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Sleeping Beauty is a American animated feature produced by Walt Disney and based on the fairy tale "La Belle au bois dormant" by Charles Perrault. It was released to theatres on January 29, 1959 by Buena Vista Distribution. The sixteenth animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, it was the last fairy tale produced by Walt Disney (after his death, the studio returned to the genre with 1989's The Little Mermaid).

The film was directed by Les Clark, Eric Larson, and Wolfgang Reitherman, under the supervision of Clyde Geronimi. The film was based on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault, 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 Berlin Symphony Orchestra, are arrangements or adaptations of numbers from the 1890 Sleeping Beauty ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Sleeping Beauty was the first animated feature to be photographed in the Technirama widescreen process. The film was presented in Super Technirama 70 and 6-channel stereophonic sound in first-run engagements. Only one other animated film, Disney's The Black Cauldron, was shot in Technirama.

Princess Aurora, the film's titular character, appears for fewer than eighteen minutes in the film (excluding the time she appears as an infant at the beginning).

Plot

Set in the 14th century, the newborn Princess Aurora is named after the Roman goddess of the dawn because she fills the lives of her mother and father, King Stefan and Queen Leah, with sunshine. While still an infant, she is betrothed to the also-young Prince Phillip, son of King Hubert. At her christening, the Three Good Fairies Flora (dressed in red/pink), Fauna (in green), and Merryweather (in blue) arrive to bless her. Flora gives her the gift of beauty while Fauna gives her the gift of song. Before Merryweather can give her blessing, the Dark Fairy Maleficent appears, expressing disappointment in not being invited to Aurora's christening ceremony and curses the princess to die when she touches a spinning wheel's spindle before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday. Maleficent leaves, and Merryweather is able to use her blessing to weaken the curse so that instead of death, Aurora, will fall into a deep sleep until she is awakened by true love's kiss. Though King Stefan decrees all spinning wheels in the kingdom burned, the Three Good Fairies know Maleficent's curse cannot be stopped that easily and devise a plan to protect her. With the king and queen's consent, they disguise themselves as peasant women and sneak Aurora away with them to a woodland cottage until her sixteen birthday lapses, passing themselves off as her aunts and swearing off magic to conceal themselves.

Years later, Aurora, renamed Briar-Rose, had grown into a gorgeous young woman with the blessings that Flora and Fauna bestowed to her. Sweet and gentle, she dreams of falling in love one day. By that time, Maleficent is vexed at her minions' incompetence in locating the princess and sends her raven familiar, Diablo, to look for Aurora. On the day of her sixteenth birthday, the fairies attempt to make Aurora a gown and a cake. When their attempts end in disaster they decide to use their wands, resulting in a magical fight between Flora and Merryweather over the color of the gown—Flora insisting that it be pink and Merryweather insisting that it be blue—that catches Diablo's attention. Meanwhile, Aurora gathers berries while singing to her animal friends, attracting the attention of Prince Phillip, now a handsome young man, as he is out riding his horse in the woods. When they meet, they instantly fall in love, Phillip believing her to be a peasant girl. Realizing that she has to return home, Aurora flees from Phillip without ever learning his name. Despite promising to meet him again, the fairies, not knowing that the man Aurora met is the prince, reveal the truth of her birth to her and take her to her parents and her betrothed's family insisting that she never see him again, much to her dismay. Meanwhile, Phillip returns home telling his father of a peasant girl he met and wishes to marry in spite of his prearranged marriage to Princess Aurora.

