Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Little John

This is a scene animated by Milt Kahl from the opening sequence of Robin Hood. I just realized that this film premiered 50 years ago! When it opened in Germany I found out that an art gallery in Cologne exhibited a fair number of original production cels. Of course I had to pay a visit, and in that gallery I saw Disney cels for the very first time. It was fascinating to observe that the colors on the cels differed a little from what I had seen on a movie screen. They actually looked a bit duller. Much later I found out that when photographed under a camera at Disney, the strong overhead lights really punched up the colors.

Anyway, this animation follows a moment when Robin Hood had just thrown an arrow through Little John's hat and into the tree trunk. "Watch it Rob, that's the only hat I've got!" he complains.

I had he opportunity to discuss the overall sequence with Ollie Johnston, who co-animated it with Milt. Ollie thought that Milt exaggerated the dialogue in this scene too much. Every vowel is drawn with a wide open mouth. By contrast Ollie's dialogue scenes with Little John show more restraint. His mouth shapes are relatively small. An audience would never see those different approaches. You'd have to be a geek to catch something like this. And that's what I am...