping them paint the roses as well; until the Queen's guards march down; and the Card Painters are in danger, THE QUEEN! As a result, the Queen of Hearts is very suspicious and discovers that the Cards have sneakily painted the roses red; and ordered them to be executed. Alice tries to explain what happened; but is interrupted by the Queen and makes her tag along in a game of croquet.

The Queen of Hearts; is a great, evil, fun character to see in this Disney production; I really like that character a lot, even though she's got an evil personality; and after all; she's a villain! She's short-tempered, snobbish, energetic and very impatient. She's got the brilliant personality for a villain; she's sly and very suspicious; and while she was walking past, and then immediately noticed red paint dripping down from the red-painted rose; and became all suspicious, "Who's been painting my roses red?!", while she's walking down with an "ELEPHANT WALK", you can tell from her evil grin in her face that she's up to no good. The scenes with the Queen being suspicious is similar to the chapter "Who Stole the Tarts?", when during the trial when she asks the chosen victims on who ate her tarts; and it's similar to "who painted by roses red?". Her voice by Verna Felton (who provided many voices for Disney), suits the voice for the Queen. All the Queen likes to do; and is really only interested in executing people, and she's very famous for her and repeated line, "Off with their/her/his/heads!", and that's what she likes to say, when someone makes a simple mistake, and executes people straight away without going through trial, yet.

What I find interesting is the fact; that the Queen of Hearts; is shown that everyone has to obey her; and she's really popular, and when she's in public settings; the crowds go wild; while the Queen's spouse; The King of Hearts appears to be less popular than the Queen; because in shot 45 that explains your answer. The King thinks he's the most important and royal; and tries to think that he is; and is really unpopular; and even the White Rabbit said enthusiastically to the royal Queen; and the King had tapped the Rabbit's shoulder thinking, "and?", and the White Rabbit groans, "and the King". The King tips his hat; and there's only one "Hooray"; I've always found that scene amusing.

The songs "Painting the Roses Red", is a cheerful song to listen to and I like the tunes a lot; and the singing cards were performed by the Mellomen; with voices by Don Barclay, and they did a wonderful performance, and they do deserve credit for their great work.

Animation breakdown: Alice here is mainly animated by Ollie Johnston (beginning and ending scenes), and Alice and the Painting the Roses Red song by Hal Ambro and Don Lusk; a few scenes by Harvey Toombs and Eric Larson. The Queen of Hearts is animated all by Eric Larson; except scenes by Harvey Toombs, and Eric Larson does a few shared scenes with Alice in it. Card painters by Hal King, Phil Duncan, Judge Whitaker and Hugh Fraser. With the marching cards by George Rowley and Judge Whitaker.

I love the Cards animation a lot in this sequence; that's why they're a highlight to this sequence as well as this film; and the timing and staging fits really well; and it must've been difficult to animate them and make them walk; because we all know that cards is just a 2-dimensional object; and of course; in the film they are 2-D, and very flat; but they have to move to make it real; and that's why it must have been a task for the animators working on them.

The scenes of the Cards painting; by Hal King, Phil Duncan and Hugh Fraser (who we haven't seen for a while), do some fine stuff on the Painting the Roses Red song; and I like how they communicate with there paint-brushes, and keep on splatting paint all over each other; and notice how Alice who was involved in the painting and the panic; and she doesn't seem to get any red stains on her dress at all! Although, my favourite animation of the Cards; is probably the "marching cards" scenes.

Why? Because of it's beautiful Mary Blair art direction and laid out by Ken O'Connor; and it was wonderfully staged and timed; and beautifully crafted; and I love the music to it a lot; with the marching cards; and the musical score to it is just superb; and it fits with what's happening; and I love the Cards whistling and the score to it is memorable and I think it's one of the other reasons why it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Musical Score back in 1951.

I've looked at a scene for Shot 31 - animated by Judge Whitaker (one of the underrated animators), and I like the scene so much; and it must've been difficult to stage; with three or four rows of cards marching; and the fact that it was done on paper; and they had to get it right; which was one of the difficulties of staging. I wonder how Whitaker achieved this?

