Sunday, April 28, 2024

Aristocats Art

People don't talk much about the art direction for The Aristocats. I think it is beautiful. After the conventional, painterly backgrounds for The Jungle Book the Disney team decided to go back to a more graphic look with black line work. Earlier 101 Dalmatians and The Sword in the Stone had started this trend. When you have amazing background artists like Al Dempster, Bill Layne and Ralp Hulett you can be assured to have terrific art no matter what the style may be. 

A Ken Anderson development sketch.

The human characters still blow me away. Milt Kahl designed and animated them realistically, but their anatomy shows sophisticated, simplified graphic designs.

John Lounsbery helped Milt with the animation of Edgar, the butler. as well as the old lawyer George Hautecourt.

I believe this is a Frank Thomas scene.

Currently there is no good version of The Aristocats to watch anywhere. The film looks unrecognizable in its over-restored state. The old DVD still has a somewhat authentic look.

Backgrounds Disney ARL, cels Heritage Auctions.



  1. Looks like the old Iron Lady pulled her zipper up a tad too high

  2. Why on earth do they over restore these films? Some restored versions are absolutely unwatchable imo, like Pinocchio and Dumbo. And now with streaming services they are often the only versions available, and new generations will never see the beauty of the originals. Since Disney loves to repackage and resell old films a million times, they should make an "authentic" line where its just a straight forward film transfer. And they could ofcourse keep restoring them to hell and sell those too but at least there would be a good version available somewhere for those of us who care.

  3. Afternoon, Mr. Deja.

    Though I only happened upon your blog recently, I’ve been a fan of your contributions to Disney for a long time.

    I host a blog of my own looking at film as a whole, but I do love to spotlight Disney animation when the opportunity presents itself. I’ve come across one such opportunity with The Lion King’s 30th anniversary this summer.

    I’m prepping a piece looking at the movie’s development and would love some insight from someone who worked on the film. If you’re in the business of having your brain picked, I’d be grateful for the assistance.

    Either way, thank you for all you've given to animation.

  4. The artwork is really beautiful in this film, thanks for highlighting it. Was live action references used for the animation?

  5. Although uncredited, two additional background artists, Dick Kelsey and Ann Guenther most likely contributed to this film.

  6. I think that I prefer the thicker painting style used in Dalmatians and the Sword in the Stone, but this lighter style is a nice fit for light hearted films like Aristocats and Robin Hood.

    But man, I would love if they could get the older films to look like scans of the artwork. I know that they painted with the film stock in mind, and all that, but seeing the physical artwork is so great

  7. Es ist die plakative Art der Restauration, die ich sehr bedauerlich finde. Da sind nicht nur die feinen Striche, die für eine Tiefenschärfe und Lebendigkeit gesorgt haben abgedeckt worden sondern auch Effekte, wie bei der blauen Fee, so verfälscht worden...Zumindest bei Robin Hood wurde versucht durch Helligkeitsabstufungen dem plakativen Eindruck entgegen zu wirken.
    Selbstverständlich habe ich nichts gegen Restauration. Aber dann eher punktuell anstatt abdeckend und natürlich im Kinoformat, damit wieder das sichtbar wird, was fürs Homekinoformat damals weggeschnitten wurde.
    Das dürfte aber teuer werden, vermute ich mal und könnte über den regulären Blue Ray Verkauf und den einfachen Abo Preisen nicht abgedeckt werden.

  8. I really like this movie, every once in a while the songs pop in my head. Even the French version they sing helped my pitiful grade go up a bit in French class. This movie is also a bit special to me because at Disney World many years ago, MGM Studios used to have a voice-acting show for guests - and my dad got to go up to voice a scene from this movie. His attempt at a British accent was so insanely bad, it's a fun memory.