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Sleeping Beauty (1959 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping beauty disney.jpg
Original theatrical release poster
Directed bySupervising Director Sequence Directors
Story byErdman Penner
Based on"Sleeping Beauty"
by Charles Perrault
Produced byWalt Disney
Narrated byMarvin Miller
Edited by
  • Roy M. Brewer Jr.
  • Donald Halliday
Music byGeorge Bruns
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • January 29, 1959 (1959-01-29)
Running time
75 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$6 million[2]
Box office$51.6 million (United States and Canada)[3]

Sleeping Beauty is a 1959 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney based on the 1697 story "Sleeping Beauty" by Charles Perrault. The 16th Disney animated feature film, it was released to theaters on January 29, 1959, by Buena Vista Distribution. It features the voices of Mary Costa, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Barbara Luddy, Barbara Jo Allen, Bill Shirley, Taylor Holmes, and Bill Thompson.

The film was directed by Les Clark, Eric Larson, and Wolfgang Reitherman, under the supervision of Clyde Geronimi, with additional story work by Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright, and Milt Banta. The film's musical score and songs, featuring the work of the Graunke Symphony Orchestra under the direction of George Bruns, are arrangements or adaptations of numbers from the 1890 Sleeping Beauty ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Sleeping Beauty was the first animated film to be photographed in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process, as well as the second full-length animated feature film to be filmed in anamorphic widescreen, following Disney's Lady and the Tramp four years earlier. The film was presented in Super Technirama 70 and 6-channel stereophonic sound in the first-run engagements.

In 2019, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[4][5]


After several years of having no children, the rulers of a European kingdom King Stefan and Queen Leah welcome the birth of their daughter, Princess Aurora. They proclaim a holiday for their subjects to pay homage to the princess, and at her christening she is betrothed to Prince Phillip, the son of King Stefan's friend King Hubert, to unite their kingdoms.

Among the guests are the three good fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. Flora and Fauna bless Aurora with beauty and song, respectively, but Merryweather's gift is interrupted by the arrival of an evil sorceress named Maleficent. As revenge for not being invited, Maleficent curses Aurora, proclaiming that Aurora will grow in grace and beauty, but before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. Since her magic is no stronger than Maleficent's to undo the curse, Merryweather uses her blessing to weaken the curse so that instead of dying, Aurora will fall into a deep sleep, only broken by true love's kiss. King Stefan orders all spinning wheels throughout the kingdom be burned. At the fairies' urging, King Stefan and Queen Leah reluctantly bring Aurora to a cottage in the forest to live with the fairies in safety.

Sixteen years later, Aurora, renamed Briar Rose, grows into a beautiful young woman. On her sixteenth birthday, the fairies ask her to gather berries while they prepare a surprise party. Aurora befriends the animals of the forest and sings them a song, "Once Upon a Dream". Phillip, now a handsome young man, follows Aurora's voice and is instantly struck by her beauty. She is initially frightened, as she is not allowed to talk to strangers, but she and Phillip fall in love, and she invites him to meet her family at the cottage that night.

Meanwhile, Flora and Merryweather argue over the color of Aurora's gown, attracting the attention of Maleficent's raven who learns Aurora's location. Returning home, Aurora is thrilled to tell her guardians that she has fallen in love. The fairies finally tell Aurora that she is a princess, already betrothed to a prince, and she must never see the man she met again. Heartbroken, Aurora cries in her room. Phillip tells his father of the peasant girl he met and wishes to marry, in spite of his prearranged marriage. King Hubert fails to convince his son otherwise, leaving him devastated.

The fairies take Aurora to the castle to await her birthday celebrations, where she will finally see her parents. Maleficent appears and lures Aurora into a dark tower away from the fairies, and tricks her into touching the spindle of a cursed spinning wheel. Aurora pricks her finger, fulfilling the curse. The three fairies place the sleeping Aurora on a bed in the highest tower and place a powerful spell on all the people in the kingdom, causing them to sleep until the spell on their princess is broken. They overhear a sleepy conversation between the two kings, and realize that Phillip is the man with whom Aurora has fallen in love. They rush to find him, but he is abducted by Maleficent and her minions at the cottage. She reveals to Phillip the enchanted princess and her plan to lock him away for a century until he is on the verge of death, then release him to meet his love, who will not have aged a single day.

