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A Disney classic
Kristine18 January 2004
When I was a little girl, Sleeping Beauty was my all time favorite Disney film. I was so in love with this story, it's crazy how many times I wore out the VHS. But growing up, I lost touch with the story, but I recently bought the DVD and re-watched the film and you know what? I'm still in love with this movie. I really miss these old Disney movies where the animation was so bright and beautiful, the characters were so lovable, and the story was so magical. I'm not bashing Disney films from today, just I'm sure we could all relate on this subject where the older Disney films just had a certain charm about it. Sleeping Beauty is just a timeless story and has so much wonderful romance, I guess since I'm a girl, I just couldn't help but still be in love with this beautiful story.

Princess Aurora is born and is the future queen of her land, three fairy's, Flora, Merryweather, and Fauna bless her with three gifts: beauty and song, right as Merryweather is about to bless Aurora, the evil witch, Maleficent, comes in and curses Aurora that she shall touch a spinning wheel by her 16th birthday and die! Merryweather changes it to where she won't die, but sleep and could only be woke up by the kiss of true love. The fairy's wish to keep this from happening still, so they take Aurora and raise her as their own. One day Aurora on her 16th birthday goes out in the forest and meets the charming and handsome Prince Phillipe, but she doesn't know he's a prince and she doesn't know he's fhe man she's actually betrothed too. She is told by the fairy's that she can never see him again and that she's a princess; later that night the curse happens! Now the fairy's need Phillipe to save Aurora before it's too late.

Everything about Sleeping Beauty is just a perfect Disney film and I can't wait until to show this to my future kids one day. I know that their generation is going to have just the CGI animation, so it's good that at least we still have these films, they're treasures. The voices, the animation, the story, Sleeping Beauty is the most romantic fairy tale that anyone could easily fall in love with. If you are a Disney fan, this is a must see, it's a great family film or if you're just a film buff in general, I'm a grown up and I still tear up when I watch Sleeping Beauty.

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Hail to the Princess Aurora!
phillindholm9 July 2006
"Sleeping Beauty" was envisioned by the great Walt Disney as his masterpiece--the feature-length cartoon par excellence. And, in many ways, it is. The then-record budget (six million dollars) was the largest ever for an animated motion picture. The widescreen Technirama 70 process had never been used for an animated feature. The six-track magnetic stereo sound was a step upward from the "Fantasound" system employed in "Fantasia" (1940). Also new and trend-setting was the style of the animation--a more realistic, geometric design which, surprisingly left many critics and audiences cold. The extra expense needed to showcase the widescreen film properly, together with the lukewarm reviews, prevented "Sleeping Beauty" from turning a profit at the box office when it was released (with much fanfare) in 1959. But time has been kind to the film, subsequent reissues have finally put it in the profit margin, and both viewers and critics are appreciating it for the beautiful fantasy it has always been. However, like it's predecessor "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) which was Disney's first fairy tale, as well as his first full-length film, this screen adaptation of "Sleeping Beauty" strays from it's origins. While the Charles Perrault version of the tale is given as the source, there are new variations.

The original story is as follows: When a baby girl is born to a King and Queen, they invite seven (or, in the Grimm version, twelve) Fairies to the christening. Uninvited is an evil fairy, who shows up anyway, and curses the child with death on her 16th birthday. Although a good fairy is able to alter the spell, the princess is doomed to sleep (along with the court) for 100 years. Despite the precautions taken, the curse is fulfilled (accidentally, in most versions of the story) and the princess does indeed sleep for a century, after which a prince awakens her. Understandably, Disney's telling departs from Perrault here as well, because in Perrault's version, the King and Queen are the sole members of the court who do not succumb to the sleeping spell, and, eventually die of old age. The Disney version of the tale whittles the number of good fairies down to three, giving them the appearance and personalities of elderly women. Meanwhile, the evil fairy, dubbed Maleficent, is a cold, flamboyant villainess who, for better or worse, overshadows everyone else in the film (but then, the villain always does). Disney's retelling also dispenses with the Heroine's 100 year sleep which lasts merely one night. There is much emphasis put on the three fairies who secretly, in the guise of peasants, raise the baby princess Aurora, (whom they dub "Briar Rose" interestingly, the name given the Princess in the Grimm retelling) and, unwittingly make it possible for Maleficent to execute her curse. Also new, is the introduction at the beginning of the film of Prince Phillip, who is immediately betrothed to Aurora. The climatic battle he has with the evil fairy, here transformed into a dragon, has become one of the most memorable parts of the film, though it was purely the scriptwriter's invention. In the end, however, it is best to appreciate the film as a stand-alone creation, rather than a faithful adaptation of a classic story.

Indeed, as some latter-day critics have pointed out, "Sleeping Beauty" has been embraced by the young and old audiences who find in it many of the same sword and sorcery elements in films like "Legend" and "Excalibur". And every penny of it's then-unprecedented budget is on the screen. One marvels at the intricate design of the animation, all accomplished well before the advent of computers, which the Technirama screen showcases to full effect. The voice talent is perfect. Mary Costa, who went on to an estimable opera career, is a lovely and expressive Aurora, while Bill Shirley is an ingratiating Prince Phillip. Eleanor Audley (so deliciously cold as the stepmother in Disney's "Cinderella") is the embodiment of majestic evil as Maleficent. Verna Felton (the Fairy Godmother in Disney's "Cinderella"), Barbara Jo Allen and Barbara Luddy are the delightful (and all too human) fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. Aurora's father, King Stefan, is voiced by Taylor Holmes, with Bill Thompson as Phillip's father King Hubert. A word should also be said for Candy Candido, who provided the sounds made by Maleficent's goons. The Tchaykovsky ballet score provides both the background music and melodies used for the new songs. All this blends perfectly in an epic adventure/fantasy seldom experienced on screen, and one with enough heart to capture the most cynical viewer.

