Friday, March 1, 2013

After the Tango...



…these two characters show different states of mind.
Madame Bonfamille is a little exhausted and relieved that the frolic has come to an end, while Georges Hautecourt keeps on boogieing.
The dance was his idea anyway, and you can see Madame's initial reaction on the xeroxed cel above. 
Xeroxed scenes, especially when drawn this rough, only work for me when draughtsmanship and animation are outstanding. That's certainly the case here, because the artist is Milt Kahl.
Milt portrays Madame with elegance and French charm while the decrepit lawyer is still very much young at heart. 
Their degree of caricature might vary, but there is a unity in the character design that makes them work together. And of course the contrast in their personalities allows for interesting character animation.
Sure, here and there Milt might have overused a head nod or shake in his acting, but on the whole this is a remarkable sequence within the opening of The Aristocats. 
The idea to have these two seniors break into dance while they reminisce about old times is wonderful to watch.

Below are copies of key drawings from the scene that shows the tango coming to an end.
The characters were drawn on different levels, I combined them here to show the full composition. There is a lot of goodness to study here: 
The definition and overlap of clothing in the lawyer's jacket as well as Madame's dress and boa. 
Hautecourt's knee wobble after each foot contact, and some daring facial perspectives. 
All this was done without any live action reference.















15 comments:

  1. Wow, for me this is one of the highlights of the film, the characters are so engaging. One question, the rough style seems premeditated, did he tell you any particular reason he wanted that way. I love how it looks, but it is a different style from how he draw Shere Khan for example.

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  2. During the Xerox years Milt always preferred (sometimes insisted on)
    having his drawings almost untouched, because he felt that by tying them down too much they loose life.
    For the most part Shere Khan was tied down much more by assistant Dave Michener. That might have been the director's call.

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  3. There is a certain beauty in 'unpolished' looking work. It is always wonderful to see how characters are built.

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    1. Agreed. It also gives off a warm feeling that only hand drawn can do in my opinion.

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  4. I love the line-style they used in the Aristocats. To be able to see animators rough lines bouncing around behind the inked lines is wonderful.
    They tried hard to achieve a hand-drawn look in John Khars' Paperman, but no CG process could replicate this style. I wish they had done the following film (Robin Hood)the same.

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  5. I find this scene interesting since it's the only part of the movie that I see a different model for Duchess. Ollie's (please correct me if I'm wrong) is much softer and Milt's here seems much more anatomical. The three figures together have such a nice rhythm and so much personality as they dance around. Masterful!

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  6. Did Walt eventually accept the xerox process? I saw some of the interviews with Ken Anderson regarding 101 Dalmatians and how he was traumatized by Walt's criticism of the unpolished look. Just curious.

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    1. I think the fact that Dalmatians was a huge hit helped Walt to warm up to xeroxed characters. By the time Jungle Book came around though, he wanted the conventional soft background style with no xerox lines in them.

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  7. gif version here: http://25.media.tumblr.com/9f793b05fac5061b497e557e848c6e80/tumblr_mj27iyhUZM1qdbhwwo2_500.gif

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  8. In the final roughs it almost looks as though Madame has a cat's tail!

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  9. I love the fast-moving cane. It works so wonderfully. Excellent drawing and animation, as expected. I wish it were a good movie; there are so many beautiful sections and such fine animation. Performances by Meryl Streep, Laurence Olivier, Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh. If only . . .

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  10. I find it wonderfully symobolic that each character holds a symbol of what should keep them from dancing. The lawyer, his cane, representing his old age and ill health. Madame Bonfamille holds one of her cats, an embodiment of the grace and manners to which she's dedicated her life. Milt has offered a dance between two people who have every reason not to dance, and reminds us of this tension through ingeniously placed props.

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  12. Thanks so much for posting this, I heard also that Milt did Madame Madusa without any live action reference also. And I believe he animated many scenes of Sheer Khan without any reference also, drawing all the stripes on the tigers body out of his head. I believe it was Ollie or Frank that was very impressed by this. I would love to see more scenes that are done without the live action, it really is a great way to learn. I remember Jeffery katzenberg when making the Prince of Egypt told all the animators they could not use any live action, he believed there was no substitute for the natural life that comes just from the artist mind and hand. Sadly all though there was great work on the Prince of Egypt the characters in my opinion were designed to stiff and square with to many straight lines, the motion all though very smooth and original, at times still lacked the gesture and life you see in the Disney films.

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