Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Wizard's Duel

The Wizard's duel sequence is a part of "The Sword in the Stone", the movie that edged out Chanticleer in the early 1960ies.
This brilliant sequence is the brainchild of story man Bill Peet, who boarded the entire film by himself. Peet started out by doodling character situations and dialogue ideas on note paper sheets.
After polishing the continuity with endless beautiful story sketches, it was up to Milt Kahl to take a look at  Bill's boards as an inspiration for final animation designs.
As so often the combined talents of these two extraordinary men produced some very inspired situations and great looking characters.
The image above is one of my favorite Kahl drawings. You see Peet's influence in the staging, but Picasso is sneaking in, too. Look at the croc's hands, fantastic!

These early sketches show Bill Peet's brain at work. He is a master of personality development.
Check out the written list of animals Merlin and Mim could turn into to best oppose each other.
Below are some of his story sketches. As you can imagine, the animators couldn't wait to work on such a sequence that was ideal for the medium.

The following color model sketches by Milt Kahl are stunning.
There are a few animal designs that didn't make the final cut, my favorite is the Mim stork. That's a character  I would love to animate. 
As usual Milt's draughtsmanship takes the material to another level. Ironically he did not animate on the sequence. When asked what he thought about the final result in the film, he just commented: "As so often, when work leaves my desk, gravity gets a hold of it."
I respectfully disagree. The sequence remains one of the highlights of the film.