rose of baghdad

30 06 2010

LA ROSA DI BAGDAD ( THE ROSE OF BAGHDAD ) is a 1949 released italian animated feature film, directed by ANTON GINO DOMENEGHINI, music by RICCARDO PICK MANGIALLI. in the sixties the film was dubbed into english and released as THE SINGING PRINCESS ( still available at amazon ). inspired by the 1001 ARABIAN NIGHTS stories there are several interesting movies, like in animation – THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED 1926 lotte reiniger, 1001 ARABIAN NIGHTS 1959 UPA, THE THIEF AND THE COBBLER 1995 richard williams and ALADDIN 1992 disney, as well as numerous live action films like THE THIEF OF BAGDAD 1924 douglas fairbanks, THE THIEF OF BAGDAD 1940 michael powell, ARABIAN NIGHTS 1942 maria montez, THE GOLDEN BLADE 1952 rock hudson, THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD 1958 ray harryhausen and LES 1001 NUITS 1990 catherine zeta-jones. below is my recreated opening pan from LA ROSA DI BAGDAD.

© fiorella domeneghini

german illustration 7

28 06 2010

some more of the illustrations DIETER LANGE created during the seventies and eighties for the children’s page STERNCHEN in the german weekly magazine STERN. he came up with a different style for every story he illustrated, all black/white and line art, pen+ink and pencil.

© dieter lange / STERN – gruner&jahr

style 8.3

25 06 2010

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.

© disney enterprises, inc

style 8.2

24 06 2010

EYVIND EARLE wrote in his autobiography – HORIZON BOUND ON A BICYCLE

‘I knew I was going to style SLEEPING BEAUTY, as well as paint all the key backgrounds, and all I had to do was to do it in my own style. how utterly simple it was going to be for me. at home I began practicing doing SLEEPING BEAUTY’S forest scenes. after all, my favorite artists were ALBRECHT DUERER and VAN EYCK and BRUEGEL, and all GOTHIC ART, and the HOURS of the DUKE DE BERRY. the whole project fit me like a glove. AL DEMPSTER told me it wasn’t fair of me to practice on my own time at home, but after all, I had been trying to get into disney for fifteen years, all during which AL DEMPSTER, CLAUDE COATS and RALPH HULETT had been making a good living while I struggled and struggled. now it was my turn to show them what I could do…

JOHN HENCH had just about finished two masterful drawings in black/white of two forest scenes. they were given to me to paint as I wished. JOHN HENCH’S renderings were renaissance rokoko to my mind. I wanted stylized simplified gothic. straight tall perpendicular lines like gothic cathedrals. the figures should be straight and tall and thinned out and elongated like gothic sculpture…

…I took JOHN HENCH’S masterpieces and straightened up the curving, bending, winding trees. I used one-point perspective. I rearranged the bushes and trees in geometrical patterns. I made a medieval tapestry out of the surface I possible. all my foregrounds were tapestry designs of decorative weeds and flowers and grasses. and since it is obvious that the gothic style and detail evolved from the arabic influence aquired during the crusades, I found it perfectly permissible to use all the wonderful patterns and details found in PERSIAN MINIATURES. and since persian miniatures had a lot in common with chinese and japanese art, I felt it was ok for me to inject quite a bit of japanese art, especially in the close up of leaves and overhanging branches…

…and then, since everything came from nature in the first place anyway, I started taking close-up photographs of every different bush or tree I could find in the san fernando valley, and then took VAN EYCK, and PETER BRUEGEL, and ALBRECHT DUERER, and BOTTICELLI, and THE HOURS OF THE DUKE DE BERRY, and the PERSIANS and JAPANESE and GOTHIC ART, and on top of that I injected a little piece of EYVIND EARLE. wherever my taste lead me is where I wandered in my search for the perfect styling of SLEEPING BEAUTY.’

tomorrow the final chapter.

© disney enterprises, inc

style 8.1

23 06 2010

EYVIND EARLE was born 1916 in new york city, but moved already after two years with his parents to hollywood. his father, ferdinand, was a professional painter who had studied with ADOLPHE WILLIAM BOUGUEREAU and ABBOTT McNEILL WHISTLER. he soon became a busy art director and scenic artist in hollywood. from early on eyvind was educated by his father in the arts. when he was ten the parents divorced and eyvind followed his father on longer trips to mexico and europe. already after a few years, age 14, he was good enough to have his own art show in southern france. later at the age of 21 he crossed the northern american continent on his bike, painting a watercolor on each of the 42 days it took him. already three years later the metropolitan museum of art bought one of his watercolors for its permanent collection. the same year eyvind started his own christmas card company, printing them as serigraphs. 1951 he joined disney as a background painter, working on FOR WHOM THE BULLS TOIL, MELODY and TOOT,WHISTLE, PLUNK AND BOOM. finally he was offered the position as production designer, color stylist and background painter for SLEEPING BEAUTY. paralell during that time he designed for the shorts PIGS IS PIGS, GRAND CANYONSCOPE, PAUL BUNYAN and LONDON BRIDGE. he colorstyled the night/park sequence in LADY AND THE TRAMP and designed 5 murals for disneyland. in 1958 he left disney and started his own company, producing commercials and title graphics, as well as the logo trademark trailer for universal pictures. later in his life he dedicated all his time to painting, becoming very successful with exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world. in 2000 he passed away, 84 years old.

I want to concentrate in this post and the next ones on EYVIND EARLE’S unparalelled stylistic design for SLEEPING BEAUTY. from what I have heard from artists they worked with him, he must have been a very difficult character to deal with, very demanding. well – look at all the designs and BG-paintings he created for SLEEPING BEAUTY! masterpieces! usually I am not a big fan of extremely detailed backgrounds, but in this case it is different. all the detail in his artwork works as a texture like in the medieval gobelins. he was very careful with the design of these textured elements, like the plants and trees in the forest, the interior of the cottage or the stone walls in the kings castle and the different more mossy walls in maleficent’s ruins, that the paintings never feel overworked. on the contrary, they are the perfect stage for the very designed and less detailed characters. the color-combinations throughout the whole film are some of the most beautiful and tasteful in animation.

© disney enterprises, inc


22 06 2010

in 1989 the merchandise for the comic strip- and TV-series THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF THE DUCK ALFRED J.KWAK boomed. at times there were about 400 articles on the market. HARALD SIEPERMANN and I could hardly follow up with all the extra illustrations we had to finish as well as the corrections of illustrations from merchandise clients illustrators. for a while it was not fun at all. and sometimes some of our own favorite ideas got shelved, like a calendar – some of the calendar sheets below.

wilhelm m.busch 10

18 06 2010

1974 WILHELM M.BUSCH illustrated EMILE ZOLA’SLA FORTUNE DES ROUGON ( THE FORTUNE OF THE ROUGON FAMILY ), written in 1871 and the first novel in EMILE ZOLA’S monumental twenty-volume series LES ROUGON-MAQUART. busch used a ballpoint pen for the illustrations and added some watered ink for grey shades. below is a selection.

© wilhelm m.busch / bertelsmann verlag, 1974, ‘das glueck der familie rougon’