The fairies rescue Phillip, arming him with the magical Sword of Truth and the Shield of Virtue. An enraged Maleficent surrounds the castle with thorns but fails to stop Phillip. She teleports in front of him and transforms into a gigantic dragon. They battle, and Phillip throws the sword, blessed by the fairies, directly into Maleficent's heart, causing her to fall to her death.

Phillip awakens Aurora with a kiss, breaking the spell and waking the kingdom. The royal couple descends to the ballroom, where Aurora is reunited with her parents. Flora and Merryweather continue their argument over Aurora's gown while the happy couple dances, living happily ever after.


Directing animators

Eric Larson did not animate any of the characters for the film; instead, he directed several sequences, including the forest sequence which stretches from Briar Rose (a.k.a. Aurora) wandering through the forest with her animal friends all the way to Princess Aurora renamed Briar Rose running back home, promising Phillip they will meet again later in the evening. This was the only time Larson directed a sequence or a film during his tenure at Walt Disney Productions.


Walt Disney first considered making a film based on Charles Perrault's fairy tale Sleeping Beauty in 1938. Preliminary artwork was submitted by story artist Joe Grant, but the project did not move forward.[6][7] In November 1950, he announced that he was developing Sleeping Beauty as an animated feature film,[8] although the production title was registered back in January, prompted by a preview audience's positive reaction on Cinderella.[7][9] Disney envisioned this picture as his "masterpiece", a film that he felt would be the pinnacle of his studio's achievements in the field of animation,[10][11] while also realizing the risk of producing another fairy tale feature due to the story's similarity to his previous films, particularly, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella.[6][12]

Story development

Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Winston Hibler, and Ralph Wright were assigned to develop the story,[7][13] deciding to discard the "bizarre" second half of the Perrault's story, which tells about the life of a sleeping beauty married to a strange prince, and instead focus on its first half, ensuring the development of a more convincing romantic relationship between the characters.[13][14] In April 1951, the earliest known story outline was written and included a wake-up kiss as a climactic moment, as well as the meeting between the prince and princess in the forest before the latter falls asleep.[15] It also indicated the names of the fairies, the number of which was reduced from eight to four, and their corresponding magical abilities: Tranquility, the Fairy of the Dreams; Fernadell, the Fairy of the Forest; Merryweather, the Fairy of the Elements; and Maleficent, the Fairy of Darkness.[15][16] To strengthen the conflict in the story,[17] the story team expanded the role of the evil fairy, who was also rewritten as more menacing character than her "old hag-like" counterpart from the original tale,[18] while the good fairies were made into comical companions and guardians of the princess.[15] Several story ideas from that period also included Maleficent's indestructible spinning wheel, the fairies' attempt to surround the castle with a protective circle, through which "no evil thing that walks, or flies, or crawls could ever pass",[15][19] and Maleficent's comically incompetent vulture sidekick,[19][20] although the early outline depicted him as a sinister huge falcon.[15]

In June 1952, the full storyboard presentation was completed, but Disney rejected it, concluding that this story approach was too similar to the studio's past efforts.[7][11] Because of this, the story team had to throw out the first version of the story and start it all over again, while deciding to keep a number of story points from the early suggestions, such as the prince's acquaintance with the titular character before the fulfillment of the curse, and, consequently, a shorter duration of her sleep, which lasted a hundred years in the original fairy tale.[6][12] Part of the difficulty was trying to make Disney's third princess, who was named Aurora, a stand out from Snow White or Cinderella. To do that, the story artists came up with an idea to have the fairies rear her up in a forest cottage, with Aurora being completely unaware of her background or the danger she was in. She also was given a different personality style—"a freshness and a modern sensibility" to make her more appealing to audience. At the same time, Disney, inspired by the improvement of his animators' skills in draftsmanship of a realistic male figure since Snow White, considered it important to expand the role and the character of the prince, who was named Phillip.[7][12] Initially, the storyboard artists worked out an elaborate sequence in which Aurora and Phillip would have met during a treasure hunt, organized by the king, but the idea was eventually dropped when it became too drawn out and drifted from the central storyline. Instead, it was written that prince and princess would meet in the forest by random chance,[12][14] an idea previously introduced in the 1951 outline.[15] Also, to further establish Phillip's role as Aurora's "true love", story artists came up with an idea to have Maleficent kidnap him and plot to keep him prisoner in her castle for a century, which would also serve as a twist on the centennial slumber from the original fairy tale.[21]

