The Rescuers, created in 1977, was released on June 22. It was created with two hundred and fifty people working as a team; forty of them were animators that created a total of three hundred and thirty thousand drawings. The old crew of Walt Disney worked on this film with the less experienced crew who, recruited in the seventies. Many different animators rose to a different level with this film, developing the first major hit since The Jungle Book. Unlike other Disney films of this time, The Rescuers brought back “heart” to Disney films, or drama that went beyond the usual comedy that the films presented.
With the creation of the opening credit, a new use of a camera. Generally, cels contained motionless credits over backgrounds- sometimes even just one background. With the Rescuers though, a camera was moved over still images for the opening credits.
Before The Rescuers was created, One Hundred One Dalmatians, created in 1961, was done in a sketchy style with the use of xerography. A modified Xerox camera was used to transfer drawings directly onto cels. Because it was a direct transfer, the outlines still contained the penciled elements. Not until later was clean-up done on paper before the copying. The ‘sketchy’ style of animation that Disney was noted for in the 60’s and 70’s ended with the release of The Rescuers. Medium gray tones and a purple tone were made possible for outlines by improving the xerographic process.
Another animated film created around the same time, but not produced by Disney, was The Hobbit. Stylistically, the Hobbit’s characters are rounder and more detailed as opposed the simplistic style of the Disney characters. A similar use of the xerographic process, apparent in the various beards of the characters. The Rescuers often used a gray outline for characters, or purple in Medusa’s case. The backgrounds in The Hobbit are brighter than those in The Rescuers and more distracting to the eye with all that is going on. The Rescuers’ background allows the viewer to focus on what is taking place in the movie.
The Rescuers was able to bring back the ‘heart’ that old Disney movies had but it also brought along an improved technique that helped Disney take a step forward, breaking out of old standards.