Sleeping Beauty [1959]

sleepingbeauty01_titles

sleeping_beauty_eyvind_earle

sleeping_beauty_aurora_briar_rose31It was a bold and extravagant departure from the softly curved characters of Disney’s past.

When they added Eyvind Earle to the production his striking angular backgrounds influenced all the visuals. Sleeping Beauty became one of Disney’s most expensive and lavish productions.

sleeping_beauty_aurora_birth

The Fortress one sentence synopsis:  After many years of trying a noble king and queen finally had a beautiful daughter who was then spelled by a demonic witch to die but spared by fairies to instead sleep until awakened by love’s first kiss which happened at the hands- er, lips of heroic Prince Phillip and thus two great kingdoms were united.

The curse involved the needle of a spinning wheel.   So the King ordered every one to be burnt.  The scene was moving.

The curse involved the needle of a spinning wheel. So King Stephen ordered every one to be burnt. The surprisingly moving scene ended the introduction.

Sleeping Beauty was (thankfully) not politically correct.  It included an arranged marriage, a droll minstrel who imbibed too much, and overt Christian imagery which befitted the setting.  The hero was given a “shield of virtue” and a “sword of truth”; “weapons of righteousness that will triumph over evil”.

Remember, do not drink and strum.

Remember, do not drink and strum.

Mary Costa, veteran of many operatic roles voiced Princess Aurora/Briar Rose.

Mary Costa, veteran of many operatic roles voiced melodious Princess Aurora/Briar Rose.

There was sadness too.  The King and Queen allowed Princess Aurora to be raised anonymously as Briar Rose by fairies and missed out on 16 years of their daughter for whom they had waited so long.

At least the pernicious Maleficent also suffered through those years unable to fulfill her curse.  However those dipstick fairies, after being so careful for 15 years 364 days blow it in the last few hours.  Sheesh.

Slow to anger King Stephen became all business versus Maleficent and utted one of my favorite lines, "Seize that CREATUUUURE!"

Slow to anger King Stephen became all business versus Maleficent and uttered one of our favorite lines, "Seize that CREATUUUURE!"

Maleficent was demonic, and they made no bones about it.  The self proclaimed “mistress of all evil” was diabolically sadistic in her enjoyment of others suffering and torment of Phillip.  A level of malevolence unmatched by Disney to this day.

Aww, she does not look so bad.  Maybe she is just misunderstood.

Aww, she does not look so evil. Maybe she is just misunderstood. (Maleficent was voiced deliciously by Eleanor Audley. She had previously voiced Cinderella's step mother. Walt must have found her patrician tone perfect for this ultimate evil role.)

The movie draws you in.  One cannot help but feeling crestfallen along with King Hubert as his son Phillip announced his desire to marry a peasant girl (Briar Rose).  Hubert is crushed as the 16 year dream of united realms is dashed.

Fear not, King Hubert, everyone (except Maleficent) will live happily ever after.

Fear not, for King Hubert & everyone (except Maleficent) will live happily ever after.

The fairies put the entire kingdom to sleep rather than break their hearts with the news of Aurora’s fate.  It was poignant that they all now suffered that same fate.  Philip, imprisoned by Maleficent would be the key to all their destinies.  No pressure.

sleeping_beauty_king_stephen_sad

The movie did not lag in its pacing as the climax built and Phillip with his horse Sampson begin a desperate all-or-nothing, no-turning-back, life-or-death struggle.  (Are there any more dashed cliche’s we can add?  How about “no-holds-barred”?)

Yup.  It is a pedal-to-the-metal, do-or-die, one-way-trip confrontation.

Phillip versus Maleficent: Yup. It is a pedal-to-the-metal, do-or-die, one-way-trip, David-versus-Goliath confrontation. (NOW we have exhausted the dashed cliches.)

This movie is truly classic for so many reasons.  We delight in the multi-part choral harmonies.  They were so rich, and aided by Thurl Ravenscroft, the deep voice of Tony (“They’re Greeeaaat!”) the Tiger.  Sadly such harmonies fell from favor; reduced to just a few seconds by the Little Mermaid/Beauty and the Beast era, to completely gone today.

Blessed with the fairy gift of song, Princess Aurora/Briar Rose was the only Disney princess with legitimate ability to communicate with animals.

Blessed with the fairy gift of song, Princess Aurora/Briar Rose was the only Disney princess with a legitimate reason for the ability to communicate with animals.

Another classic element is its timelessness.  Walt Disney had a rule about adding no contemporary humor or references to his films.  He wanted them to be enjoyed for generations and not tied to specific passing knowledge.  Sadly that rule was later bent and broken after he died (*cough* Aladdin).

Maleficent appearing out of the dark is the stuff of nightmares.

Maleficent appearing out of the dark is the stuff of nightmares. (The obvious answer? Do not sleep.)

Additionally Sleeping Beauty has one of the best depictions of “love at first encounter” ever.  With a few well placed set ups, the 2.5 minute scene where Phillip meets Briar Rose and they sing and dance together in the woods may make even the most jaded heart a believer in such romantic notions.

Phillip & Aurora/Rose Step 1:  Boy meets girl and there is instant attraction.  Overcoming initial caution, infatuation quickly grows.