Striving for a more serious direction of storytelling,[7][17] Disney also personally cut out a number of gags and comical scenes involving the Three Good Fairies, who by that time had been renamed Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, feeling that they were too "slapsticky" and more fitting for Donald Duck shorts, but not for Sleeping Beauty. One of these was a sequence in which Flora, Fauna and Merryweather unsuccessfully try to bake a birthday cake for Aurora, but in the end they accidentally blow up the oven.[17][22] Also, in the early versions of the story, Aurora was supposed to directly encounter with Maleficent, who would have tricked her into pricking the finger on the spindle. However, Disney felt that the "eerie, haunting presentation of a victim powerless in the hands of evil" would be the "strongest and best statement for the film", so the scene was changed to have Maleficent lure Aurora to her doom under hypnosis, without interacting with her directly.[23][24] Despite Disney's desire to not repeat themselves, several story elements originated from discarded ideas for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella, including Maleficent's capture of Phillip and his escape from her fortress, as well as Disney's favorite concept—prince and princess dancing on a cloud.[16][25]

As of mid-1952, Disney planned to release Sleeping Beauty on Christmas 1955.[26][27] However, production did not start until July 1953,[28] and by the middle of the same year, director Wilfred Jackson had recorded the dialogue and assembled a story reel, and was to commence preliminary animation work where Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip were to meet in the forest and dance. Disney, however, decided to throw out the original version of the sequence, so, for a number of months, Jackson, Ted Sears and two story writers underwent a rewrite of the scene, which also received a lukewarm response from Disney, but, ultimately, was approved with extremely extensive changes. In December 1953, Jackson suffered a heart attack, after which directing animator Eric Larson of Disney's Nine Old Men took over as director, whose unit would animate the forest sequence.[26][29] By April 1954, Sleeping Beauty was scheduled for a February 1957 release,[26] although it was subsequently postponed to Christmas,[27] and later the same year Disney began the construction of his own theme park. Most of the studio talents, who were working on Sleeping Beauty at that time, were assigned to developing it, and the production of the film was temporarily suspended.[6][12] However, work on the project was not completely abandoned, as it was handed to Erdman Penner and Joe Rinaldi for further story development,[12] while the castle built at Disneyland was specifically named Sleeping Beauty Castle to promote the film.[30]

Production of Sleeping Beauty resumed in December 1956, and by that time the release date had changed again for Christmas 1958.[12][27] Disney wanted to oversee every aspect of the film or otherwise "he wouldn’t accept it", but remained very focused on Disneyland. Animator Milt Kahl would blame him for the numerous delays because "he wouldn't have story meetings. He wouldn't get the damn thing moving".[31] According to the diary of studio executive Harry Tytle, after a screening of finished footage in August 1957, Disney also expressed the disinterest in the project, "giving more general comments, rather than specific."[27] Constant delays in the production of the film led to a significant increase in its costs, which Disney was unhappy with. Relatively late in production, he removed Larson as supervising director and replaced him with Clyde Geronimi.[26][32] Wolfgang Reitherman, an animator from the Nine Old Men, joined Geronimi as sequence director over the climactic dragon battle sequence, commenting: "We took the approach that we were going to kill that damned prince!"[33] Les Clark, another animator from the Nine Old Men, served as the sequence director of the elaborate opening scene where crowds of the citizens in the kingdom arrive at the palace for the presentation of Princess Aurora.[34]

Art direction

Kay Nielsen—whose sketches were the basis for the Night on Bald Mountain segment in Fantasia (1940)—was the first to produce styling sketches for the film in 1952.[35] Production designer Ken Anderson was impressed with Nielsen's artwork, but felt his soft pastel paintings would be difficult to translate into animation. Disney then tasked John Hench to help interpret Nielsen's artwork without losing their charm by using opaque cel paint.[36] Additionally, Hench observed the famed unicorn tapestries at the Cloisters located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. When Hench returned to the Disney studios, he brought reproductions of the tapestries and showed them to Disney, who replied, "Yeah, we could use that style for Sleeping Beauty."[37]

