Original Production Animation Cel of Madame Medusa from "The Rescuers," 1977
Original hand-painted production animation cel of Madame Medusa from "The Rescuers," 1977, Walt Disney Studios; Numbered 29 in ink lower right; Set on a lithographic background; Size - Madame Medusa: 8 1/2 x 5 1/2", Image 10 x 13"; Unframed.
"But if I don't get back to the orphanage... I'll never get adopted." - Penny
"Adopted? What makes you think anyone would want a homely little girl like you?" - Madame Medusa
"The Rescuers" is an animated feature film produced by Walt Disney Productions; and was released on June 22, 1977 by Buena Vista Distribution. The film is based on a series of books by Margery Sharp, most notably "The Rescuers and Miss Bianca." The 23rd film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film is about the Rescue Aid Society; an international mouse organization headquartered in New York; and shadowed the United Nations. The Rescue Aid Society, a mouse based group, was dedicated to helping abduction victims around the world at large. Two of these mice, jittery janitor Bernard (voiced by Bob Newhart) and his co-agent, the elegant Miss Bianca (voiced by Eva Gabor), set out to rescue Penny, an orphan girl being held prisoner in the Devil's Bayou by treasure huntress Madame Medusa.
Early designs for Medusa were done by Ken Anderson, there were even discussions about bringing back Cruella deVil from "101 Dalmatians" as the villain; but that was eventually abandoned. The character of Medusa was eventually created and although there are many similarities with Cruella (thin build, similar cars, appear wealthy, bad tempers, cry upon realizing that they have lost, etc.), Medusa is still quite distinct with her wild red hair, sagging breasts, green eyes, and lots and lots of makeup. Her ultimate goal in the film is to possess the Devil's Eye, the world's largest diamond. Milt Kahl was given the task of animating Medusa and it is known that one his inspirations was his ex-wife. Kahl's brilliance in animation is really showcased with this character and many point to the scene where she is removing her false eyelashes as proof of his technical skill.
The next three paragraphs are from veteran Walt Disney animator Andreas Deja:
"When Milt Kahl was asked in an interview if he had a favorite character he animated, his response was: "Oh I enjoyed a few, I just loved doing Madame Mim, Shere Khan was a lot of fun, and so were the butler and old lawyer in 'Aristocats'. But I guess I enjoyed Medusa more than any one of them." And it shows. His last animation assignment at Disney -just like Marc Davis's- was a tour de force of character acting. It was a "I'm going to give it all" feel to it.
Marc told me that Milt promised him, Medusa will "wipe his Cruella off the screen". Then he added with a chuckle: "Of course that didn't happen". So there was definitely a friendly competition going on between these two great animators and their characters. Milt sort of designed Medusa's features opposite from Cruella's. Cruella has small nose, Medusa's is longer. Cruella's hair parts in the middle, Medusa's off to one side. Cruella has a pointy jaw, Medusa is almost chin less etc.
I have to admit, when I first saw Medusa in "The Rescuers" in a London theater, I couldn't believe my eyes. So much inventiveness in her drawing and motion. How on earth can you show an animated character removing her make up? Wasn't that something only a live actress could pull off...but in animation? Incredible! I have spent way too much time studying this character, on the other hand I think I got a lot out of it. Dialogue, graphic but dimensional drawing and just being gutsy in general."
This is an original production animation cel of Madame Medusa sitting in front of her dressing mirror removing her makeup as Penny stands nearby. Medusa is trying to convince Penny to stay on the swamp boat so that she could help find the Devil's Eye Diamond. Penny asks "But if I don't get back to the orphanage... I'll never get adopted." Medusa responds, "Adopted? What makes you think anyone would want a homely little girl like you?" This is a wonderful cel of Medusa, she is eyes and mouth open as she tilts her head back to deliver one of the meanest lines of dialog in the film. A great addition to any animation art collection!
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