One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)

G   |    |  Animation, Adventure, Comedy


One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) Poster

When a litter of Dalmatian puppies are abducted by the minions of Cruella de Vil, the parents must find them before she uses them for a diabolical fashion statement.


7.2/10
148,506

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15 February 2000 | Spleen
8
| A new look
A large part of Disney's triumph cannot be detected by the naked eye. His last animated film had been `Sleeping Beauty', which was the most extravagant and spectacular animated film of all time (excluding `Fantasia'). It wasn't a financial success. `101 Dalmatians', much less extravagant, was. In the two years between `Sleeping Beauty' and its successor there had been a revolution. The entire army of inkers who had carefully translated animators' pencil drawings into smooth, flowing lines were replaced by a machine that simply photocopied. This changed the character of animation so much that `Dalmatians' is almost the precise opposite of `Beauty'. Outlines are rough and black; the entire film looks decidedly drawn rather than painted, even the bits that are in fact painted; and the rich variety of colour of Disney's earlier films has been replaced with the stark white-with-black-spots coat of a dalmatian, with the occasional splash of startling red. The art directors were as determined to get the most out of the new technology as they had been to get the most out of the old technology.

And it has its own quiet extravagance. A title promising over one hundred spotted dogs was (probably still is) the kind of thing liable to make animators feel faint. It couldn't have been done without the photocopier; and even so, getting spots to stay in the right place on a featureless white background is a huge headache. None of this leaps out an audience. We simply see a hundred adorable dogs.

The story is simple, clean, civilised, and warm. It moves slowly but this doesn't matter. Preventing the film from becoming lethargic is Cruella de Vil. She can drive like a maniac through the snow, smoke a cigarette through a holder the length of a sword, wave her arms like a windmill ... yet she handles quiet determination and gritted teeth equally well. Character animation doesn't get any better than this.

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