I have seen and studied the film SLEEPING BEAUTY many times. there is not one background-painting that is not on style, has not enough, too much or the wrong detail. the film is in superwidescreen ( super technirama 70, that is a 70mm filmformat ) and the composition in every single scene is a masterpiece. not one part of the entire movie is colorwise out of place, everywhere the characters read perfect in their environment, and – these characters are all painted on cels, with matching color-outlines.
today it is so easy to color-correct digital images. imagine the challenge in the mid-fifties, imagine multi-layered multiplane scenes, where the character-colors had to be adjusted to the amount and green-shading of the glass layers in front. it is hard to believe, that all these visuals look flawless, perfectly controlled. and I am not even talking about the numerous background painters, who had to follow the style that EYVIND EARLE had developed.
he first needed to come up with a look and to paint all possible different locations in the film to give examples of the look of wood, stone, foilage, grass, rocks, trees, metal, pottery and more, so the team could follow and copy his style. I am sure he painted some hundred backgrounds. I know that he had an incredible knowledge of art-history, he knew paintings and styles from all over the world. without a knowledge like that you could not have the idea what different artforms to combine. these ingredients can be from areas far away, time- and locationwise. imagine – to mix medieval, gothic art from the 13th century with little details of persian-, japanese- and indian art, to create a forest that reminds you of the interior of a cathedral, and the grass fields of ancient tapestries.
some critics say the backgrounds are overpowering, dominate the look of the film. not for me. I think it is the perfect balance of a fantastic fairytale world, an operastage with flawless characterdesigns and animation. a true masterpiece and a piece of art that you won’t find anymore nowadays.
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