The Special Edition DVD, released in 2003, and currently out of print, is another example of what a "Special Edition" truly encompasses, including a fully restored widescreen print of the film, a new 5.1 stereo mix which fully showcases the Academy Award nominated score, as well as many bonus features with appeal to all ages (including a widescreen/fullscreen comparison which should be the last word on that subject). Also included are several complimentary historical shorts like the Academy Award winning "Grand Canyon" which accompanied "Sleeping Beauty" on it's initial release. Trailers, games, interviews with Mary Costa and surviving animators, vintage featurettes which delve into the making of the film, and last, but not least, footage of Disney himself, complete the dazzling package. Finally awakened from her long slumber, and more refreshingly lovely than ever, "Sleeping Beauty" is a film (and DVD) for the ages.
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"You know, sometimes I don't think she's very happy."
Ashley28 June 2003
I grew up in the Disney era where "Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin" and "The Lion King" reigned supreme among me and my elementary school pals (and to this day, if you ask one of my peers what their favorite Disney movie is, it's probably one of those or one of the Disney-Pixar creations).

But one Disney film has always remained my utter favorite and that is, indeed, "Sleeping Beauty."

Like most children, I grew up watching Disney movies -- everything from animated films like "Snow White" to "Lady and the Tramp," the semi-animated like "Mary Poppins" and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," and the non-animated such as "The Parent Trap" and "Old Yeller." But "Sleeping Beauty" remains my favorite animated movie and you'd better believe at seventeen years of age, I'm still watching it. I cannot believe how the animation has been knocked in some reviews -- it's beautiful! They captured the medieval period so well and even the people look like, well, people. The score is beautiful and the songs "I Wonder" and "Once Upon a Dream" are sung wonderfully by Mary Costa. What a voice! Aurora is by far one of the prettiest Disney princesses (one thing that initially drew me to the movie as a child), following the formula with those trademark doe-eyes that Disney bestows upon all of their princesses and heroines. Prince Phillip actually does more than just show up to sing a song and say one line, a welcome change that answers the age old question, "What does she see in him anyway?" The three fairies are delightful (I always wanted to be Fauna!) and funny. And of course, there's the quintessential villain -- Maleficent. She scared me when I was younger and when I view the film now, no wonder. (For the longest time, I was also scared of Eleanor Audley period, but she's truly a marvelous actress.) And when Phillip kills her -- yeah, you'd better believe that's some scary business.

The story is beautiful and funny, the animation is divine, the music ethereal, and the voice talents extraordinary. This is a personal favorite and it comes highly recommended!
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I have a theory about this movie...
movibuf19625 September 2003
...which is that it may have been designed more for an adult audience than a children's. At any rate it was way ahead of its time in 1959. "Sleeping Beauty" was one of the movies I watched as a child, and its grandness overwhelmed me even at the age of ten. I couldn't be happier to see it finally in the DVD format. But watch closely; you'll notice many subtle, sophisticated things which other viewers have touched on in earlier reviews. The animation is almost surreal-- so incredibly lifelike that it abandons its cute, 'Disneyesque' pretensions from previous fairy tales. There are no talking mice, dogs or cats anywhere to be seen. Here the animals are silent, as animals are supposed to be. (I love the sequence with the forest animals as they are awakened by the singing of the barefoot princess and join up with her, like multiple chaperons, in harmonious whistles.) Even the fairy godmothers- who may initially appear as sugary stereotypes- spend so much time bickering (well, two of them do anyway) that you get to identify them as thoroughly fleshed out personalities. The adaptation of the original Perrault fairy tale is also impressive. An ingenious move was to have the prince and princess meet in the forest *first* and fall in love- unaware that they are already engaged to be married. Someone mentioned the chilling sequence which shows the princess, cloaked in an eerie green pallor, actually being lured to the fateful spinning wheel. So dark, so frightening- when was the last time you saw something like this in a Disney fairy tale? And then immediately afterwords is a cleansing sequence of unmatched beauty showing the fairies sailing through the sky like fireflies, magically dusting the rest of the castle to sleep. It is, of course, only matched by the film's finale which shows storm clouds, lightning, a forest of thorns, and a flame-spewing dragon-- all seamlessly bringing the story to a 75-minute conclusion. It stands, in my opinion, as Disney's masterpiece.
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Some films improve with age...'Sleeping Beauty' is one of them...
Neil Doyle15 April 2001
When 'Sleeping Beauty' was first released it was the target of critical villification--perhaps because of the more stylized art work. The art work is actually a leap forward from 'Snow White' and the earlier classics. It took me awhile to get used to the new technique when I first viewed the film--but now I recognize how effectively it manages to convey the "feel" of a genuine fairy-tale. A nice discussion of the art work is featured in 'The Making of Sleeping Beauty' which accompanies the latest VHS release of the film. Aside from the richly textured backgrounds and brilliant animation, 'Beauty' is blessed with the rapturous singing voice of Mary Costa's light soprano doing full justice to the ballad, 'Once Upon A Dream'. The idea of using Tchaikovsky's 'Sleeping Beauty' music for the background score and songs was an excellent decision. This is a film that can be enjoyed on so many different levels--music, animation, story, art work--it ranks with the very best of the classic fairy-tales from Disney. And yes, Maleficent, in all of her wicked glory, makes the most impressive fire-breathing dragon you're ever likely to see!
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One of Disney's best
Simplest possible explanation of what cements Sleeping Beauty's place as an immortal classic: Maleficent.

Sleeping Beauty was never one of my favorite Disney movies, my parents having lost the tape really early. Since maybe ten years I haven't seen the movie, but now, after seeing it again, I have to admit, it's a masterpiece. I don't understand why it was so berated on first release. Where the critics expecting Snow White? 'Cause this is no Snow White. It's much better.

A long, long time ago, in a kingdom far, far away, King Stefan and the Queen have a daughter, Aurora, so-called because she brought sunshine to their lives. There is a great celebration, and the neighboring kingdom's Prince Phillip is betrothed to Aurora. The three Good Fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, are invited. Flora and Fauna bestow gifts of beauty and song upon Aurora. Before Merryweather can cast her spell, the uninvited Maleficent--the Mistress of All Evil--arrives, furious at not being invited. She curses Aurora, predicting that at the age of sixteen the princess will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning-wheel and die. Merryweather counteracts this by making Aurora go into a deep sleep were she ever to prick her finger, to be reawakened by true love's first kiss. To keep her safe, the fairies take her into the forest, no longer using magic, and calling Aurora Briar Rose. The princess knows nothing of her heritage, and meets no other humans, except for a man "Once Upon A Dream".

