Aurora (Disney character)
Aurora in the blue rendition of her famous color-changing ballgown.
|First appearance||Sleeping Beauty (1959)|
|Created by||Charles Perrault|
|Voiced by||Mary Costa (original 1959 film)|
|Full name||Princess Aurora|
|Family||King Stefan (father)
Queen Leah (mother)
|Significant other(s)||Prince Philip|
Princess Aurora (also known as Sleeping Beauty or by her alias "Briar Rose") is a fictional character who appears in Walt Disney Pictures' 16th animated feature film Sleeping Beauty (1959). Originally voiced by American singer Mary Costa, Aurora is born the only child of King Stefan and Queen Leah. As revenge for not being invited to Aurora's christening, an evil fairy named Maleficent curses the newborn princess, foretelling that she will die on her 16th birthday by pricking her finger on a spinning wheel's spindle. Determined to prevent this, three good fairies raise Aurora in seclusion as a peasant in order to protect her, patiently awaiting her 16th birthday – the day the spell is to be broken by a kiss from her true love, Prince Philip.
Aurora is based on the princess in Charles Perrault's fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty", as well as the heroine in the Brothers Grimm's retelling of the story, "Little Briar Rose". For several years, Walt Disney struggled to find a suitable actress to voice the film's heroine, and nearly abandoned the project because of this dilemma until Costa was incidentally discovered by composer Walter Schumann when he heard the singer perform at a dinner party. However, Costa's strong southern accent nearly cost her the role until she proved capable of sustaining a fake British accent, similar to the way in which British actress Vivien Leigh portrayed a southerner for her starring role in Gone with the Wind (1939).
In order to accommodate the unprecedentedly detailed backgrounds of the film – honed by artistic director Eyvind Earle – Aurora's refined design demanded more attention than had ever been spent on an animated character before, drawing inspiration from Art Nouveau. Animated by Marc Davis, Aurora's slender figure was inspired by the elegant features of British actress Audrey Hepburn. With only 18 lines of dialogue and equally as few minutes of screen time, the character speaks less than any other speaking main character in a full-length Disney animated feature film.
Chronologically, Aurora is the third Disney Princess. When Sleeping Beauty was first released in 1959, the film was both a critical and commercial failure, which discouraged the studio from adapting fairy tales into animated films for decades. Aurora herself received negative reviews for her passivity and overall similarity to Snow White, and would remain Disney's last princess until The Little Mermaid's Ariel debuted 30 years later in 1989. However, Costa's vocal performance was praised, which inspired her to pursue a full-time career as an opera singer, to great success. Costa was officially recognized as a Disney Legend in 1999. Despite having since established herself as a popular character for her beauty and fashion, Aurora's personality continues to receive negative attention, particularly from feminist critics, and has thus earned her a reputation as one of Disney's worst princesses among the media.
- 1 Development
- 2 Appearances
- 3 In other media
- 4 Trademark
- 5 Reception and legacy
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Conception and writing
Filmmaker Walt Disney had been attempting to adapt the fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" into a full-length animated feature film for several years, basing it on both Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm's renditions of the popular story. Disney was considering abandoning the film completely until he discovered singer Mary Costa, the casting of whom as the film's heroine finally allowed the project to progress from development to production.
At the time of Aurora's conception, there had only been two other Disney princesses: Snow White and Cinderella, the heroines of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Cinderella (1950), respectively. Disney strove to ensure that Aurora differed from Snow White, but several strong similarities remain between the two characters. Gary Susman of Moviefone observed, "an evil witch jealous of a young and beautiful princess, the princess hiding out in a woodland cottage with a group of comic-relief caretakers (three fairies instead of seven dwarfs), and the witch putting the princess into a deathlike sleep, from which only true love's kiss can awaken her." In the original fairy tale, the princess sleeps for a century before she is finally awoken; this was altered for the film adaptation in order to introduce Prince Philip earlier, and thus Aurora is awoken much sooner.
Aurora's names are borrowed from both Perrault and the Brothers Grimm's versions of the fairy tale. While Perrault referred to his princess as "Aurora", the Brothers Grimm named her "Little Briar Rose". This ultimately inspired Disney to use both, with the latter serving as the character's alias during the period in which she hides from Maleficent. According to The Dissolve's Noel Murray, the film's plot serves as a metaphor about a "young woman being cautioned to avoid penetration." Similarly, Carrie R. Wheadon, writing for Common Sense Media, interpreted Aurora being awoken by a handsome prince as symbolic of a young woman's "transition to adulthood and sexual awakening." Aurora was the last Disney princess to have been conceived by Walt Disney himself before his death in 1966.
Aurora is voiced by American singer Mary Costa, who was only 22 years old when she was cast as the character in 1952. Costa had grown up a fan of Disney films, the first of which she saw was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs when she was six years old. As a child, Costa adored the film so much that she would imitate Snow White, parading around her house wearing a bath towel as a makeshift cape, eventually inspiring her mother to sew her a cape of her own, which remains one of her favorite presents to-date. Costa referred to her successfully garnering the role of Aurora as simply a case of "being in the right place at the right time." The filmmakers had long been struggling to cast Aurora, having been searching for the right voice for the character for three years. Disney himself had been preparing to shelve the project unless a suitable voice actress could be found; he strongly believed that the same person should provide both the character's speaking and singing voices. Costa was attending a dinner party for the entertainment industry, to which she had been invited by a friend in hopes of introducing her to some influential people. Costa performed the popular standard "When I Fall in Love". Her rendition was heard by film composer Walter Schumann who, impressed by her vocals, approached Costa about possibly voicing Aurora and inviting her to audition for the role the following morning. In spite of doubts that she would actually be cast, Costa agreed simply because she longed to meet Walt Disney. Upon arriving at the studio the next day, composer George Bruns calmed Costa's nerves by asking her to perform a bird call, which she did successfully. However, being originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, Costa's strong southern accent nearly prevented her from being cast until she proved capable of maintaining a fake British accent for the entire film. The filmmakers likened the situation to English actress Vivien Leigh successfully feigning a southern accent for her role as Southern belle Scarlet O'Hara in the film Gone With the Wind (1939). Within hours, Walt Disney himself contacted Costa via telephone to offer her the job, which she immediately accepted.