In the castle, Maleficent uses her magic to lure Aurora away from her boudoir and up to a tower, where a spinning wheel awaits her. Fascinated by the wheel with Maleficent's will enforcing it, Aurora touches the spindle, pricking her finger and completing the curse. The good fairies place Aurora on a bed and place all in the kingdom in a deep ageless sleep until the spell is broken. While falling asleep, King Hubert tries to tell Stefan of his son being in love with a peasant girl, which makes Flora realize that Prince Phillip is the man Aurora has fallen in love with, and they fly back to the cottage for him. At that time, Prince Phillip arrives at the cottage, but is captured, bound and gagged by Maleficent's minions and taken to the dungeons of her lair, "The Forbidden Mountain", to prevent him from kissing Aurora until he is an old man and she remains as young as the day she pricked her finger—as previewed in a magical vision which the gloating Maleficent torments him with. However, the fairies sneak into Maleficent's stronghold and free the prince. Armed with the magical Sword of Truth and The Shield of Virtue, Phillip and the fairies escape from the Forbidden Mountain whilst being attacked by Maleficent's minions, which the fairies succeed in blocking. When Diablo tries to warn Maleficent, Merryweather chases him and eventually kills him by turning him into a stone statue, alerting Maleficent. The prince braves all obstacles Maleficent throws at him to reach the palace, including a large bush of thorns, before battling Maleficent herself when she turns herself into a gigantic fire-breathing dragon. After a long fight in which his shield is destroyed, Phillip throws the sword, blessed by the fairies' magic, into the dragon's heart, causing Maleficent to fall to her death from a cliff, leaving nothing but a dark stain and turning the sword black. Phillip climbs to Aurora's chamber, and removes the curse with a kiss. As the film ends, the prince and princess both happily learn that their betrothed and their beloved are one and the same. They arrive at the ballroom, where Aurora is happily reunited with her parents, and she and Prince Phillip dance a waltz. They do not notice that as they dance, Merryweather and Flora have resumed their disagreement over the color of her dress and continue to change it from blue to pink with their magic. As the book closes, Aurora's gown continues to change colors.

Production

Overview and art direction

Sleeping Beauty spent nearly the entire decade of the 1950s in production: the story work began in 1951, voices were recorded in 1952, animation production took from 1953 until 1958, and the stereophonic musical score, partially based on Tchaikovsky's ballet of the same name, was recorded in 1957. The film holds a notable position in Disney animation as the last Disney feature to use hand-inked cels. Beginning with the next feature, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Disney would move to the use of xerography to transfer animators' drawings from paper to celluloid. Its art, which Walt Disney wanted to look like a living illustration and which was inspired by medieval art, was not in the typical Disney style. Because the Disney studio had already made two features based on fairy tales, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella, Walt Disney wanted this film to stand out from its predecessors by choosing a different visual style. The movie eschewed the soft, rounded look of earlier Disney features for a more stylized one. Since Super Technirama 70 was used, it also meant the backgrounds could contain more detailed and complex artwork than ever used in an animated movie before.

While Disney's regular production designer, Ken Anderson was in charge of the film's overall look, Disney artist Eyvind Earle was made the film's color stylist and chief background designer, and Disney gave him a significant amount of freedom in designing the settings and selecting colors for the film. Earle also painted the majority of the backgrounds himself. The elaborate paintings usually took seven to ten days to paint; by contrast, a typical animation background took only one workday to complete. Disney's decision to give Earle so much artistic freedom was not popular among the Disney animators, who had until Sleeping Beauty exercised some influence over the style of their characters and settings.

It was also the first time the studio experimented with the Xerox process. Woolie Reitherman used it on the dragon as a way to enlarge and reduce its size, but due to the primitive equipment available in this early test, the Xerox lines were then replaced with traditional ink and paint.

Of interesting note is the fact that Chuck Jones, who gained fame as an animation director with Warner Bros. Animation, did some work on the film. He worked with the studio during a brief period when Warner Bros. closed its Animation department, anticipating that 3-D film would replace animation as a box office draw. When the studio was re-opened following the failure of 3-D, Jones ended his work at Disney and returned to Warner Bros. His work on Sleeping Beauty, which he spent four months on, remained uncredited. Ironically, during his early years at WB, Jones was a heavy user of Disney-style animation.

Characters and story development

The name of the beautiful Sleeping Beauty is "Princess Aurora" (Latin for "dawn"), in this film, as it was in the original Tchaikovsky ballet; this name occurred in Perrault's version, not as the princess's name, but as her daughter's. In hiding, she is called Briar Rose, the name of the princess in the Brothers Grimm variant. The prince was given the princely name most familiar to Americans in the 1950s: "Prince Phillip", named after Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The evil fairy was aptly named Maleficent (which means "Evil-doer"). Sleeping Beauty's mother is never named in the film itself or the character reference sheets, always referred to as "the queen," whereas both her father and that of the prince are given names that are used several times, both in dialogue and narration.