We don't know too much on Judge Whitaker do we? Alberto's Page name him as Judge W. Whitaker, and it says that he was born on 30 September 1908, and his career at Disney traces back in roughly 1939, when he was working on Donald Duck; and eventually moving on to features like Make Mine Music, Melody Time, Cinderella, Peter Pan and (of course) Alice in Wonderland. It says that Whitaker left after Peter Pan, and then set up his own studio named "WHITAKER" and became a director and producer for religious films throughout the 1960's. It is believed that he died on 1 November 1985.

This info is from Alberto's page, but I've noticed a long, fully detailed article about Judge Whitaker on the Internet Movie Database on his profile; and that's worth the read... They have a very interesting trivia about his name: When at the age 8 or 9 an older brother started using the name "Judge" to tease him, comparing him with the local Justice of the Peace, apparently a homely little man. After repeated use, the kids in the neighborhood started using it and the nickname stuck. Although originally hating it, Wetzel became so used to this name that he used it in screen credits throughout his career at Walt Disney Productions, only reverting to "Wetzel O. Whitaker" in the credits of Brigham Young University productions. He was known throughout his life as "Judge" by family, friends and fellow film folk.

The Alice animation is brilliant; and Ollie Johnston really takes control of Alice in this sequence, as well as animating the King of Hearts (voiced by Dink Trout), and Alice feels like she's older and a teenager in this sequence (and the croquet game sequence), she seems like she's grown, although the only animators that appear to animate Alice as she is young are Don Lusk and Hal Ambro; who animate a younger Alice; while Johnston and Toombs animate a slightly older and taller Alice, but not a lot of difference, really.

The Queen of Hearts is brilliantly animated by Eric Larson and Harvey Toombs, and brilliantly voiced by Verna Felton. I like the animation out of them; although you are probably familiar of Frank Thomas being credited for the animation, and recognized for animating the character (well; he will come back on, with a lot of animation), but Eric Larson's Queen is just underrated in this film; although we know that Larson animated the Caterpillar (as he was long-recognized before), and he did some good animation of Alice and Dinah; but him animating the Queen is an interesting assignment for the animal animator, but he does do a great job. The scenes he animated of the Queen with the famous line that she repeats over and over, "Off with their heads!", and Larson puts a lot of weight into the character and it's very lively and energetic!

Although, some scenes of Alice or the Queen of Hearts; sometimes put me off or unpleasant to watch, or that I take a complete close look at, and I'm going to show two frames from two separate scenes, one scene with Alice; and the other with the Queen of Hearts.

Here is Shot 67 animated by Ollie Johnston. I always found the scene very unpleasant to watch; because of the way her mouth was exaggerated and the way that Ollie made her mouth really chubby. That scene has really put me off from the start; and I'd rather be more comfortable watching her mouth stretching and none of the cheeks stuff! Although, maybe Ollie was just doing what he was told; or did several pencil tests for that shot; and chose this as the most improved scene.

Here is shot 46.2 animated by Eric Larson. The scene doesn't put me off; but it's something that confuses me a lot; and that I can't follow through; and when the Queen touches a bit of red paint on her finger, and about to accuse people; and what I find strange; and it's JUST ME, it's not the animation problem. I always feel that when the Queen is glaring at the red paint; I always felt her left eye was popping out because it really looks like it's popping out to get a better look at the flower. Although, that's not really what's happening; it's just her huge, curvy collar; but it always got me thinking; and that's what I find clever; Larson handling a shot with her collar when her eye isn't popping out at all!

I must say that the Art Direction by Mary Blair is wonderful, and most of the shots with the backgrounds certainly has the Blair style and it really looks like she did layouts for this sequence; even though she was the stylist for the film. The layout artist, would look at Blair's artwork for a sequence, and they would have to carefully have to use her style for the sequence; and they have to get every single bit of detail from Blair correct; and it must've been difficult to follow and draw the style for Mary Blair.

Well, I must say; that now Ham Luske steps off the film; and the rest of the sequences and film is directed by Wilfred Jackson.


Eric Noble said...

Very interesting. I love this scene as well. I love the little "hooray" done in the Mickey Mouse falsetto. Funny.

It's interesting to see how the different animators draw Alice. Ollie Johnston does a better job here than in previous scenes. I like the work of Hal Ambro here. He does a wonderful job. The only minor complaint I have is that they draw Alice like a mini-teenager, when puberty is a few years off for her.

Well done.

Steven Hartley said...

Couldn't have agreed more ;)