Monday, February 24, 2014

Dramatic Dragon

Eric Cleworth animated Sleeping Beauty's  breathtaking dragon in pursuit of Prince Phillip. Woolie Reitherman directed this sequence, and both artists were able to infuse high drama into the film's climactic finish. I have the feeling that Marc Davis had something to do with the dragon's final design, since it it based on Maleficent, the character he animated. It is interesting to see that early designs were influenced by the anatomy of a dinosaur. (This might have been Woolie's idea, who had animated a dinosaur fight in Fantasia). 
I am not sure if these are Cleworth's drawings, but they sure are powerful and show a great sense for design and animal body structure. 

The widescreen format was perfect for this type of a battle, you could actually show the entire dragon on the screen. And those sound effects are just incredible.


  1. Easily one of the most iconic showdowns ever animated. Inspiring stuff as always Andreas!

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  3. I think the score by George Bruns-- some short time after the escape from the Forbidden Mountain-- is also worth noting. It makes what's already an impressively composed, masterfully animated sequence even more exciting as it progresses. During my first viewing of the film at 11 I was left on pins and needles by the time Philip neared the end of the cliff, and I'm pretty sure the music had a lot to do with that. (Kind of like watching "Jaws" without the score of John Williams-- it's just not the same.)

    Still one of my absolute favorite sequences in any of Disney's features, and it's great to see these drawings from it!

  4. the film is massive, fantastic and impressive... and all of this made in 1959!
    Thank you for sharing!

  5. This sequence was story boarded by Ken Anderson in 1957. Ken was nice enough to pitch it to us young kids one evening. This was even before he showed the boards to Walt.

  6. I just stumbled on your blog after looking at some different art and animation blogs and I'm so glad I did because I'm currently looking to apply for an internship at Walt Disney Animation Studios (I'm a student at UCLA) and I've been involved in art for a few years but I'm pretty new to the whole storyboard and animation aspect of art and I was wondering if you had any tips for my portfolio? Any help would be great, thank you :)

    1. Tiffany,
      Disney is pretty good when it comes to telling applicants what's required in a portfolio. Go to their website, there should be some info that you might find useful. You could also contact them for specific questions.

  7. I thought I was the only one geeky enough to love the sound effects of Sleeping Beauty. My fave is the tip of Maleficent's stick striking the flagstones.

  8. Still one of the best cinematic dragon designs. I hope they get it right in the new Malificent film?