Eyvind Earle joined Walt Disney Productions in 1951, first employed as an assistant background painter for Peter Pan (1953). He was then promoted to a full-fledged background painter for the Goofy cartoon "For Whom the Bulls Toil" and the color stylist for the Academy Award-winning short Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom (1953).[26][38] For Sleeping Beauty, Earle said that he "felt totally free to put my own style" into the paintings he based on Hench's drawings, stating, "Where his trees might have curved, I straightened them out ... I took a Hench and took the same subject, and the composition he had, and just turned in into my style."[39] Furthermore, Earle found inspiration in the French Renaissance, utilizing works from Albrecht Dürer, Limbourg Brothers, Pieter Bruegel, Nicolaas van Eyck and Sandro Botticelli, as well as Persian art and Japanese prints.[40]

When Geronimi became the supervising director, Earle and Geronimi entered furious creative differences. Geronimi had felt Earle's paintings "lacked the mood in a lot of things. All that beautiful detail in the trees, the bark, and all that, that's all well and good, but who the hell's going to look at that? The backgrounds became more important than the animation. He'd made them more like Christmas cards".[29] Earle left the Disney studios in March 1958, before Sleeping Beauty was completed, to take a job at John Sutherland Productions. As a result, Geronimi had Earle's background paintings softened and diluted from their distinctive medieval texture.[41]


Live-action reference

Before the animation process began, a live-action reference version was filmed with live actors in costume serving as models for the animators, which Walt Disney insisted on because he wanted the characters to appear "as real as possible, near flesh-and-blood". However, Milt Kahl objected to this method, calling it "a crutch, a stifling of the creative effort. Anyone worth his salt in this business ought to know how people move".[42] Helene Stanley was the live action reference for Princess Aurora.[43] The only known surviving footage of Stanley as Aurora's live-action reference is a clip from the television program Disneyland, which consists of the artists sketching her dancing with the woodland animals. Stanley had previously provided live-action reference for Cinderella (1950)[44][45] and later for Anita from One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961),[44] and portrayed Polly Crockett for the TV series Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. After receiving a call from her future husband, Marc Davis, who was animating Aurora, seamstress Alice Estes Davis went down to Disney and sewed the dress Helene Stanley wore as the model for Briar Rose. This was the first wardrobe design Alice Davis did for Disney. Alice would later sew the wardrobe for all the pirates on the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and all the dolls on It's a Small World.[46]

The role of Prince Phillip was modeled by Ed Kemmer,[45] who had played Commander Buzz Corry on television's Space Patrol[47] five years before Sleeping Beauty was released. For the final battle sequence, Kemmer was photographed on a wooden buck. The live-action model for Maleficent was Eleanor Audley, who also voiced the character.[48] Dancer Jane Fowler was also a live-action reference for Maleficent.[45][49] Among the actresses who performed in reference footage for this film were Spring Byington and Frances Bavier. The role of King Stefan was modeled by Hans Conried, who had previously modeled Captain Hook and George Darling in Peter Pan (1953).

Character animation

Because of the artistic depth of Earle's backgrounds, it was decided for the characters to be stylized so that they could appropriately match the backgrounds.[50] While the layout artists and animators were impressed with Earle's paintings, they eventually grew depressed at working with a style that many of them regarded as too cold, too flat, and too modernist for a fairy tale. Nevertheless, Disney insisted on the visual design, claiming that the inspirational art he had commissioned in the past had been homogenized by the animators.[51] Frank Thomas would complain to Ken Peterson, head of the animation department, of Earle's "very rigid design" and its inhibiting effect on the animators, which was more problematic than working with Mary Blair's designs, to which Peterson would respond that the design style was Disney's decision and, like it or not, they had to use it.[39] Because of this, Thomas developed a red blotch on his face and had to visit the doctor each week to have it attended to. Production designer Ken Anderson also complained: "I had to fight myself to make myself draw that way." Another character animator on Aurora claimed that their unit was so cautious about the drawings that the clean-up animators produced one drawing a day, which translated into one second of screen time per month.[52]