One of the greatest things about the movie is the style. The contrast between characters and surroundings (except for Maleficent) is stark. The backgrounds and layouts are colorful, stylized, round and angular at the same time. The characters, however, aim for total realism, except for the minor ones, who are clearly cartoon characters. The animation is beautiful. The movements smooth, the artistry unbelievably high quality. If there was no other likable thing about the movie, the animation would go a long way to saving it.

The story of Sleeping Beauty is, of course, set in stone. Despite everyone's complete familiarity with the fairy tale, the movie manages to enliven it and make it gripping, even though everyone has heard it a thousand times. A most definite improvement in the story is the scene in which Aurora pricks her finger. In the original the spinning-wheel was owned by an innocent old peasant, who just happened to own the last wheel in the land, unnoticed by the rest of the world. In the movie Maleficent hypnotizes Aurora, and commands her to prick her finger. In addition to the atmosphere of foreboding already present in the story, the movie adds genuine suspense, largely owing to the brilliant presence of the wicked fairy.

The characterization is very different from other Disney movies in some ways, but very like others. Usually in Disney's princess movies, the princess herself is something of a cypher, a passive element. This is true for Sleeping Beauty (she has no control over the three basic actions in the movie). The prince usually has an even more minute part, although the story would be nothing without him. Not so this movie. Here Phillip is a much more active character, a hero who battles dragons and witches, who goes through all sorts of hazards. In Snow White all the unnamed prince does is show up and kiss our heroine, in Cinderella Charming risks nothing and is nothing but a prop. But the ultimate character is, of course, Maleficent. Supervised by Disney's women's animator-in-chief, Marc Davis, hers has to be one of the great performances in animation. She is brilliantly drawn, amazingly voiced, and the dragon she transforms into is not just a dragon: it is HER particular dragon (a method taken to greater lengths in The Sword in the Stone). She is magnificent. The three fairies are quarrelsome all right, but they are caricatures that convey particularly clearly their good-naturalness.

Sleeping Beauty is one of those irreplaceable masterpieces. It is a magnificent retelling of a classic fairy tale, with no undue distortion of the source material. Come to think of it, the story EXISTS to be made into a movie; it's just perfect. And near-perfection is what Disney achieved.

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Good Disney cartoon features Tchaikowsky's ballet
NewEnglandPat21 April 2003
This Disney cartoon feature has the familiar-princess-in-distress theme of a lovely girl, kind fairies, a handsome prince, forbidding castles and an evil witch. A perceived slight by a king and queen enrages a sorceress who casts an evil spell on the child that will take effect on her sixteenth birthday. Only her prince charming's kiss can save the girl from an unhappy fate and the frightening Maleficent stops at nothing to locate the princess in order to bring her prophecy to fruition. There are several pitched battles between the prince and the fairies against the forces of evil that accelerates into an exciting combat at the finish. The picture is bathed in beautiful color and the music of Tchaikowsky's ballet serves as a wonderful musical accompaniment.
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This High-Def Transfer Will Blow You Away!
ccthemovieman-17 December 2008
Quick......what was "Sleeping Beauty's" name? Answer: Either "Princess Aurora" or "Rose," depending on where she was.

Most of you probably know that but I didn't, probably because I hadn't watched this movie since it came out about a half century ago! I was a little kid, and never did see this again on TV or VHS. I only saw it again because several high-definition DVD websites said this looked spectacular on Blu-Ray.

How right they were; this looks incredible! I cannot believe how fantastic the artwork is, and sharp the picture comes through on this restored high-def disc. The colors and the amount of details in all the art are astounding. Many of the scenes had my jaw dropping in admiration. The story, frankly, is not anything that great for a man my age but the visuals are so fantastic that I enjoyed the experience.

I also appreciated the 2.55:1 widescreen picture. If you've only seen this on formatted-to-TV 4:3, and love the movie, you owe it to yourself to see this version. You won't believe how good this 1959 film looks.
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An Inspired Classic
EmperorNortonII24 June 2004
"Sleeping Beauty" is definitely a classic among the Disney animated features. It bears the distinction of being the first to be shot in 70mm widescreen format. The score borrows much from Tchaikovsky's classic ballet based on the Brothers Grimm tale. The art is beautiful, being inspired by medieval art. And the characters are delightful, particularly the three Good Fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. Malificient makes for a wonderful villainess, with awesome magical powers. Even those who would not call this Disney's best animated feature should agree that it harkens back to the famed studio's golden age. It's a classic that all ages can treasure!
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Ambitious and stylish
Atreyu_II17 August 2007
The 16th animated Disney classic is a fairy-tale but different from the other Disney classics because of its medieval artwork. It's not the fairy tale genre that makes this one of Disney's most distinguish Disney animated films, but its artwork. This artwork is stylish and obeys to high quality standards, not to mention that the sceneries and backgrounds are good in general.

This is one of the Disney classics which took more time to be made and perhaps one of their most ambitious. In fact, maybe because of its medieval artwork, it spent about 6 or 7 years in production. This spent nearly the whole 1950 decade in production. A very long time, even for an animated film. Only "The Black Cauldron" took as much time as this to be made, but we can't compare "The Black Cauldron" to the undeniably superior "Sleeping Beauty".

There is a curious fact that surrounds the movie's final scene (when Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora dance above the clouds): that "trick" was actually tried in "Cinderella", but they only managed to do it successfully in "Sleeping Beauty".

As a movie, generally speaking it is pretty good, happy, pleasant, magic, romantic, sometimes dramatic and emotional, while classic humor is not forgotten either (there are many funny moments, actually). On the other hand, this movie is also extremely dark in some parts, although it doesn't go as far as "The Black Cauldron" does when it comes to extreme darkness. Even if "Sleeping Beauty" has its dark side, it isn't much darker than what we see in many other Disney animated films.

Maleficent is the kind of villain I can't find a correct word to describe: an evil queen? A queen of darkness? An evil fairy? A witch? A sorceress? Whatever she is, she looks sinister, yet she isn't that scary considering her appearance. She's nowhere near as scary and chilly as the Horned King from "The Black Cauldron". Eleanor Audley, with that powerful voice, does a spectacular job as Maleficent's voice.

Aurora (aka "Briar Rose") is a gorgeous princess with an even more beautiful voice. She's also a wonderful singer. Mary Costa does beautifully her voice.

