Rumours about Rapunzel have been circling the internet for many years now, and slowly the excitement inside me has been growing to a fever pitch that now threatens to explode at the merest mention of the film.
Why am I so excited? Because Glen Keane; THE Glen Keane, the master animator responsible for Aladdin, Tarzan, Ariel, and above all the Beast, is directing. If that’s not enough to transform any self respecting animator in to a puddle of excitement then frankly I don’t know what is.
Glen Keane has always been my favourite animator. Even when I had no idea that the same guy animated so many of my favourite characters, they still stood above the rest as examples of perfect characterization and life. It’s Tarzan and the Beast that particularly impress – watch the way they move, so powerful, so controlled and so perfectly fitting their personalities and histories. They aren’t particularly vocal characters either, so all of their emotion and storytelling had to come from the animation.
Tarzan is defined by how he moves, more than how he speaks. It’s like Bambi. There are scenes in Bambi where there is no dialog. There’s just a deer moving. And it stops. It’s ears move. It turns. It’s fascinating watching the deer move. With Tarzan, a story sketch may have shown him going from here to there, but it was the actual animation of going from here to there that was a beautiful thing to watch; to see him move like an animal. It brought Tarzan to life.
Even though Keane is no longer directing the film (Nathan Greno and Brian Howard (from Bolt) took over directing duties in 2009) he has still been responsible for the unique visuals of the film, and developing the technology to help them realise his dreams for a fully textured 3d environment based on the art of Jean-Honoré Fragonard. By using non-photorealistic rendering, the movie will seem almost painted on the screen, while still allowing the depth and three-dimensional aspects of modern animation.
“The Swing,” by French Rococo artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard.
So the film is 3D, but it’s been made to look like it’s 2D. Here’s some of the concept art that Disney have released for the film that they’ve described as… “a stunning CG fantasy world complete with the iconic tower, an evil witch, a gallant hero and, of course, the mysterious girl with the long golden tresses. Expect adventure, heart, humor, and hair, lots of hair.”
It’s due out this summer, and I guess I have little choice but to wait until then. It’s worth mentioning that Glen Keane has a wonderful blog which has sketches and frames from all of his most famous creations. I can’t recommend the site enough to any aspiring animator, his pencil sketches alone are well worth checking out.
He’s written a book called ‘Creating Characters With Personality’, which gives detailed advice from the master and is available from all good bookstores. There’s also new book by him called ‘The Art of the Disney Princess’ which I haven’t actually read yet (although my birthday is coming up, and full details can be found on my wishlist). I’m sure it will be well worth a perusal.