Meanwhile, Tom Oreb was tasked as character stylist that would not only inhabit the style of the backgrounds, but also fit with the contemporary UPA style. Likewise with Earle's background styling, the animators complained that the character designs were too rigid to animate.[53] Oreb had originally designed Aurora to resemble actress Audrey Hepburn but, according to animator Ron Dias, "Eyvind redesigned her. She became very angular, moving with more fluidity and elegance, but her design had a harder line. The edges of her dress became squarer, pointed even, and the back of her head came almost to a point rather than round and cuddly like the other Disney girls. It had to be done to complement the background."[54] For Maleficent, animator Marc Davis drew inspiration from Czechoslovakian religious paintings and used "the red and black drapery in the back that looked like flames that I thought would be great to use. I took the idea of the collar partly from a bat, and the horns looked like a devil". However, in an act of artistic compromise, Earle, with final approval on the character designs, requested the change to lavender as red would come off too strong, in which Davis agreed to.[55]

Veteran animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston were assigned as directing animators over the three good fairies: Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. Disney urged for the fairies to be more homogeneous, which Thomas and Johnston objected to. Thomas stated that they had "thought 'that's not going to be any fun'. So we started figuring the other way and worked on how we could develop them into special personalities".[56] John Lounsbery animated the "Skumps" sequence between Kings Hubert and Stefan.[50]

Chuck Jones, best known for his work with Warner Bros. Cartoons, worked on the film from July to November 1953 after Jack Warner had closed the studio, anticipating that 3-D film would replace animation as a box office draw.[57] Following the failure of 3-D, and the reversal of Warner's decision, Jones returned to the other studio. His work on Sleeping Beauty, which he spent four months on, remained uncredited. Another notable animator who worked on the film was Don Bluth, who served as an assistant animator to Lounsbery.[58] Bluth would leave after two years but eventually came back in the 1970s.


In 1952, Mary Costa was invited to a dinner party where she sang "When I Fall in Love" at the then-named Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. Following the performance, she was approached by Walter Schumann, who told her, "I don't want to shock you, but I've been looking [for Aurora] for three years and I want to set up an audition. Would you do it?" Costa accepted the offer and, at her audition in the recording booth with George Bruns, she was asked to sing and do a bird call, which she did initially in her Southern accent until she was advised to do an English accent. The next day, she was informed by Disney that she had landed the role.[59][60] Eleanor Audley initially turned down the choice role of Maleficent as she was battling tuberculosis at the time, but reconsidered.[61]


Sleeping Beauty
Film score by
ReleasedJanuary 21, 1997
RecordedSeptember 8–November 25, 1958
GenreFilm score
LabelWalt Disney Records

In April 1952, Billboard reported that Jack Lawrence and Sammy Fain had signed to compose the score.[62] In the following year, Disney decided the score should be based on Peter Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty Ballet, which rendered the songs Lawrence and Fain had written unusable except for the lyrics for "Once Upon a Dream".[63] Walter Schumann was originally slated to be the film composer, but he left the project because of creative differences with Disney. George Bruns was recommended to replace Schumann by animator Ward Kimball. Because of a musicians' strike, the musical score was recorded in Berlin, Germany with the Graunke Symphony Orchestra from September 8 through November 25, 1958.[64][65]

The Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic album includes "Once Upon a Dream" on the green disc, and "I Wonder" on the purple disc. Additionally, Disney's Greatest Hits includes "Once Upon a Dream" on the blue disc. The 1973 LP compilation 50 Happy Years of Disney Favorites (Disneyland, STER-3513) includes "Once Upon a Dream" as the seventh track on Side IV, as well as a track titled "Blue Bird – I Wonder" labeled as being from this film with authorship by Hibler, Sears, and Bruns (same set, Side II, track 4).

Although Bruns took much credit for the score, he derived most of his work from the themes and melodies in Tchaikovsky's ballet Sleeping Beauty. Yma Sumac covered "I Wonder" for Stay Awake in 1988. No Secrets performed a cover version of "Once Upon a Dream" on the album Disneymania 2, which appears as a music video on the 2003 DVD. More recently, Emily Osment sang a remake of "Once Upon a Dream", released on the Disney Channel on September 12, 2008, and included on the Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

In the 2012 album Disney – Koe no Oujisama, which features various Japanese voice actors covering Disney songs, "Once Upon a Dream" was covered by Toshiyuki Morikawa.[citation needed]

