By now we’ve seen the stories that made us cry, that shaped who we are, that made us laugh. We have seen the impossible become possible; that dreams really do come true; that there is always something bigger or better; and that some, yes, live happily ever after. This is the magic of Disney, that brings us back every time.
The magic that found its roots in traditional animation, learned to embrace 3D animation, and changed fairy tales into live-action adventures; quite unlike anything ever seen before.
Over the next few months, I will explore the evolution of Disney, providing a closer look inside the films — from present to past — and possibly what else Walt Disney Studios has in store for the future.
PART I: Live Action
The Walt Disney Studios has a long history with live action films, which began in 1950 with Treasure Island, followed by the beloved classic Mary Poppins, and other features like Honey I Shrunk the Kids, The Mighty Ducks, and recently Pirates of the Caribbean. So venturing into live-action features is nothing new for the studio. However, adapting their animated classics into live-action films is relatively new and it all began with the success of the film Enchanted.
Enchanted, was a new endeavor by Disney released in 2007, based on the idea of happily ever after crossing from fantasy to real-life. The success of Enchanted allowed Disney to explore other fairytale adaptations for a new generation, leading to the current slate of upcoming films for release including: Into the Woods, Maleficent, and Cinderella.
For this part 1 series I will focus on Maleficent, which hits theater May 30, so be sure to see it!
Everyone knows and possibly loves the story of Sleeping Beauty, but what about the story of one of Disney’s greatest villains Maleficent. Was she really evil? If so, what turned her heart to stone? This is what the new film will hopefully finally answer for curious fans craving a twist on the beloved tale.
But alas we must wait . . . so until all is revealed on May 30th, I will focus on the costumes which in my opinion are just as iconic as Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman or Charlize Theron’s queen in Snow White and The Huntsman.
The costumes designed by Oscar nominated Anna B. Sheppard, who has worked on such films as Schindler’s List and The Pianist, based the costumes on medieval and renaissance period history and art, in addition to the original Disney designs by animator Marc Davis from the animated classic. From there Sheppard and Angelina Jolie, who plays Maleficent, created the look of the character alongside a brilliant team of designers.
You may notice that the costumes for Maleficent are very sculptural and reminiscent of Lady Gaga — one of the designers actually created pieces for the music artist in the past. As for the fabrics, they are a combination of “floaty” and heavier textiles including some furs, leathers, and feathers.
In short, this was a massive collaboration by a very talented group of designers, including Justin Smith, Rob Goodwin, and Manuel Albarran. The headwear was designed by milliner Justin Smith, with Jolie’s input and was inspired by turban or head wrap styles, animalistic elements, and rope knotting. Altogether there are six different headpieces seen throughout the film.
While the footwear was constructed by Rob Goodwin, who added reptilian and scale like influences into the designs. As for the accessories, collars, and final fight scene costume they were designed by Manuel Albarran who designed the spines you will see on Jolie’s character in the film.
Their work collectively created the dark, yet hauntingly beautiful and elegant Maleficent, that will surely be remembered for years to come.