Prince Phillip is one of the coolest and most charming Disney princes of all time. And one of the funniest too. His horse Samson is one of the coolest and funniest horses of all time. Prince Phillip is brilliantly voiced by Bill Shirley.

The queen (Aurora's mother) appears very little during the whole movie (we only see her at the beginning and at the end). King Stephan is a great dude and King Hubert is quite a funny guy. An especially funny scene with them is when they are discussing about Phillip and Aurora and Hubert starts fighting with a fish as if it was a sword and they end up laughing of that. Both characters are greatly voiced by the respective actors.

As for the 3 good fairies (Fauna, Flora and Merryweather), I'd say that my favorite is Merryweather. She is the funniest of the three. Also, I like the blue dress better than the pink one (although both colors fit well on the dress). But the blue is always prettier than the pink.

The animals which Aurora meets in the forest are other charming characters. The funniest one is the owl. Speaking of animals, Maleficent's pet raven is an interesting character yet a bit annoying - what a snitch that thing is!

As for the soundtrack, it is entirely beautiful but the best is in "Once Upon a Dream" and the famous classical music "Sleeping Beauty ballet" by Tchaikovsky.

Just to finalize my review, this movie was very unsuccessful when it originally came out in 1959, almost bankrupting the Disney studio. But it won loyal fans through the years and reached a cult status. I guess you can say that time has been kind to it.
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Masterfully animated, great villain
Anssi Vartiainen19 July 2015
Sleeping Beauty is one of the more uneven Disney classics. Meaning that while some of its elements are frankly speaking revolutionary, culture-changing even, it has some other elements that are not really that good, not by Disney standards or even objectively.

First the good stuff. The animation is quite frankly among the best Disney has produced. Ever. The characters move with fluid grace, the colours defy believe and help the whole movie leap from the screen and the attention to detail is amazing. But it's the backgrounds which make this one of the, if not the best movie Disney has ever released. The designs are fantastically medieval, the amount of detail they have put into every frame is unbelievable and it's no wonder it took so long to produce and cost so much that it really had no realistic hope of making its money back. But it was worth it. This is animation art in its finest form. Every single frame worthy of being framed and hanged on the wall.

And then there's Maleficent, the finest Disney villain since the original Evil Queen from Snow White, and the first one to truly eclipse her. And she's still amazing. Eleanor Audley really gives her a threatening presence with her voice alone. She can be quietly menacing when she needs to be, but when she's truly enraged, she also has the lungs to back it up. Plus the character design, the storyline, they're all enough to cement her as one of the great ones.

Then the bad stuff. Aurora and Prince Phillip are awful. Their character designs are great, but they have no screen time to build chemistry, their romance is one of the quickest even by Disney standards, their storyline is not interesting and as a whole they're a dreadful bore.

Luckily the three fairymothers are a lot of fun. They're not on Maleficent's level, but they hold the movie together admirably.

Sleeping Beauty is one of the best Disney movies. It's not the best because quite frankly I can't stand the romantic couple in it, but aside from that, it holds a dear place in my heart.
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A delight from start to finish
tomgillespie200221 September 2014
If there's one thing that separates the classic Disney era from it's modern efforts, then it was their ability to truly bring a fairytale to life. The moral and narrative simplicity of the fairytale formula is now portrayed somewhat cynically, with their black-and-white ethics and la-de-da princesses receiving a lampooning in the likes of Shrek (2001) and Enchanted (2007). Although this can make for clever and amusing viewing, it makes it easy to forget how beguiling these stories can be. Sleeping Beauty is one of Disney's finest, and a perfect example of how the make-believe world of witches, fairies, kings and princesses can truly enthral and fill a young heart with wonder.

King Stefan and Queen Leah welcome the birth of their daughter, Princess Aurora (Mary Costa), and invite their subjects to pay homage at their castle. The baby is thrice blessed by the three good fairies, Flora (Verna Felton), Fauna (Barbara Jo Allen) and Merryweather (Barbara Luddy), until the evil sorceress Maleficent (Eleanor Audley) gate-crashes the party. Maleficent curses the princess and announces that on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. The curse is dented somewhat when Merryweather intercepts, meaning that Aurora will not die, but will fall into an eternal sleep unless she receives true love's kiss.

Inspired by the Brothers Grimm's Little Briar Rose and The Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault, the film, under the directorial supervision of Clyde Geronimi, has some of the finest animation work ever put out by Disney. The last Disney film to use hand-inked cells, animators Marc Davis, Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman and Eric Larson, create a beautiful world reminiscent of the colourful Medievals film that were so popular in the 1950's, when Technicolor was a-booming. The climax, which sees the horned demon Maleficent turn into a dragon, was revolutionary in it's day and is still unnervingly striking today. The romance between Aurora and her betrothed - the amusingly named Prince Phillip (Bill Shirley) - is rather unconvincing and wishy-washy, but it does little damage to a movie that is a delight from start to finish.
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Tolkien and Tchaikovsky meet at the Magic Kingdom
marcusman4825 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Walt Disney - whether as cartoonist, filmmaker, impresario, or business mogul - was so innovative in so many ways that some of his more distinctive innovations tend to get lost in the shuffle. One important way in which he was a pioneer was the introduction of European expressionistic film techniques to American family audiences. This truth is rarely acknowledged, but it had enormous consequences for popular culture. While the expressionist style had been employed by American filmmakers before, Disney was the first to fuse that aesthetic with the bubblegum realm in which he dealt - the realm of fairy tales, caricatures, and slapstick. This marriage of high and low cultural forms would pave the way for many filmmakers in the years ahead, the most obvious example probably being Tim Burton (who started out, appropriately enough, as a Disney animator). And perhaps no animated feature that Walt oversaw between the 1930s and his death in 1966 exemplifies this style as superbly as SLEEPING BEAUTY.

Even while watching this as a child, I readily grasped that SLEEPING BEAUTY was of a breed quite different from most of what Disney had created either before or since. Perhaps most obviously, the animation is about as exquisite as one could hope from a movie made in the days before computer technology. Unlike the forest in SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, for example, the forest in this film looks real. There is some depth to it, as well as a juxtaposition of light and shade. It is the kind of forest that seems to harbor secrets - a place where you would not be at all shocked to stumble upon a lonely cottage or see the mysterious flickering of fluorescent lights in the night.