Walt Disney had suggested that all three good fairies should look alike, but veteran animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston objected, saying that three identical fairies would not be exciting. Additionally, the idea originally included seven fairies instead of three, as there are seven fairies in the story's main reference, Perrault's version. In determining Maleficent's design, standard depictions of witches and hags were dismissed as animator Marc Davis opted for a more elegant look centered around the appearance of flames, ultimately crowning the villain with "the horns of the devil." In the event the individual character of the three good fairies and the elegant villain proved to be among the film's strongest points.

Several story points for this film came from discarded ideas for Disney's previous fairy tale involving a sleeping heroine: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. They include Maleficent's capture of the Prince, as well as her mocking him and the Prince's daring escape from her castle. Disney discarded these ideas from Snow White because his artists were not able to draw a human male believably enough at the time , although they were incorporated into the comic book version of the film. Also discarded from Snow White but used in this film were the ideas of the dance with the makeshift prince (also used as "Prince Buckethead" in the Snow White comic book), and the fantasy sequence of the prince and princess dancing in the clouds, which was also considered but dropped from Cinderella.

Live-action reference footage

Before animation production began, every shot in the film was done in a live-action reference version, with live actors in costume serving as models for the animators. The role of Prince Phillip was modeled by Ed Kemmer, who had played Commander Buzz Corry on television's Space Patrol five years before Sleeping Beauty was released. For the final battle sequence, Kemmer was photographed on a wooden buck. Among the actresses who performed in reference footage for this film were Spring Byington, Frances Bavier, and Helene Stanley.

Helene Stanley was the live action reference for Princess Aurora. 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. It was not the first or last time Stanley worked for Disney; she also provided live-action references for Cinderella and Anita from One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and portrayed Polly Crockett for the TV series Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. An episode of The Mickey Mouse Club television series features Stanley re-enacting scenes from the Sleeping Beauty for the Mousketeers to watch (a clip from this episode is included as a special feature on the Cinderella Platinum Edition DVD).

All the live actors' performances were screened for the animators' reference as Walt Disney insisted that much of Sleeping Beauty's character animation be as close to live action as possible.

Release and later history

Theatrical release

Disney's distribution arm, Buena Vista Distribution, originally released Sleeping Beauty to theaters in both standard 35mm prints and large-format 70mm prints. The Super Technirama 70 prints were equipped with six-track stereophonic sound; some CinemaScope-compatible 35mm Technirama prints were released in four-track stereo, and others had monaural soundtracks. On the initial run, Sleeping Beauty was paired with the short musical/documentary film Grand Canyon which won an Academy Award.

During its original release in 1959, Sleeping Beauty earned approximately $48 million, making it second only to Ben-Hur, and costing an enormous budget of $6 million. Despite the financial success, it was met with mixed reviews from critics, often citing the film being slowly paced and having little character development. Nevertheless, the film has sustained a strong following and is today hailed as one of the best animated features ever made, thanks to its stylized designs by painter Eyvind Earle who also was the art director for the movie, its lush music score and its large-format widescreen and stereophonic sound presentation.

The film was re-released theatrically in 1970, 1979 (in 70mm 6 channel stereo, as well as in 35 mm stereo and mono),1986, 1993, 1995, and had a limited release in 2008. When adjusted for ticket price inflation, the domestic total gross comes out to $478.22 million, placing it in the top 30 of adjusted films.

Home video release

Sleeping Beauty was released on both VHS, Betamax and Laserdisc in 1986 in the Classics collection, becoming the first Disney Classics video to be digitally processed in Hi-Fi stereo. The film underwent a digital restoration in 1997, and that version was released to both VHS and Laserdisc again as part of the Masterpiece Collection. The 1997 VHS edition also came with a special commemorative booklet included, with brief facts on the making of the movie. In 2003, the restored Sleeping Beauty was released to DVD in a 2-disc "Special Edition" which included both a widescreen version (formatted at 2.35:1) and a pan and scan version as well.

