Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Something to Dream About

A spectacular achievement in the art of animation, Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty has awakened-- the dazzling beauty of this timeless animated masterpiece is now fully restored. Created in the Disney tradition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella, the unforgettable story is a breathtaking tapestry of charming romance, majestic spectacle and electrifying adventure.

Once upon a dream, the lovely Princess Aurora is gifted with grace and beauty-- but she provokes the jealousy of the wicked fairy Maleficent. A delightful trio of kindhearted Good Fairies do their best to protect their beloved Princess-- but even their magic is no match for the terrifying Mistress of All Evil, and Aurora falls into an enchanted slumber. The heroic Prince Phillip must brave many dangers-- and finally battle a ferocious fire-breathing dragon-- if he is to wake Princess Aurora from her eternal sleep!

With a magical Academy Award- nominated score adapted from the immortal music of Tchaikovsky, Sleeping Beauty is a cherished classic for every family and one that they will enjoy again and again.

Title: Sleeping Beauty
Release: January 29, 1959
Genre: Animated- Family
MPAA Rating: G
Based On: La Belle au bois dormant by Charles Perrault
Writer: Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright, & Milt Banta
Director: Clyde Geronimi
Music By: George Bruns, Tom Adair, Sammy Fain, & Jack Lawrence
Produced By: Walt Disney
Distributed By: Buena Vista Distribution
Run Time: 75 minutes
Official Site

According to Walt Disney on one of his Wonderful World of Color episodes, Sleeping Beauty “took six years [not including story development], and six million dollars to make.” It was the last hand-inked Disney animated feature film, the first of the animated films to stop having Walt Disney’s personal touch because of all the other projects he was involved in (Disneyland, the TV show, and his live-action movies), and it’s the most beautiful, decorative, sophisticated, and intricately Disney movie ever made and though the most expensive, it was still wildly successful at the box office, yet it still didn’t make back as much as went into it.

This is such a beautiful film, more like a medieval painting, tapestry (which is the inspiration actually), or book artwork that’s fantastically rendered for the first in technorama 70 which is really, really wide- screened. The animators of the film made sketches based on medieval tapestries to get the look of the film and it was because of this that everything in Sleeping Beauty is in focus from every leaf to lines in clothing from characters in the background. The Disney studio had never done a film like this before, especially after the invention of the multi-plane camera, which lets the backgrounds fade out of focus while still giving the illusion of depth. This sharp focus is what I loved about this particular film as a child; the forest scenes in particular captured my imagination. To be honest, the backgrounds outstage the characters and the story.

Two of the best of Disney’s animators who are also part of the famed 9 Old Men, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas animated the comic relief in this film, the three Good Fairies which happen to be my favorite characters in the film. It isn’t all that surprising considering they are my favorite Disney animators! It was Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather that are the heart of this picture and the reason I enjoyed it as a child. Well, them and Prince Phillip (voiced by Bill Shirley) and his horse Samson- he’s the only Prince in Disney history I ever truly liked! Maleficent on the other hand, used to terrify me and I think she’s the very best Disney villainess followed closely behind by Lady Tremain the Wicked Stepmother from Cinderella. Funnily enough, they’re both voiced by the same woman, Eleanor Audrey which I didn’t find out until I was much older. She originally turned this role down because she was fighting tuberculosis at the time but thankfully, she went ahead with it because no one else could have given Maleficent the presence and cold menace that is that character without making it seem too much.

Quite a few elements found in Sleeping Beauty were previously used in Snow White and Cinderella but somehow despite similarities, this manages to be a completely unique picture with its one-of-a-kind characters. Aurora/ Briar Rose has always been my favorite princess from Walt Disney’s era (During my childhood was when the great Disney princesses came out though: Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, etc).because she’s gorgeous, charming, sophisticated, thanks to her animator Marc Davis (who also did Maleficent) and has a beautiful voice thanks to opera singer Mary Costa. However, I’ve always felt like the rest of the movie just moves around her even if she’s what the entire movie is about. Matter of fact, I believe she’s on-screen less than any other character! When asked what kind of personal connection she had to the film, Mary Costa (Aurora/ Briar Rose) said, "For me, Sleeping Beauty is like a beautiful glass time capsule where the joyest part of my youth has been kept preserved and eternally sealed. I’ve always felt that it was just a blessing. It was such an honor for me to do that," Ms. Costa, we're the ones who are blessed. No one could have done her voice better.

Tchaikovsky’s music and George Bruns interpretation of it helped tell Disney’s version of the charming fairytale, (filmed in “Technorama 70” for its theatrical release) but more than any other film, Sleeping Beauty looks and sounds like it could be part of Fantasia because the music is hauntingly beautiful. The soundtrack was even nominated for an Oscar and a Grammy! However, the actual animation is so finely detailed that no other Disney film can match it. This is in part thanks to the vision of Eyvind Earle an animator at the studio who was put in charge of the look of the entire film- everything from the backgrounds (which he painted a good bit of himself) to the style. He even had some input on the characters which didn’t go over too well with the animators. When it’s all said and done though, Sleeping Beauty is wonderful because of his and many other people’s contributions. It was the end of an era and it went out with a bang.