Even more profound, however, is the film's provocative thematic language. Though the story itself - the rescue of a princess from the forces of evil by a swashbuckling prince and his fairy allies - is starkly simple, the setting is finely textured both psychologically and culturally. Prior to the 1990s, this was probably Disney's most morally mature work; evil here is not some freakish or even alien phenomenon, but something disturbingly ordinary that seems to stalk the characters through every moment of their lives. The Gothic citadel of the wicked sprite Maleficent, from its perch atop Forbidden Mountain, looms over the countryside as a permanent and highly visible threat. When night falls, the heroic characters scuttle fearfully through the dusky shadows that extend over the land; it can be difficult to tell friend from foe. When the naive Prince Philip knocks on the door of Aurora's cottage and hears a sweet female voice greeting him, he has no way of knowing that a mob of batlike demons is about to fall upon him.

SLEEPING BEAUTY holds the rare distinction of being both universalist and groundbreaking. To a child, everything is immediately recognizable: the forest, the castle, Maleficent's lair. But Disney goes even further, imbuing each locale with an individual and wholly organic character that nonetheless collectively constitutes a thematic whole. It is hard to put a name to such a luscious style (medieval Gothic expressionist?); but the nooks and crannies would eventually find their way into other Disney films (most notably THE SWORD IN THE STONE) and then into other multimedia entertainments. Perhaps a little ironically, Disney was - whether consciously or not - drawing upon idioms that existed in 1950s culture but had yet to register on the mass-media radar. Most obviously, his knack for rendering rich landscapes and evoking themes that united pagan fantasy with Christian morality owed much to the mythology created by J. R. R. Tolkien of THE LORD OF THE RINGS fame. (It is difficult not to liken Forbidden Mountain to Mount Doom, where the climax of THE RETURN OF THE KING takes place.) Baby-boomers who might have seen SLEEPING BEAUTY as children would almost surely have noticed its motifs retooled in the 1960s paperback editions of Tolkien's books, and later in the fairy-tale rock of such 1970s musical groups as Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, and Heart.

And speaking of music, there is only one instance in which the ballets of Tchaikovsky were more perfectly realized in cinematic form: Disney's other expressionist masterpiece, FANTASIA. Tchaikovsky's composing style is ideal for the staging of fairy tales: more than any other composer of the nineteenth century, he possessed a talent for writing music that called to mind such rarefied notions and images that it seemed almost to be otherworldly. (Igor Stravinsky, whose RITE OF SPRING was also memorably mounted in a sequence in FANTASIA, is another such composer.) Some traditionalists were appalled by the interweaving of original lyrics with Tchaikovsky's immortal music in SLEEPING BEAUTY; but considering that the lyrics fit the music perfectly, I didn't mind at all.

SLEEPING BEAUTY takes place in a Manichean world of extremes, where the eternal questions of existence must be forcefully answered and where the villain must not be merely defeated but destroyed. And it is one of the few Disney films to acknowledge a world beyond: "Now you will deal with me....and all the powers of HELL!" But if there is a Hell, there must be a Heaven: Aurora and Philip do live "happily ever after," but not without a period of trial where it must be decided whether "evil die and good endure."
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joliefille41126 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie gets 10 points on it's look alone. It is stunning to watch, especially in the widescreen format. The amount of detail and effort that went into it blows my mind. Being an art student, I appreciate this kind of work tremendously. The music is also exquisite, taken from the famous ballet.

The story is good enough- I love the feisty Merriweather, and it has my favorite prince- Phillip. He was the first Disney prince to actually have any development or really do something. Another thing is this movie is not goofy at all! Yes, it has some cutesy forest creatures, but they don't talk and they aren't overly cartooney. Instead, there is some truly funny dialogue and situational comedy that doesn't pander to a 5 year old sensibility. Besides, we have Maleficent, an amazing, dark, seductive villain. She is never weak or unintimidating. I would be terrified to go against her.

Overall, one of my favorite Disney films alongside Hunchback and Beauty and the Beast. The most beautiful piece of animation ever- hands down.

Quote of the film:

  • You poor simple fools. Thinking you could defeat me, ME! The Mistress of All Evil!
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Awaken to a World of Wonders!
Jessica Carvalho22 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
''Sleeping Beauty ''is one of the classics and one of the most famous movies from Disney as well.The cute and little princess Aurora is going to be introduced to all people of the kingdom in a big party made in her celebration. Everybody is having fun and gives Aurora's presents. (including her future husband,Prince Phillip) Until Maleficent, the bad witch, comes up and angry because she was not invited to the princess'party curses Aurora: she will die on her 16th birthday, after touching a poisoned spinning wheel. Everybody stays in panic, but for Aurora's lucky, the three nice fairies Flora, Fauna & Merryweather gives her gifts for her future, and one of them is that the curse that Maleficent made was not eternal, and only will be when Aurora's prince gives her a kiss. Anyway, the Queen and the King prefer not to risk, and agree to send their daughter to live in the forest with the fairies, with the identity of Briar Rose. They all live without magic, and without Aurora knowing about her past, since the identity of her godmothers until the fact she is a princess. The years passed and Aurora is now 16. Everything was going well to deny the curse, but with Philiph and Aurora's meet in the woods and the fact that Aurora and the three fairies are being watched,makes the situation change and many risks starts to come.
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My personal favourite of the early Disneys
TheLittleSongbird22 February 2009
Everything about this film is beautiful. The characters, the music and the animation.

The animation was lovely. It looks flat to some people, but to me it looks absolutely beautiful, and has a gorgeous stylistic look. The best scenes were actually the darker scenes, especially the climax, which is one of Disney's best. But I have to say the forest is one of the most beautifully animated forests in a Disney film. Sleeping Beauty mayn't have the strongest story development in a Disney movie, but neither the ballet or the fairytale have the best story development either, no matter how beautiful the film really is.

The characters were unforgettable. Whilst Aurora was the weakest character, she was made into a beautiful woman with lots of grace, class and charm, who dreamed of falling in love, and Mary Costa's vocals were sublime. Phillip is also well done, but these two characters don't say much in comparison, I noticed, except Phillip has some great lines. The forest scene with the animals was charming, and you have to laugh at the three fairies when they tried to make the dress. The fairies added a huge amount to this film, as did Meleficent, who terrified me when I was younger. There was a long time when I was so scared of her and the part when she entices Aurora to the spinning wheel, that I refused to see the film for about two years.