In anticipation of the 2014 film Maleficent, a cover version sung by Lana Del Rey was released by Disney on January 26. The song is considerably darker and more dramatic than the 1959 version, given the new film's focus on the villain Maleficent. The song was debuted in a trailer for the film shown as a commercial break during the 2014 Grammy Awards, and was released for free on Google Play for a limited time.[66][67]


Original songs performed in the film include:

1."Once Upon a Dream"Chorus 
2."Hail to the Princess Aurora"Chorus 
3."The Gifts of Beauty and Song"Chorus 
4."I Wonder"Mary Costa 
5."Once Upon a Dream (Reprise)"Mary Costa & Bill Shirley 
6."Skumps"Taylor Holmes & Bill Thompson 
7."Sleeping Beauty"Chorus 
8."Finale (Once Upon a Dream)"Chorus 


Original theatrical run

Disney's distribution arm, Buena Vista Distribution, originally released Sleeping Beauty to theaters in both standard 35 mm prints and large-format 70 mm prints. The Super Technirama 70 prints were equipped with six-track stereophonic sound; some CinemaScope-compatible 35 mm Technirama prints were released in four-track stereo, and others had monaural soundtracks. The film premiered in Los Angeles on January 29, 1959.[68] On the initial run, Sleeping Beauty was paired with the documentary short film Grand Canyon (1958) which won an Academy Award.[69]

During its original release in January 1959, Sleeping Beauty grossed approximately $5.3 million in theater rentals (the distributor's share of the box office gross) from the United States and Canada.[70][71] Sleeping Beauty's production costs, which totaled $6 million,[2] made it the most expensive Disney film up to that point, and over twice as expensive as each of the preceding three Disney animated features: Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953), and Lady and the Tramp (1955).[72] The high production costs of Sleeping Beauty, coupled with the underperformance of much of the rest of Disney's 1959–1960 release slate, resulted in the company posting its first annual loss in a decade for fiscal year 1960,[2] and there were massive lay-offs throughout the animation department.[73]


Like Alice in Wonderland (1951), which was not initially successful either, Sleeping Beauty was never re-released theatrically in Walt Disney's lifetime. However, it had many re-releases in theaters over the decades. The film was re-released theatrically in 1970,[74] where it was released on standard 35 mm film. The release garnered rentals of $3.8 million.[75]

It was re-released in May 1979 at the Crest Theatre in Seattle in 70 mm[76] 6 channel stereo for a ten-week test engagement.[77] The film went into wider release later that year in both 70 mm and in 35 mm stereo and mono.[78] It had a further reissue in 1986[79] when it grossed $15 million in the United States and Canada[3] and again in 1995.[80] It was originally going to be re-released in 1993 (as was advertised on the 1992 VHS release of Beauty and the Beast (1991)) but it was cancelled and pushed back two years later to 1995. Sleeping Beauty's successful reissues have made it the second most successful film released in 1959, second to Ben-Hur (1959),[81] with a lifetime gross in the United States and Canada of $51.6 million.[3] When adjusted for ticket price inflation, the domestic total gross averages nearly $681 million, placing it within the top 40 of films.[82]

From July 9 to August 13, 2012, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences organized "The Last 70MM Film Festival" at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, where the academy, its members, and the Hollywood industry acknowledged the importance, beauty, and majesty of the 70 mm film format and how its image and quality is superior to that of digital film. The Academy selected the following films, which were shot on 70 mm, to be screened to make a statement about it, as well as to gain a new appreciation for familiar films in a way it hadn't before: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Sleeping Beauty, Grand Prix (1966), The Sound of Music (1965), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Spartacus (1960), along with other short subject films on the 70 mm format.[83] A screening of the 70 mm print of the film was held during the 70 mm & Widescreen Film Festival at the Somerville Theatre on September 18, 2016.[84]

Home media

Sleeping Beauty was released on VHS, Betamax, and LaserDisc on October 14, 1986, in the Classics collection,[85] becoming the first Disney Classics video to be digitally processed in Hi-Fi stereo. During its 1986 VHS release, it sold over one million copies.[86] The release went into moratorium on March 31, 1988.[87] The VHS was first released on November 6, 1989, in the United Kingdom.

