"One Hundred and One Dalmatians" (1961)

Rating: G
Genre: Animation, Kids & Family
Directed By: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton S. Luske, Wolfgang Reitherman, Hamilton Luske
Written By: Bill Peet
In Theatres: Jan 25th, 1961
Runtime: 79 minutes
Studio: Buena Vista

In a Disney animation classic, Dalmatian Pongo is tired of his bachelor-dog life. He spies lovely Perdita and maneuvers his master, Roger, into meeting Perdita's owner, Anita. The owners fall in love and marry, keeping Pongo and Perdita together too. After Perdita gives birth to a litter of 15 puppies, Anita's old school friend Cruella De Vil wants to buy them all. Roger declines her offer, so Cruella hires the criminal Badun brothers to steal them -- so she can have a fur coat.

This is a great family film. It’s played a lot around Christmas time (from my experience at least) even though it’s not a Christmas film per say. But I’ve learned to associate it with Christmas. Maybe it’s the colours of the animation. I can see why it is played – perfect film to sit down to with all the family. It’s got a warm heart, it’s amusing as well as an engaging story for both children and adults alike! Anyway – who doesn’t love a film about dogs?! 

I actually really love the opening credits animation. I think it’s so different from other Disney movies of the time and prior, it’s really creative. And changes around a lot – something I’m sure children find more interesting to watch than the notorious writing on the screen with a choir, Disney movies are known for – although I like that too for sentimental reasons!

I also love how the dog is narrating the film. The dogs and humans’ wedding is so cute as well. We’ve got the two adults in the church gazing into each other’s eyes, holding their hands…Then we move outside the window to see the two dogs in exactly the same stance. It’s adorable!  Not to mention the arrival of the puppies is so funny and adorable, as well as the relationship between Roger and Pongo, and Perdita and Pongo. 


Cruella De Vil is exactly what her name suggests, a “Cruel Devil". The whole idea of skinning puppies (or any animal) to use as coats is inconceivable. This makes her, in my opinion, one of the worst (in a good sense of the word) of Disney’s villains. Disney was not afraid of hitting kids with the stark reality of can happen in the world we live in (we learned that all too well from the “Dumbo” and “Bambi” fiascos) so the brutality of her intentions will come as no large surprise. I think however, it goes by the way side – which is probably a good thing, isn’t it? Probably better not to think about it too deeply or we’ll all be scarred. Needless to say, I watched this film with my own dog and I imagine it might be more of a horror film to him than the warm family film we all know it as.

The animation and drawing in general is different to other Disney movies. It’s very distinct. A system called Xerox technology was used. Xerography, also known as electrophotography, is a printing and photocopying technique that works on the basis of painting with a spray that utilizes electrically charged particles to ensure complete coating. The xerography process is the main method of reproducing images and printing computer data, used in photocopiers, laser printer s and fax machines. 

Before this technique came along, Disney’s animation technique required massive amounts of man hours, each frame of the artists’ drawings needing to be hand traced and painted onto an acetate cell. Incidentally in 1959 when “Sleeping Beauty” was released, while a classic now, it was a bit of an expensive financial flop at the time, meaning the ability to afford making another animation would prove a hugely difficult for Disney had he continued using the same animation technique. Many animators had to be let go as a result. However, with use of Xerography, animators’ drawings could be scanned directly onto the cell, eliminating the need for hand-inking, improving efficiency, and incidentally reduced production costs. Disney was back on track and better than ever! 

If you look closely you’ll notice that the drawing of the maid is identical to Merryweather, the blue fairy from Sleeping Beauty.  

As well as the animation of the film, something else which sets “101 Dalmatians” apart from previously produced Disney films, is the setting of the characters’ lives. Previously, most animated Disney films were based on European fairy tales, including princesses, curses, fairies and/or dragons etc. But in “101 Dalmatians”, the characters are driving cars! They are watching television! The world in which they inhabit is the audience’s world! Something they could recognise and relate to. Something more contemporary.  

For sure one of Disney’s better animations! Certainly one of my favourites.