The music by Tchaikovsky was outstanding. He is a fantastic composer, one of my all time favourites. The music to the climax has been imitated by many Disneys but never as well. I recommend you see the ballet, which bears little resemblance to the film itself, but the music is a knockout, like Beethoven's Choral Symphony.

In conclusion, an ambitious(being the most expensive Disney project) but beautiful film, that has captivated me since I was little, and I am 16 now. 10/10. Bethany Cox
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Not so much "Sleeping Beauty" so much as "The Three Good Fairies"
Chris Mizerak18 May 2014
Walt Disney's 16th full-length animated feature "Sleeping Beauty" (1959) could really be retitled "The Three Good Fairies" instead. The reason being is that its narrative, oddly enough, puts more focus on them than it ever does on the title character. But I'll have more to say about that later. Let's briefly discuss the plot. If you think about it, "Sleeping Beauty" is just "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) all over again. Only instead of seven dwarfs and a poison apple, we get three fairies and a spinning wheel. A princess named Aurora is cursed at birth by a witch named Maleficent who states that on her 16th birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. The three good fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather assist King Stefan and the Queen by raising Aurora in a cottage somewhere deep in the woods. By doing this, they hope to prevent Maleficent and her minions from finding her. When this curse is broken, King Stefan and King Hubert hope to unite their kingdoms by having Prince Philip marry Aurora.

It's pretty safe to say that those who've seen this picture know what will happen next, and I can't discuss anything further to the few of those who haven't. But remember when I said that "Sleeping Beauty" is just "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" all over again? Well, that statement could best summarize my overall opinion of the picture as well as its main problem. If you've seen "Snow White", you've technically seen "Sleeping Beauty", too. In other words, there is very little that's new here. The two main aspects about this film that do stand out for me is the musical score and the animation style. George Bruns did a masterful job with executing the film's epic and grand musical score. Amongst the film's most soothing and healing songs are "Once Upon a Dream", "One Gift", and the title tune. The animation and backgrounds in this picture really take advantage of the widescreen process and make you feel as if you're seeing a medieval painting unfold right in front of you.

While "Sleeping Beauty" does work very well on a visual and audio level, its story and characters fall hopelessly flat. The only interesting characters for me were the three good fairies. It's not because two of them are fighting over which color will suit the princess best. It's not even because they're the characters that get the most focus. It's because they have personality. I like that we can see their struggles with not using their magic especially when they've been so dependent on their wands. Merryweather is the notable standout for me because of just how blunt she is and how she seemingly speaks her mind. I know many people freak out over Maleficent as a Disney villain and consider her one of the best villains put out by the studio. One can definitely see her enjoyment over what she's doing when she's on screen. In my opinion, she COULD be a great villain if only she were given more screen time. As it is though, the quality of Maleficent as a character basically summarizes the picture in a nutshell. The potential is there, but all I can ask afterwards is this. Is that it? Is that all we've got?

One of the most critical flaws of "Sleeping Beauty" is Aurora herself. I am absolutely astonished that in this 75-minute picture, no more than 20% of screen time is devoted to her. I know that a certain event in the story has to happen because it's part of the original tale, so I won't complain about that plot point. But couldn't the writers have given more screen time to her beforehand? I guess they had more interest in developing the good fairies more so than Aurora, because it's something they hadn't done before. It still doesn't excuse a major character in the story from barely being on screen. The prince is probably the best developed out of the three Disney princess movies made while Walt was alive ("Snow White", "Cinderella", and "Sleeping Beauty"). It isn't saying much, since the others were barely present in the other films to start with. By the way, nice going on Aurora's parents, guys. I'm sure I'll somehow remember the brief 5-7 minutes they appeared on screen. At least I remembered King Hubert for when he was screen for more than 10 minutes. Way to pay attention to detail.

More than anything else though, it is the inexplicable amount of time given to the title character that really kills the potential that "Sleeping Beauty" had. Save for one song, the film's music is simply sensational. I highly endorse the animation style and the atmosphere that Disney's animators created. I even think that the three good fairies have enough character to them that they almost deserve to have as much time as they ended up having. The film, however, just doesn't work on a writing level. And that frustrates me because Walt Disney and his narrative crew are known to be some of the greatest storytellers the film industry had ever seen. Perhaps I won't know why Disney and his crew felt that the decisions they made with the narrative were or weren't the right ones. All I can say is that "Sleeping Beauty" is a definitive example of style over substance.
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Once upon a Disney Classic!
OllieSuave-00721 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is another classic from Walt Disney, a story about a princess who was placed on a sleeping spell from a snubbed, vengeful witch, Maleficent, in which only a prince can break.

This movie has beautiful animation work, rich in color and very vibrant. I loved the artwork design of the castle, which served as an inspiration of the Sleeping Beauty castles you see in Disney theme parks around the world. The characters are memorable, especially the three good fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merriweather, who will suspend reality with magic they use like making a cottage clean by itself and counterattacking Maleficent's wicked tricks. Maleficent, I think, is one of the more notorious, yet memorable Disney villains. Prince Phillip was one of the Disney princes that actually takes on a more active role in a movie, as opposed to the more obscure princes in Snow White and Cinderella. And, the King and Queen gave an emblematic representation of what royalty typically looks like: gold crowns with flowing garbs, headdresses and capes, sitting on tall thrones.

The music is superb, an adaptation of the Sleeping Beauty Ballet from Peter Tchaikovsky. The Waltz sung by Princess Aurora is my favorite piece in the movie. And, the story is fast-paced with an exciting rescue-the-princess and sword-wielding climax.

The only downsides I think exists in this movie is that Princess Aurora (the Sleeping Beauty) had too little screen time and too much focus was on the Three Fairies. Also, it is said in the story that the King and Queen wanted badly to have a child. So, when Princess Aurora was born, the joy of having a child was short-lived because Aurora was taken into hiding by the fairies to escape Maleficent's curse; therefore, it is like the King and Queen got a raw deal out of this. But, other than that, a very satisfying movie that remains one of my favorite Disney classics.

