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Ferdinand Horvath concept drawing of Don Quixote which dates back to before Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which suggests that Disney Studios -- at one time -- seriously considered turning Don Quixote into a Silly Symphony.

Don Quixote is a 1605 Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra that the Disney Studio has attempted to adapt to film at least four times from the 1940s to the 2000s with proposals ranging from animation to live-action.


Plot[]

Alonso Quixano (or Quijano), a nearly 50 year old man lives with his housekeeper and niece. Later, he has an obsession with books that have stories of chivalry, and believes that all of the words are true, and doesn't realize that many of the events in them are clearly impossible. Quixano begins to become clumsy after reading so many books. Later, Alonso decides to become a knight, and travels with his friend Sancho Panza on a misadventure.[1]


Development[]

In 1941, Disney planned to do a film adaptation of Don Quixote that was set to be released in 1941.

In 1946, a proposed short, Don Quixote: Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character for Large Orchestra is another take on the Don Quixote tale. This time, the Disney animators set it around Richard Strauss' tone poem.

The initial work on this quixotic film was done around 1940 by a crew led by Bob Carr. A prolific artist, Carr did dozens of watercolors of situations and characters, many of them inspired by Velazquez and other Spanish artists. His initial studies for the Duchess, the Bachelor of Science (Samson Carrasco), et al. are as carefully detailed as the costume designs for a historical live-action film. Carr also did hundreds of drawings for preliminary storyboards, working in an elegant, calligraphic style.

Around this same time, another artist (or artists) prepared two additional sets of simpler but more vivid preliminary studies. Carr did finished, elaborately rendered paintings; the anonymous artist employed a looser, less detailed style, using small areas of color to suggest highlights on a piece of armor or a flaring pastel line to suggest the folds of a cape. Don Quixote was probably derailed by the war and the studio cutbacks that followed the box-office losses of Pinocchio and Fantasia.

In 1946, a second crew, under Jesse Marsh, returned to Don Quixote. This version would have been set to an adaptation of Richard Strauss' tone poem "Don Quixote: Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character for Large Orchestra, Op. 35." Marsh prepared hundreds of neat pen-and-ink and watercolor cartoons, noting the musical themes that would accompany the action. He did enough rough storyboards for an entire film, beginning with a shot of the book resting on a table flanked by suits of armor, and concluding with a sort of apotheosis: After Don Quixote's death, he, Dulcinea, and Sancho Panza would ride through the clouds to a glittering castle beneath a rainbow. Like the earlier version, this incarnation of Don Quixote was apparently shelved before story meetings were held or dialogue prepared.

In 1951, the proposed feature film adaptation had the same basic plot as the 1940 take on the Don Quixote story, but the animation would have had a similar style as seen in UPA animated shorts and features of the time.

In 2001, yet another attempt at making this a feature film that ran into the same obstacle as earlier.[2] In the late 1990s, fresh off their stunning work on the opening sequence for Kirk Wise & Gary Trousdale's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Paul and Gaetan Brizzi were tasked with taking another run at Cervantes's episodic tale. Before they locked in the look of Don Quixote & Sancho Panza. So they asked Sandro Cleuzo and John Watkiss to both take a stab at designing these characters. In the end, though the Brizzis may have settled on a fairly cartoonish look for Don Quixote & Sancho Panza and Paul and Gaetan opted to go with a fairly adult take on Cervantes's tale. "How adult?," you ask. So adult that -- even though everyone at Walt Disney Animation Studios admitted that the preproduction artwork that the Brizzis had produced was stunning -- Mouse House managers still pulled the plug on the project. Which is why -- sometime immediately after that -- the Brizzis decamped for DreamWorks Animation.

In December of 2012, Walt Disney Studios bought a pitch for a movie from Jeff Morris & writer-director Steve Pink, which is supposed to be produced by Disney's favorite pirate, Johnny Depp and his sister Christi Dembrowski's company, Infinitum Nihil.

In October 2016, it was announced Disney is developing an adaptation of the classic Spanish novel about a man who believes he is a knight, with Gordon Gray and Billy Ray producing. Billy Ray is also writing the script. Some sources that the plan is to adapt the work in a tone that recalls the madcap and fantastical nature of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.


Why It Was Cancelled[]

  1. The cancellation reasons are currently unknown.


Result[]

  • The animated film didn't come to fruition and was permanently cancelled.
  • While Don Quixote never materialized in a film, the characters of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza appear in "It's a Small World" to represent Spain.
  • A 2016 Italian "Great Parodies" adaptation of Don Quixote by Fausto Vitaliano and Claudio Sciarrione would cast Goofy and Mickey Mouse as a modern day Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, with Goofy being the manager of a comic book shop that has delusions of being Don Quixote after being hit on the head.


References[]

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