1 The Mickey Mindset: Disney Animation Reviews #16 - 101 Dalmatians

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #16 - 101 Dalmatians

Disney Animation Review: 17/53 - 101 Dalmatians

Ryan Dosier - Ah, 101 Dalmatians, released in 1961 it was the first Disney animated feature of the exciting new age of the 1960s. Right from the opening credits 101 Dalmatians stands out as stylistically and rhythmically different than anything Disney had done prior.

The art on the film is truly remarkable. The Dalmatians and humans are all rendered in spectacularly cartoony fashion. The designs resemble other animation styles of the 60s from studios such as Warner Bros. and MGM. 101 Dalmatians looks different from any Disney film produced before or after because of this intriguing style approach.

The film also benefits greatly from its fantastic London setting. Seeing the characters explore the iconic city drawn in such a stylistic way is delightful. Throughout the film we see the English country in winter, a London park, and London proper and it is all wonderful. True, the layouts and backgrounds don’t stand out as much as, say, Lady and the Tramp or Sleeping Beauty, but they are still functional and beautiful pieces of work.

The dog characters in the film are all fairly similar, with Pongo being the only one who stands out as a real character based on his humorous actions in the film’s opening. Pongo is a scamp who becomes a father and we witness that on the screen perfectly.

The human characters are the true surprise of the film. Cruella De Vil, especially, is a perfect villain. She has flair and style and exudes evil. There are not many Disney villains as crazy and driven by sheer madness as Cruella. Having her inspire the fantastic song of the same name is just icing on the deliciously wicked cake. Her henchmen, Horace and Jasper, are also extremely entertaining, providing most of the laughs in the movie with physical comedy and witty banter like, “We’ll have ‘em finished before you can say Bob’s your uncle!”

Even the more minor characters, like the put-upon cat Sergeant Tibbs, are enjoyable. Throughout it all, the dynamite Disney character animation excels. All of the animals move with realism not seen since Lady and the Tramp and the humans move in hilariously cartoonish ways. Clearly the dogs are the more real, heroic characters in the film.

The story is bursting with exciting and riveting sequences. From the initial meeting of humans Roger and Anita set up by Pongo, to the “Twilight Bark,” to the rescue of the puppies from Hell Hall, to the nerve-wracking escape right in front of Cruella’s eyes, all the way up to the staggering car chase, 101 Dalmatians is packed with excitement and heart. It is truly one of Disney’s best story efforts.

101 Dalmatians ushered in the 1960s at Disney animation, a period which was plagued by tragedy and budget cuts. While most of the animation in the 60s faltered, there are a few charming masterpieces like 101 Dalmatians to make it a truly wonderful period in Disney Animated Feature history.

4/5 Dalmatian Plantations

1 comment:

  1. A personal favorite film of mine and one that I hope gets inducted to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.