Grade A-
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Such a wonderful Disney classic.
Mightyzebra6 February 2008
Not insulting Disney, this just does not seem like a Disney film. There are many scary scenes (which are likely to disturb anyone aged under 9 or so) and there are many scenes that will make much more sense to adults than to children. There are also many references to what life was like in the Medieval ages (not counting the fantasy scenes of course), including the fact that it was quite normal (or even a little late) for girls to marry when they are 16. In none of Disney's other films is there this kind of reference.

Aside of these points, there is stunning Disney charm, animation, humour for just about everyone and this film also includes pieces from Tchaicovsky's ballet. The characters and plot of course also help make up this wonderful animated film. The only negative point is the fact that it strays quite far from the original fairy tale, but in some cases this is not really a bad thing.

You may know the story already. A baby girl is born to a king and queen and three good fairies bless the child with a gift. Although - at first it is only two. Just as the third fairy is about to bless her gift, the bad fairy Malecifent gives the baby a bad gift, that she will die on her 16th birthday. The good fairy helps turn this around, but only in a little way...

Recommended to anyone who likes the fairytale, the ballet or the princess stuff of "Sleeping Beauty". Enjoy! :-)
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Disney Imitates Disney....
tmpj27 August 2010
Disney's animation projects appeared to be running out of steam in this warmed over, under the radar imitation of "Snow White". The animation world had changed dramatically in the 22 years since Disney first delved into features. This one, while charming and darkly scary to some, was a bit of a bore for me. I could never really get "Snow White" out of my head. The similarities in the stories should have been enough to tell Walt to let it go...and let someone else do this one. Snow White had a Prince who kissed her and broke the does Sleeping Beauty. Wicked Witches? Both stories have one. But the first time was the best time, and in this film Disney had no real message. As for Fairy Godmothers...Cinderella had one...and he cast some of the same people over and over again to add to the monotony. Verna Felton comes to mind. She was a familiar figure on TV by now, as well as having been a familiar and identifiable voice on radio in the 40s with Judy Canova as well as Eve Arden...amongst others. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty both survived murder plots against them. Both were of royal blood...the similarities are striking. As I watched the making of this feature in the short film afterwards, I wondered how Walt could look into the camera with a straight face and claim anything new or strikingly original about this film. The technology had advanced, of course...but none of it was his...or very little of it. It was shot on 70mm film because the film world was being choked to death by TV, and processes such as Cinemascope were coming into play in a vain effort to recapture the once captive theater audience that would never again be captive. The film was successful and Walt made his money...but that was largely marketing...he had something now that he did not have when Snow White was in theatrical release...and that was the millions of baby-boomers who were not yet born when Snow White was made. But a lot of them would see Snow White, and would voice the same similarities at one point or another that are being voiced here. Not to take anything away from Disney...his encounters early on in his career had sharpened his business sense. But, for me, Sleeping Beauty is more an entertainment vehicle and a money maker, and not one of the truly innovative Disney films. In fact, as animation became more and more condensed as the 60s came around, Disney, as well as his animation counterparts in other arenas, would come to rely more upon development of characters as real animation was thrown to the four winds. This feature was made just prior to the animation low point in which Disney films would languish until the late 1980s or early 90s, when interest in animation would be revitalized. I can say no more about Sleeping Beauty other than some may find entertainment value in it. But I prefer Snow White over Sleeping Beauty any day of the week.
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Excellent Animation and Gothic Overtones
ersinkdotcom8 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The evil sorceress Maleficent places a curse on Princess Aurora after being slighted by the royal family. She will die by pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel before her 16th birthday. The king puts his daughter in the care of three fairies who take her into hiding to keep the tragedy from occurring. Maleficent becomes obsessed with finding the girl and fulfilling her evil spell.

I was pleasantly reminded of the dark elegance of Maleficent and the strong Gothic overtones presented in "Sleeping Beauty." They reminded me of the atmosphere found in the underrated "The Black Cauldron" and "Hunchback of Notre Dame." Being a fan of horror movies, I was attracted to the last quarter of the film more so than the first three.
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If not the best, maybe the most defining classic of Disney's animated features ...
ElMaruecan8221 June 2013
My first experience with "Sleeping Beauty" was at the end of my 2nd grade year, the film's magic simply blew my mind, the bell rung shortly after the christening part and we never could finish the film. Coincidentally, the same year, I saw the climactic fight with the dragon in a Disney TV's special yet the second act remained a total mystery and I never thought I missed much since I was already familiar with the best bits, including the incomparable Tchaikovsky's waltz theme of the same name. But after a series of missed opportunities, I finally watched Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" all the way.

Still, it wasn't that new an experience, I remember being mesmerized by the TV versions of the classic fairy-tale, I saw two when I was 9, and the story had no secret for me, especially because the two films where relatively faithful to Perrault's original book (in one of them, Aurora was actually named 'Briar Rose' and I thought it was just an artistic license). Speaking of the story, I thought it was surprisingly dark, projecting our deepest fears like being struck by a malevolent curse such as the spindle of the wheel, and living in the constant fear that it would be complete, not to mention the creepy vision of a whole town put in a comatose state for a whole century, a device that a child could easily assimilate to death.

Although it deviates from the original material, "Sleeping Beauty" magnificently renders the sinister atmosphere of the story and one of its strongest aspects relies on the depiction of magic through the eternal opposites: good and evil. Disney's animated movies have always provided the best art-form when it came to vehicle these fantastic elements and as a result, the animation is absolutely dazzling whether it induces fear of amazement. The three fairies are magnificently characterized thanks to the wise choice of reducing their number to three and making them physically different, and Maleficent has this mix of elegance and darkness that perfectly suits her status as a Disney villain. In fact, for a Disney film, the film gets strangely explicit by always referring to the antagonism between good and evil through the devilish incarnation of Maleficent, who's more than your usual Witch.

And perhaps this is the main achievement of "Sleeping Beauty", to exploit familiar archetypes from previous Disney classics, without recycling them. Maleficent is a class on her own and is never comparable to the Evil Queen from "Snow White" and the three fairies are much more motherly and three-dimensional figures than the jolly Godmother from "Cinderella". "Sleeping Beauty" goes even further by eschewing one of the dullest archetypes from the other films: the nameless and bland Prince. This time, Philip, to name him, becomes the first truly heroic Prince of Disney, the one who really struggled to get to Aurora and bless her with a true love kiss. Released in 1959, after several years of preparation and pre-production, anyone could tell Disney wanted to make a new movie out of familiar material.