Favorite Quotes
Merryweather: I'd like to turn her into a fat ol' hop toad.
Fauna: Now, dear, that isn't a very nice thing to say…
Flora: Besides, we can't. You know our magic doesn't work that way.
Fauna: It can only do good, dear. To bring joy and happiness.
Merryweather: Well, that would make me happy.

Merryweather: It looks awful.
Flora: That's because it's on you, dear.

Prince Phillip: But when will I see you again?
Briar Rose: Oh never, never!
Prince Phillip: Never?
Briar Rose: Well, maybe someday.
Prince Phillip: When? Tomorrow?
Briar Rose: Oh no, this evening!
Prince Phillip: Where?
Briar Rose: At the cottage... in the glen.

Featured Songs
Hail to the Princess Aurora
One Gift
I Wonder
Once Upon a Dream
The Skumps Song
Sleeping Beauty

Find Sleeping Beauty Online
Official Site

Covering the Mouse- cover songs
Fairy Tale Sleeping Beauty Wikipedia
Notes for Sleeping Beauty Ballet

Mary Costa, the voice of Sleeping Beauty
Burny Mattinson, an assistant animator under Marc Davis
Mary Costa with Ultimate Disney


1997 Making of Sleeping Beauty pt1:

Briar Rose/Aurora Model:

Mary Costa Interview:

Related Reviews
Verna Felton-Flora
The Jungle Book (1967)- Winifred (the elephant)
Alice in Wonderland (1951)- Queen of Hearts
Cinderella (1950)- Fairy Godmother
Dumbo (1941)- The Elephant Matriarch / Mrs. Jumbo
Bill Shirley- Prince Phillip
My Fair Lady (1964)- Freddy Eynsford Hill (singing voice)
Eleanor Audley- Maleficent
Cinderella (1950)- Lady Tremaine, Evil Step-mother
Barbara Luddy- Merryweather
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)- Kanga
Barbara Jo Allen- Fauna
The Sword in the Stone (1963)- Scullery Maid
Bill Thompson- Hubert
Alice in Wonderland (1951)-White Rabbit / Dodo


  1. Ooh, my daughter loves this animation! She'll watch it over and over again and never get tired of it, LOL.

  2. Omg! I had no idea the translation was so accurate - Here they obviously showed it in Spanish but the translation is so close! -

    And I loved this movie too, when I Was little my sister and I each had a tape, I had Cinderella and she had Sleeping Beauty but we always loved both movies.

    She and I used to sing the song of when the two kings are toasting, and the waltz! I sing that each time we pretend to waltz around the living room.

    It was in my childhood too that the other great princess came to life (Ariel and Belle forever my favorites) but there has always been an special place in my heart for Cinderella and Aurora.

    Thanks for this post, it made me smile.

  3. A wonderful Disney masterpiece! I only have one slight criticism and that is I didn't like the background artwork in this movie. But a timeless classic for every generation.

  4. I loved this one when I was younger..thanks for all the info on it.

  5. I love the older Disney movies. This one is great, Snow White is my favorite. Maleficent is a great villain! She always scared me too.
    Excellent review!

  6. Awwwww sounds great, and I do not know if I EVER have seen it :( They never showed Disney movie on tv

  7. Melody: It's not my favorite Disney but I do love the animation.

    AnimeGirl: I wonder what the Spanish version sounds like...

    Clement of the Glen: Really? That's actually my favorite part. It did dominate the film more than the characters though.

    Kris: You're very welcome!

    Naida: She doesn't do much and she's very into speeches but she still scared me!

    Cleverly Inked: I'm sure he'd be so disappointed in what they've done to his studio.

    Blodeuedd: You are certainly missing out! If you can't find a DVD copy, I'm sure it's been uploaded to YouTube.

  8. Sleeping Beauty was always among my favorites when I was growing up. I just love the story. Thank you for the walk down memory lane!

  9. This is one of my favorites, but I think I've only seen it twice. I have little boys, so they aren't into the "girl" cartoons. :) My five-year-old loves to dance with me to "Once Upon a Dream" though, and plays the role of Prince Charming.

  10. Nice to see this movie getting its spot in the sun. That wicked witch in this one was always very very scary to me ... one of the scariest they ever created in my opinion.

  11. It's been so long since I last saw this I barely remember the Disney touches. I really must watch it again. My favourite remains The Little Mermaid.

  12. This was one of my favourite Disney princess movies when I was younger, my most favourite was and is The Little Mermaid.

  13. This is one of may all time favorite Disney movies! My favorite though was Beauty and the Beast, I've managed to name 2 of my dogs thus far some version of "Belle". :) Also loved Aladdin and The Little Mermaid!

  14. Wendy: You're very welcome! Sleeping Beauty is such a good movie.

    Alyce: Aw! Maybe once they're a little older you can get them interested in the animation.

    Jenners: Yeah, she always scared me. Cruella deVil is scarier in the book but she's also pretty creepy (yet her flamboyance keeps her from being scary like Maleficent) in the movies too.

    Rhinoa: I haven't seen The Little Mermaid since it first came out on 2-disc DVD whne I bought it lol.

    Nazish0151: Aurora is definitely the most dignified princess.

    Mollie: Beauty and the Beast is my favorite too. It's coming out on Blu-ray next month!!!



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