Hallows 2014, Day 4: Maleficent and Witches of Eastwick

Double feature today! Two for Tuesday or something.

“Maleficent’s Evil Spell”
George Bruns 1959, adapted from Tchaikovsky’s 1890 ballet Sleeping Beauty

The last fairy tale Disney would animate for approximately thirty years, Sleeping Beauty was an experiment with what some might term high-brow art. Eyvind Earle, the designer, envisioned the characters placed on a backdrop painted to evoke the more flat, two-dimensional, and intricately detailed style of medieval art (see below). A medieval image also provided the inspiration for Maleficent’s character. By the by, her name means “evil doing.”


Walt Disney personally hired George Bruns to write the score for the film, and Bruns used Tchaikovsky’s ballet of the same name for his inspiration. Not long before working on this romantically inspired score with its lush orchestration, Bruns also whipped out “The Ballad of Davy Crocket” which reached #1 on the charts and prompted a brief coonskin cap craze. These two works alone attest to Bruns’ creative range. He also wrote “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)” for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, the song “Love” for Robin Hood, and the score for Jungle Book, you know, with the singing vultures and orangutan. Bruns’ score for Sleeping Beauty was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Grammy.


“The Dance of the Witches” from the film score of The Witches of Eastwick
John Williams, 1987

Although this score is not as well known as many of John Williams’ others, many Williams aficionados regard it as one of his best; I think they’re on to something. You can hear the sportive, comedic elements of the movie, but the sound maintains a slightly menacing edge to it as well, from through the squatty undulating lower pitches throughout to the final violin shriek into the air that ends this selection. This film score was also nominated for both an Academy Award and a Grammy.


2 thoughts on “Hallows 2014, Day 4: Maleficent and Witches of Eastwick”

  1. This is one of Disney’s most disturbing scenes… hypnotized by a floating orb, following it to your destruction, seeing the world through green-colored lenses…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So, I’ve never even heard of The Witches of Eastwick before. But that piece was really fun–sounded almost like it could also go with Nightmare Before Christmas.


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