The film underwent a digital restoration in 1997, and that version was released to both VHS and LaserDisc in fullscreen and widescreen as part of the Masterpiece Collection on September 16. The 1997 VHS edition also came with a special commemorative booklet included, with brief facts on the making of the movie.

Sleeping Beauty was released on VHS and DVD in a 2-disc "Special Edition" on September 9, 2003. This THX-certified DVD release included both a widescreen version (formatted at 2.35:1) and a pan and scan version as well.[88] Its DVD supplements included the making-of featurette from the 1997 VHS, the documentary film Grand Canyon, the Life of Tchaikovsky segment of The Peter Tchaikovsky Story from the Walt Disney anthology television series,[89] a virtual gallery of concept art, layout and background designs, three trailers, and audio commentary from Mary Costa, Eyvind Earle, and Ollie Johnston.[90]

A Platinum Edition release of Sleeping Beauty, as a 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray, was released on October 7, 2008, in the US, making Sleeping Beauty the first installment in the Platinum Edition line to be released in high-definition video. This release was based upon the 2007 restoration of the film from the original Technicolor negatives (interpositives several generations removed from the original negative were used for other home video releases). The new restoration features the film in its full negative aspect ratio of 2.55:1, which is wider than both the prints shown at the film's original limited Technirama engagements in 2.20:1 and the CinemaScope-compatible reduction prints for general release at 2.35:1. The Blu-ray set features BD-Live, an online feature, and the extras include a virtual castle and multi-player games.[91] The Blu-ray release also includes a music video of "Once Upon A Dream" sung by Emily Osment; and featuring Daniel Romer as Prince Philip.

The film was released on a Diamond Edition Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD on October 7, 2014, after six years since its first time on Blu-ray. Sleeping Beauty was re-released on HD digital download and Blu-ray on September 24, 2019, as part of the Walt Disney Signature Collection in honor of the film's 60th anniversary.[92]


Critical response

Bosley Crowther, writing in his review for The New York Times, complimented that "the colors are rich, the sounds are luscious and magic sparkles spurt charmingly from wands", but criticized its similarity with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He further wrote that "the princess looks so much like Snow White they could be a couple of Miss Rheingolds separated by three or four years. And she has the same magical rapport with the little creatures of the woods. The witch is the same slant-eyed Circe who worked her evil on Snow White. And the three good fairies could be maiden sisters of the misogynistic seven dwarfs."[93] A review in Time magazine harshly wrote that "Even the drawing in Sleeping Beauty is crude: a compromise between sentimental, crayon-book childishness and the sort of cute, commercial cubism that tries to seem daring but is really just square. The hero and heroine are sugar sculpture, and the witch looks like a clumsy tracing from a Charles Addams cartoon. The plot often seems to owe less to the tradition of the fairy tale than to the formula of the monster movie. In the final reel it is not a mere old-fashioned witch the hero has to kill, but the very latest model of The Thing from 40,000 Fathoms."[94] Harrison's Reports wrote: "It is doubtful, however, if adults will find as much satisfaction in Sleeping Beauty as they did in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with which this latest effort will be assuredly compared because both stories are in many respects similar. While Beauty is unquestionably superior from the viewpoint of the art of animation, it lacks comedy characters that can be compared favorably with the unforgettable Seven Dwarfs."[95]

Among more favorable reviews, Variety praised the singing voices of Mary Costa and Bill Shirley and noted that "some of the best parts of the picture are those dealing with the three good fairies, spoken and sung by Verna Felton, Barbara Jo Allen and Barbara Luddy."[96] Kate Cameron, reviewing for The New York Daily News, described the film as "enchanting" and as a "picture that will charm the young and tickle adults, since the old fairy tale has been transferred to the screen by a Disney who kept his tongue in his cheek throughout the film's animation."[97]