Now, there are two aspects in the film that certainly divide opinions. One being the small screen-presence of Aurora, which probably suffers from the fact that the Prince, the fairies, Maleficent and even the Kings are given more preeminent roles. For some viewers, Aurora is dull, passive or under-developed at best. The second is animation, the realism of the background, the magnificent way it renders some of the most beautiful medieval paintings, and make you look at the film as a new milestone in Disney's canon, some might find it too linear or geometrical, foreshadowing the evolution of Disney's animation to a more sketchy format, and regret the most rounded aspect of Disney's previous film, the one that Disney Renaissance would resurrect with "The Little Mermaid".

Characters and animation either support or cancel one another. I, for one, thought that the animation was perfect for the film, that "Sleeping Beauty" is a masterpiece on the animation level, even more impressive since the film was still hand-drawn and didn't rely on the Xerox process that would be used for "One Hundred and One Dalmatians". Known for being the first to be shot in Technirama process, the large scope of the film allowed the team to be more perfectionism in the depiction of backgrounds whether for castles or forests, multiplying by ten the delays of production. But for what a result! I can only envy those who saw the film in a large screen; no castle has even been more frightening than Maleficent's, conveying the Gothic atmosphere the story required. The same year than Ben-Hur, Disney proved to be capable of making blockbusters, technically speaking.

And the drawing plays an interesting role, by canceling the eventual blandness of Aurora. She not only is the best-looking of all Disney princesses but her facial features also suggest a strongest and most modern personality, like a younger version of Lauren Bacall. Given the role she's supposed to have in the original story, the main players being the fairies, Maleficent and the Prince, her lack of screen-presence doesn't damage her characterization at all, hell, even her smile when she's waken up isn't the same ecstatic enthusiasm than Snow White but rather looks like a clever 'here you are' wink. The four roles are fairly distributed and the best thing it did was to spare us from too much cute little animals as time-fillers.

If not as revolutionary as "Snow White" or as popular as "The Lion King", the film features three classic scenes, so-defining of what Disney stood for: the magic christening, the climactic good vs. bad battle, and naturally, the magnificent kiss. "Sleeping Beauty" uses all the archetypes of the fairy-tales and Disney previous successes and the result is a classic masterpiece of Animation, certainly the most defining of Disney, since even the castle where Aurora lies in the highest tower became Walt Disney's all-time trademark.
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One of the best Disney animated fairy tales of all time
workshyslacker17 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this when I was younger and I didn't like it. Why? There weren't enough cute, furry animals or catchy songs to hold my attention. The colours also looked faded and dull. I kept wondering why Aurora's hair looked a dirty blonde yet it was described as "sunshine gold". The characters seemed a little flat, and most of the dialogue went over my head.

I re-watched this movie (as the 2 disc Platinum edition) nearly 18 years later and my opinion has completely changed. The animation, sound and colours have been restored to their former glory to when it was first shown in 1959. The previous editions on VHS and re-issues in the cinema were of the aged, dirty film with a deteriorating soundtrack. I felt short-changed; my opinion of the film was affected by watching the less than pristine version.

I think "Sleeping Beauty" as a whole appeals more to adults than children. The animation is top-notch and specifically styled to look like a medieval tapestry, and the dialogue is sophisticated and fluent. The plot a little more subtle than I remembered. Maleficent's soliloquy is bone-chillingly perfect. Her plan diabolical; she intends not to kill the Prince but to imprison him so after 100 years he will awaken his princess who has not aged (!) I can't imagine a crueler fate than to know that precious time afforded by love will be stolen from you. All too often Disney villains are painted with broad comical brush strokes and it is difficult to fear them. Here, Maleficent is truly evil; intent on destroying peoples' lives on just a whim; being snubbed at a party.

This also the first time Disney gave the Prince a name. He is given subtleties never before afforded to his predecessors; warmth, humour, flirtatious and witty; "Now, Father, this is the fourteenth century..."

There are dark segments to this film that may not be appropriate for the very young, the thrilling final battle with the dragon may be too scary. In my opinion, it is one of the best sequences of good vs evil that has never been topped for sheer adrenaline (except maybe the end of "The Little Mermaid").

True, there are problems with the film. The titular character has very little to do and little screen time. The cute animals don't sit well with the sharp, angular patterns of the backgrounds. The fairies dominate the story and perhaps more time should have been given to the interaction between Aurora and Philip.

The use of Tchaikovsky's score gives the movie a timeless quality but also a more subdued feel than the rousing scores of other Disney movies e.g. Aladdin, that certainly didn't appeal to me as a child.

So if you didn't like this movie initially, I urge you to watch it again in its restored format. I felt I was watching it for the first time.
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Some enchanted movie
jc-osms11 April 2010
For some reason, there's a whole swathe of classic 40's and 50's Disney classics I've not yet seen, including "Cinderella", "Pinocchio", "Dumbo", "Bambi", "101 Dalmations", "The Lady & The Tramp" and up until now, this lovely, warming re-telling of the classic "love conquers all" fairy tale.

It's a long time since I've sat so rapt by a movie, an animated one at that, my eyes and ears never leaving the screen, even knowing as we all do, how the story ends. Delightfully old-fashioned, no doubt reflecting the solid family values of Eisenhower's late 50's America, I'll take "Sleeping Beauty"'s wide-eyed innocence to today's knowing, post-modern cynicism and I speak as a fan of the whole "Shrek" franchise! Only once did I detect the encroachment of the modern, with references to "this is the fourteenth century, you know!", but this was only the mildest of jarrings if I'm being honest.

The animation is delightful, particularly the backgrounds and there are some particularly eye-catching segments, two I particularly liked being the three good fairies' transformation into pixie-size and one of Malificent's entrances where she's reduced to a set of eye-slits and green light.

Tchaikovsky's orchestral music is lovely, although some of the songs are a little starchy plus there's a bit too much of the young lovers' royal fathers if I'm carping, but with its gentle humour ("make it pink, make it blue") and sheer Disney magic firmly in place, this delightful movie will waft all but the coldest heart to a lovely place long ago and far away.
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