"Walt Disney Pictures' 35th full-length animated feature, "Hercules", is
an epic comedy and the Studio's first animated film to draw it's
inspiration from classical mythology. Taking an extremely irreverent and
hilarious approach to the amazing adventures of the legendary super-hero,
the film follows Hercules on his exciting journey from "zero to hero" as
he discovers what it means to be a true hero and regains his rightful
place among the gods of Mount Olympus. Along the way, he matches wits
with one of Disney's most cunning and comical villains, a hot-head named
Hades who will stop at nothing in his hostile takeover bid for control of
the Universe. Despite his many labors battling mythical monsters of every
shape and size, it is the labor of love that has the most profound impact
on Hercules as he discovers that a true hero is not measured by the size
of his strength but by the strength of his heart."
"Overseeing the production of "Hercules" is the distictive and dynamic
filmmaking team of John Musker and Ron Clements, who serve as directors,
producers, and writers on the film. Following their directing debut in
1986 with "The Great Mouse Detective", they continued to play a major role
in the revitalization of Disney Feature Animation by directing, producing,
and writing "The Little Mermaid" (1989) and "Aladdin" (1992). With
their trademark brand of wacky humor, broad caricatures and stylish art
direction, Musker and Clements have once again come up with an animated
film which breaks the mold and is sure to please moviegoers of all ages.
Producer Alice Dewey worked with the directors as production manager on
"Aladdin". In addition to an extensive background in theater, she also
served as associate producer of Disney's 1994 animated blockbuster, "the
Lion King". Kendra Haaland is the associate producer."
"Also reuniting with Musker and Clements on this project is eight-time
Academy Award(r)-winning composer Alan Menken, who had previously worked
with the team on "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin". Providing lyrics to
Menken's melodies this time around is Tony Award-winner David Zippel
("City of Angels"). Adding to the fun and entertainment of "hercules",
the songwriters use a pastiche of styles with a gospel influence."
"Musker & Clements selected "Hercules" as their latest project in the Fall
of 1993, after reviewing nearly 30 ideas in various stages of development
at the Studio. The directors were immediately attracted to the
mythological aspects of the Hercules story and felt that not only hadn't
it been done before at Disney (except briefly in the Pastoral segment of
"Fantasia"), but it would be great for animation because of it's fantasy
elements, larger-than-life characters and strong potential for
anachronisms and satirical humor. Most importantly, they saw Hercules as
a "common man's hero" with tremendous possibilities because of his
demi-god (half-man, half-god) status."
"Over the next nine months, Musker and Clements collaborated on an
outline, several treatments and eventually an initial script for the film.
During that time, art director Andy Gaskill ("The Lion King") joined the
team and began overseeing visual development on the film. Taking actual
pages from the script, he illustrated them with rough images suggesting
layout and color possibilities. This jump-started the creative process
and helped to get the film ready for storyboarding and animation. Barry
Johnson also came on board at an early stage as head of story. Writers
Bob Shaw and Don McEnery and Irene Mecchi brought additional humor and
definition to the script."
"Rounding out the creative team are artistic supervisors Tom Cardone
(Background), Rasoul Azadani (Layout), Nancy Kniep (Clean-Up), Mauro
Maressa (Effects Animation) and Roger Gould (Computer-Generated Imagery).
Tom Finan and Jeff Jones serve as editors."
"Another major influence on the look of the film came from renowned
British artist/political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, who was brought in
initially to assist with the character design. Musker had been a
long-time fan of the artist's work for The London Sunday Times, The New
Yorker and other leading publications. Scarfe's credits also include
production design for the 1982 Alan Parker film, "Pink Floyd-The Wall",
for which he also directed the animated sequences. Expanding on his
original role as a conceptual artist, Scarfe remained very involved
throughout production and functioned as an ongoing artistic advisor to the
animators. Just as the distinctive style of legendary caricaturist Al
Hirshfeld inspired the design elements for "Aladdin", Scarfe's bold,
expressive linear style gave the filmmakers a new and exciting look for
their characters. Musker describes Scarfe's drawings as having "an innate
and anarchic energy that seems to explode off the page. He draws from the
shoulder with big swoops, so there are these big, strong shapes which have
bold and immediate impact.'"
"To further prepare for the artistic challenges that the production
presented, Dewey, Musker & Clements led a group of their key department
heads on a tour of Greece and Turkey in Summer, 1994. There, they soaked
up the ancient sites and scenery and heard expert accounts of the classic
Greek mythology. They filled notepads with sketches and took extensive
photos and video to further inspire them."
"Animation on "Hercules" began in early 1995 with a team of nearly 700
artists, animators and technicians ultimately contributing to the finished
film. Disney's excellent animation facility in Paris joined in the effort
(as they had on "The Hunchback of Notre Dame") and provided nearly 10
minutes of animation, including the film's exciting finale with the
rampaging Titans and Hercules' daring descent into the Underworld."
"Walt Disney Feature Animation continues to use the latest breakthroughs
in technology to enhance the scope and excitement of its films and
"Hercules" is no exception. The Studio's acclaimed CGI Department
(Computer Generated Imagery), which had previously created a swirling
ballroom for "Beauty and the Beast", a roller coaster "Cave of Wonders"
for "Aladdin", a wildebeest stampede for "The Lion King", and a living,
breathing crowd scene for the "Festival of Fools" in "The Hunchback of
Notre Dame", came up with some new tricks for this film. Under the
direction of artistic supervisor Roger Gould, a team of specially-trained
animators and technicians helped to create the awesome 30-headed Hydra,
the mythical monster that sports multiple new heads to replace each
severed one. Artistry and technology join forces here to lend a sense of
drama, fantasy and excitement that would not have been possible with
traditional techniques. The film's other CG elements include morphing
Olympian clouds which form Baby Hercules' crib and a reclining chair for
"'Hercules" represents the latest artistic achievement for Walt Disney
Feature Animation. Over the past decade, under the leadership of Peter
Schneider, president of Feature Animatio, the Studio's animation
department has expanded from 150 employees to nearly 1700 worldwide with
studios in Florida and Paris. A second major animation building opened in
Burbank in December, 1996 to accomodate the vast number of projects
currently in development and production. Among the exciting and diverse
upcoming slate of animated features is "Mulan", a Chinese fable filled
with comedy and adventure, which will be the first feature completely
animated at the Studio's expanded Florida facility. Also in production is
"Tarzan", a delightful new animated version of the Edgar Rice Burroughs'
classic; "Fantasia '99", an updated version of Disney's innovative 1940
experiment with sight and sound; and "Dinosaur," a bold new adventure in
Sorry this was so long-continued in "Hercules-The Story" post.
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