Dave Kehr of The Chicago Reader later wrote that Sleeping Beauty was "the masterpiece of the Disney Studios’ postwar style. The animation has been stripped down, in accordance with economic imperatives, but what the images lose in shading and detail they gain in strength and fluidity...Though other Disney features were done in the wide-screen format, this is the only one that seizes the full dramatic potential of the extended space, most remarkably when the dragon makes its spectacular appearance in the final reel."[98]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that the film received an 89% based on 46 reviews, approval rating with an average rating of 8.2/10. Its consensus states that "This Disney dreamscape contains moments of grandeur, with its lush colors, magical air, [and] one of the most menacing villains in the Disney canon."[99]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[100] Best Scoring of a Musical Picture George Bruns Nominated
Grammy Awards[101] Best Sound Track Album, Original Cast – Motion Picture or Television Sleeping Beauty Nominated
National Film Preservation Board[102][103] National Film Registry Inducted
Online Film & Television Association Awards[104][105] Hall of Fame – Motion Picture Inducted
Satellite Awards[106] Outstanding Overall Blu-Ray Disc Won
Outstanding Youth DVD Nominated
Saturn Awards[107] Best Classic Film DVD Release Nominated
Young Artist Awards Best Musical Entertainment Featuring Youth – TV or Motion Picture Nominated

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


Video games

In the Kingdom Hearts video game series by Square Enix, Maleficent is featured as a villain in all but one of the games. Aurora briefly appears in the original Kingdom Hearts as one of the seven Princesses of Heart. The good fairies also appear in Kingdom Hearts II, giving Sora new clothes. Diablo, Maleficent's raven, appears in Kingdom Hearts II to resurrect his defeated mistress. Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep features a world based on the movie, Enchanted Dominion, and characters who appear are Princess Aurora/Briar Rose, Maleficent, Maleficent's goons, the three fairies and Prince Phillip, the latter serving as temporary party member for Aqua during her battle against Maleficent and her henchmen.

Aurora is also a playable character in the game Disney Princess.

Board game

Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Game (1958) is a Parker Brothers children's board game for two to four players based upon Sleeping Beauty. The object of the game is to be the first player holding three different picture cards to reach the castle and the space marked "The End".[111]

Maleficent is featured on the cover of Ravensburger's Disney's Villainous board game of which she is also a playable character. Her goal is to place a curse on each of the four locations in her playable kingdom.

Theme parks

Sleeping Beauty was made while Walt Disney was building Disneyland (hence the six-year production time). To help promote the film, Imagineers named the park's icon "Sleeping Beauty Castle" (it was originally to be Snow White's).[citation needed] An indoor walk-through exhibit was added to the empty castle interior in 1957, where guests could walk through the castle, up and over the castle entrance, viewing "Story Moment" dioramas of scenes from the film, which were improved with animated figurines in 1977. It closed shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, supposedly because the dark, unmonitored corridors were a risk.[citation needed] After being closed for seven years, the exhibit space underwent extensive period refurbishment to restore the original 1957 displays, and reopened to guests on November 27, 2008. Accommodations were also made on the ground floor with a "virtual" version for disabled guests unable to navigate stairs. Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005, also with a Sleeping Beauty Castle, nearly replicating Disneyland's original design.

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant at Disneyland Paris is a variant of Sleeping Beauty Castle. The version found at Disneyland Paris is much more reminiscent of the film's artistic direction. The Château features an animatronic dragon, imagineered to look like Maleficent's dragon form, is found in the lower level dungeon – La Tanière du Dragon.[112] The building also contains La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant, a gallery of displays which illustrate the story of Sleeping Beauty in tapestries, stained-glass windows and figures.[113]

Princess Aurora (and, to a lesser extent, Prince Phillip, Fauna, Flora and Merryweather, Maleficent and her goons) makes regular appearances in the parks and parades.

Maleficent is featured as one of the villains in the nighttime show Fantasmic! at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Other appearances

Stage adaptation

A scaled-down one act stage musical version of the film with the title Disney's Sleeping Beauty KIDS is often performed by schools and children's theaters.[116] With book and additional lyrics by Marcy Heisler and Bryan Louiselle, the show is composed of twelve musical numbers, including the movie songs.[117]

Live-action film adaptations

In Walt Disney Pictures' live action adaptation Maleficent, released in May 2014, Angelina Jolie plays the role of Maleficent and Elle Fanning plays Princess Aurora. The movie was directed by Robert Stromberg in his directorial debut, produced by Don Hahn and Joe Roth, and written by Linda Woolverton. A sequel to this film began production in May 2018 and was released in October 2019.[118][119]


See also


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NARRATOR: "In a far away land long ago lived a King...

"and his fair Queen.

"Many years had they longed for a child...

"and finally their wish was granted.

"A daughter was born, and they called her Aurora."

Continue reading...

External links

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