Phillip & Aurora Step 1: Boy meets girl and there is instant attraction. Overcoming initial caution, infatuation quickly grows.

step t

Phillip & Aurora Step 2: Boy & girl get to know each other better and share activities as infatuation grows into something more.

Phillip & Aurora/Rose Step 3:  Finally (after 2.5 minutes) destiny has taken hold and true love will conquer all.   Disclaimer: 2.5 minutes is not typical. Your results may vary.

Phillip & Aurora Step 3: Finally (after 2.5 minutes) destiny has taken hold and true love will conquer all. Disclaimer: 2.5 minutes is not typical. Your results may vary.

Sleeping Beauty is our favorite Disney movie.  It is classic for all it includes, and all it leaves out.  It is memorable for unique art direction never to be duplicated.  It portrays emotions and character development with cleverness, and contains the most clear depiction of good versus evil ever to wear the Disney name.

Prince Phillip was brave and risked all.  ("Oh my god, is that a cross on his shield?!"  <--- Think of the irony built into that sentence.)

Prince Phillip was brave and risked all. ("Oh my god, is that a cross on his shield?!" <-- Think of the irony built into that sentence.)

Maleficent said, "now you will have to deal with me and all the powers of Hell!"  Her frightening dragon is pretty intese

Maleficent said, "Now you will have to deal with me and all the powers of Hell!" The frightening dragon she transformed (or reverted?) into was one of the most intense and fearsome ever animated. Refreshingly, she was not "banished", "imprisoned" (or sent a strong letter). She was killed dead. D-E-A-D, dead.

Check out a couple more pics of Aurora as Briar Rose in

Top Ten Animated pics Vol. 2.

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12 thoughts on “Sleeping Beauty [1959]

  1. Wow, so nicely put. You even took time to make an animated banner in the style of the opening credits. *sniffle*

    This too was one of my favorite Disney masterpieces. “Clever” really does come to mind when I piece together the plot, characters, music, and animation style. I’d have to agree that Maleficent was the most diabolical villain we’ve seen yet in Disney, and will most likely never be surpassed. She was too thorough and intelligent. But she lived in the wrong age, where good always conquered evil, love triumphs, and so on. 😉

    Even with Maleficent’s maliciously evil grin haunting me halfway up the page, I managed to have many laughs while reading this take.

    • Thank you for noticing so much, and stating your opinions well.

      Your response and others I received encouraged me to add information about Eleanor Audley, the voice of Maleficent in her first picture caption.

      I also had to add one more thought to the last picture. Real comeuppance is not common in media these days.

      november.eyes costume

  2. And I thought I was the only one with an appreciation for Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.” A true classic. And this is truly an homorously engaging take. My favorite, most enlightinging observation:

    “Blessed with the fairy gift of song, Princess Aurora/Briar Rose was the only Disney princess with a legitimate reason for the ability to communicate with animals.”

    Reveals all the other Disney princesses as the frauds that they are 😉

  3. Great “take” on this classic. Sleeping Beauty has the emotional power of the old tales: evil does exist and must and will be vanquished. And of course the film is stunningly beautiful. Did you watch the restoration edition in the original aspect ratio? Talk about a wide screen, and every square inch used to full effect.

    • Thanks. You know we usually do not run out to get the latest release of a classic because it is often just a port to another format. However in this case as you know they went to great and even extraordinary lengths to restore Sleeping Beauty for Blu Ray. Tracking down original recordings and film stock, doing that aspect ratio research, interviews, etc,. proved to me that Disney really took this seriously. The awesome results bear witness to that.

      You are right, Sleeping Beauty is a classic that carries a lot of emotional power. We are of the opinion that such a classic could not be made by Disney today. Sadly, we think too much political correctness has crept into film making in general, and Disney specifically.

  4. Phillip & Aurora Step 3: Finally (after 2.5 minutes) destiny has taken hold and true love will conquer all. Disclaimer: 2.5 minutes is not typical. Your results may vary.

    THAT WAS FUNNY. SO VERY FUNNY. HILARIOUS. 2.5 minutes later. Whoever writes these reviews deserves a gold medal. I was thinking… Oh ok… several frames later… but no it’s 2.5 minutes later XDDDDDDD Wow. Love is fast.

    I agree with almost everything in this review 🙂 Btw. I like the second picture! 🙂

    • Love at first sight may be rare, but you could not help but root for those two crazy kids. Kingdoms, betrothals and fire breathing demonic dragon witches would not be allowed to bar the way. …Although, of course, your results may still vary. 😉

      That second pic is cute. Aurora in her woodland outfit was a clean natural prettiness, not overflowing with princess frills.

      Clean and not overly adorned

    • We do encompass an eclectic body of takes. You do not know exactly what to expect next from the Fortress (aside from our ongoing series reviews), but you can rest assured that we will do them in our trademark style. We have to have some connection with a media product to do a take, as each does take some time.

      We are gratified that you Kyra Nyx share some similar tastes with the mysterious Fortress. We surmise that means there will be some further offerings for your enjoyment. If you think there is something that really needs our attention, mention it. Or friend us on FB to let us know when you see or think of something.

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