Sleeping Beauty (1959)

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7.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Some of Disney's best animation, Malificent, Once Upon a Dream

Weak story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Sleeping Beauty

Studio:  Walt Disney Productions

Genre(s):  Animated/Muscial/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Romance/Family

Release Date(s):  January 29, 1959

MPAA Rating:  G

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Hey, I know you…I dance with once upon a dream!

Princess Aurora is born to the King and Queen, but her parents are forced to send her away when she is cursed by the witch Maleficent at her debut. Maleficent curses Aurora to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die before her sixteenth birthday, but quick thinking by the fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather manage to change the curse of death to a sleeping spell. Now, Briar Rose is about to turn sixteen and learn the truth of her birth. Maleficent hasn’t given up on stopping Aurora and only a prince might save Aurora and the kingdom from her wicked spell.

Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Les Clark, Eric Larson, and Wolfgang Reitheman, Sleeping Beauty was the sixteenth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classic series. Following in Lady and the Tramp in 1955, Sleeping Beauty is based on the 1697 story La Belle au bois dormant by Charles Perrault. The movie took most of its musical direction from the Sleeping Beauty ballet of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and the musical score was nominated for an Academy Award (losing to Porgy and Bess).  The film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2019.

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The beauty of Sleeping Beauty is the widescreen art!

Sleeping Beauty wasn’t a big hit when it was released, though it is now considered a classic. The movie created a big loss for Disney and led to layoffs and a big change for their next feature One Hundred and One Dalmatians which used a xerox method of illustrating (something Disney experimented with in this film). The movie was shot in Technirama widescreen which was a big change for the standard size of previous Disney films (it was used again in The Black Cauldron in 1985).

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Maleficent…you’re one of the best dragons ever!

I don’t love Sleeping Beauty’s story. The movie is based on a short story and feels like it. The movie drags at points and doesn’t really feel like anything happens. I also feel that the movie loses direction when Aurora falls asleep and it becomes the adventure of Prince Phillip for the last half of the film (though Maleficent as a dragon is awesome).

Despite story weaknesses, I do enjoy the music. Based on the Tchaikovsky, the music has a real flow and style different than many other Disney musicals which had their own music. “Once Upon a Dream” is a great song and one of the more memorable Disney songs (and performances in the movie).

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Now Prince Phillip is facing sexual assault charges…

With big problems, Sleeping Beauty does have some of the best Disney art in all of Disney’s movies. The classic art of the “old” Disney meets the modern age in this film and in color, style, and presentation, the movie is top notch. Recent Blu-Ray releases of the film have really cleaned it up and show how Sleeping Beauty excelled in animation (and it makes you even sadder when you see it compared to the art of One Hundred and One Dalmatians which followed it).

Sleeping Beauty represents the end of old Disney. The movie is generally considered the end of Disney’s golden age, and Disney’s renaissance doesn’t begin again until The Little Mermaid in 1989 (which also is the first fairy tale story again). Sleeping Beauty may not be perfect, but it is pretty. Walt Disney followed Sleeping Beauty with One Hundred and One Dalmatians in 1961.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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