A 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition release of Sleeping Beauty, as a 2-disc DVD & Blu-ray Disc, was released on October 7, 2008 in the US, making Sleeping Beauty the first entry in the Platinum Edition line to be released in high definition video. This release is based upon a new 2007 restoration of Sleeping Beauty from the original Technicolor negatives (intrapositives 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, 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. The Blu-ray release also includes disc 1 of the DVD version of the film in addition to the two Blu-ray discs. The DVD was released on October 27, 2008 in the UK. The Blu-ray release is the first ever release on the Blu-ray format of any Disney feature produced by Walt Disney himself.

Other appearances

Aurora is one of the seven Princesses of Heart in the popular Square Enix game Kingdom Hearts (although her appearances are brief), and Maleficent is a villain in all three Kingdom Hearts games, and as a brief ally at the third game's climax. The good fairies appear in Kingdom Hearts II, giving Sora new clothes. The upcoming game for the PSP, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, will feature a world based on the movie, Enchanted Dominion, and confirmed characters include Aurora/Briar Rose, Maleficent, the three faires and Prince Phillip, the latter serving as temporary party member for Aqua during her battle against Maleficent.

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

Princess Aurora, Prince Phillip, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather were featured as guests in Disney's House of Mouse and Maleficent was one of the villains in Mickey's House of Villains.

Maleficent's goons appear in the Maroon Cartoon studio lot in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

The first all-new story featuring the characters from the movie appeared in Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams, the first volume of collection of the Disney Princesses. It was released on September 4, 2007.

Various characters from the film also appear in the board game of the same name.

Characters



Awards and nominations

Nominated



  • Grammy Awards
    • Best Soundtrack Album, Original Cast - Motion Picture or Television


Media and merchandise

Theme parks

Sleeping Beauty cast member at Walt Disney World
Sleeping Beauty was made while Walt Disney was building Disneylandmarker (hence the four 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).

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. After being closed for seven years, the exhibit space underwent extensive 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.

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormantmarker 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.

Hong Kong Disneylandmarker opened in 2005, also with a Sleeping Beauty Castle, nearly replicating Disneyland's original design.

Princess Aurora (and, to a lesser extent, Prince Phillip, the three good fairies, and Maleficent) makes regular appearances in the parks and parades.

In Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland Paris, a sleeping dragon, designed to look like Maleficent's dragon form, is found in the lower level dungeon.

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

Soundtrack listing

  1. "Main Title"/"Once Upon a Dream"/"Prologue"
  2. "Hail to the Princess Aurora"
  3. "The Gifts of Beauty and Song"/"Maleficent Appears"/"True Love Conquers All"
  4. "The Burning of the Spinning Wheels"/"The Fairies' Plan"
  5. "Maleficent's Frustration"
  6. "A Cottage in the Woods"
  7. "Do You Hear That?"/"I Wonder"
  8. "An Unusual Prince"/"Once Upon a Dream"
  9. "Magical House Cleaning"/"Blue or Pink"
  10. "A Secret Revealed"
  11. "Skumps (Drinking Song)"/"The Royal Argument"
  12. "Prince Phillip Arrives"/"How to Tell Stefan"
  13. "Aurora's Return"/"Maleficent's Evil Spell"
  14. "Poor Aurora"/"Sleeping Beauty"
  15. "Forbidden Mountain"
  16. "A Fairy Tale Come True"
  17. "Battle with the Forces of Evil"
  18. "Awakening"
  19. "Finale"


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.

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.

References

  1. Disney animator Burny Mattinson talks Sleeping Beauty"
  2. Heidi Anne Heiner, " The Annotated Sleeping Beauty"
  3. Jacob and Wilheim Grimm, Grimm's Fairy Tales, " Briar Rose"
  4. http://www.ldsfilm.com/misc/lds_Top5_boxoffice.html
  5. All Time Box Office Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation
  6. http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=407 Sleeping Beauty Blu-ray release
  7. http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/animatedfilms/junglebook/ Jungle Book, the first platinum title for DVD, not sleeping beauty


External links




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