Costa communicated with Walt Disney at least twice a week over a period of nine months, but almost exclusively via telephone because he feared that her personality or physical appearance would influence his vision of Aurora if they were to meet in person. They first met when Costa was preparing to record the song "Once Upon a Dream". When Costa asked Disney why he decided to cast her as Aurora out of all the "beautiful" voices he had heard, the filmmaker explained that it was because Costa's singing voice simply sounded "like an extension of speech." A combination of classical and popular vocals, Disney expounded that her voice "was not puffed up and you didn't put extra color into it. You just sang with a warm tone from your heart." The filmmaker advised Costa to "paint with [her] voice", as well as refuse to allow any other individuals to demonstrate her lines for her. Disney and Costa developed a special father-daughter bond. Aurora's supervising animator Marc Davis would often observe and sketch Costa while she was working in order to incorporate some of her mannerisms into the character. Costa worked closely with actresses Verna Felton, Barbara Jo Allen and Barbara Luddy, the voices of Flora, Fauna and Merryweather respectively, with whom she became good friends, while declaring the utmost respect for actress Eleanor Audley, voice of Maleficent. She also recorded alongside actor Bill Shirley, voice of Prince Philip, admitting to having had a "crush" him. Costa cites the scene in which Aurora and Philip meet as her favorite. Schumann, the composer responsible for discovering Costa, eventually passed away before the film was completed.
Costa's vocals are responsible for introducing operatic singing to Disney films. Aurora's songs were recorded within the first year of production. Costa would perform her songs live with the orchestra prior to recording them. After working on the film for three years, Costa finally finished recording in 1955, long before the film was completed; it would take the animators another several years to complete the footage to accompany Costa's vocals and dialogue. Costa would often return to the studio to re-record lines as the story changed and evolved, which she described as a "painstaking" process. However, with only 18 spoken lines, Aurora speaks less than any other main character in a full-length Disney animated feature – aside from Dumbo, who is completely silent – and has absolutely no dialogue once she is awoken from her deep sleep. The character's lack of dialogue is attributed to the fact that she remains asleep for the majority of the film. Ultimately, Costa's performance in Sleeping Beauty – and Walt Disney himself – inspired her to pursue a career as a full-time professional opera singer.
Personality and design
Aurora's blurb on the Disney Princess website cites the character as "gentle and loving". Walt Disney introduced Aurora to Costa as "a very layered character", expounding, "She's different. She's calm, yet she's playful. She has a sense of humor, and she has an imagination." Despite popular opinion that Aurora is a very passive character, Costa believes that the princess is actually "very strong", citing her urge to defy her guardians as an example of her strength, while referring to the character as "a beautiful personification of femininity." Raised exclusively by three women in a very sheltered environment, Aurora had never been exposed to a man prior to meeting Philip. Costa believes that, because of this, Aurora is "innately romantic" as opposed to simply lonely, explaining, "There was a certain part of her that maybe she didn’t realize that was just so romantic and maybe expecting something that she didn’t even know what", and credits the fact that she was raised by three older women as opposed to her parents with making her "a little bit older, and yet, she ... had this young outreaching spirit." A very loving character, Aurora enjoyed her life as much as she did because she had never experienced anything else.
Walt Disney challenged his employees to make the film's characters "as real as possible". Animator Marc Davis served as the supervising animator for Aurora. By the time production began on Sleeping Beauty, Davis' work and experience had already established him as "one of Walt Disney’s go-to animators for pretty girls," having previously animated heroines such as Snow White and Cinderella, as well as Alice from Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Tinker Bell from Peter Pan (1953). Although heroines are admittedly among the most difficult characters to draw, Davis' knowledge of the human body and anatomy "brought these iconic female characters to life and made them believable", according to The Walt Disney Family Museum. While other animators involved with Sleeping Beauty struggled to adapt to artistic director Eyvind Earle's unprecedented preference for detailed backgrounds, Davis himself rather "embraced" this new style. Collaborating with character designer Tom Oreb on Aurora, Davis "crafted a leading lady of elegance." With a dignified, angular shape that complimented Earle’s vertical and horizontal backgrounds, the princess was "more refined" than Disney's leading ladies who had preceded her, and demanded much more attention to detail than any animated character who came before her. Quality control animator Iwao Takamoto described working on Aurora as "a laborious job ... because the drawings were so refined", ultimately limiting in-betweeners such as himself to completing approximately only seven drawings per day. With an artistry "characterized by a sense of style", Davis drew inspiration from the styles of Art Nouveau and Art Deco for Aurora's long, golden curls. The character also has violet eyes. Notably, Davis animated Aurora throughout the entire film as opposed to eventually having another animator replace him which, according to Costa, would have greatly altered the appearance of the character for the worse. Aurora's refined features compliment those of her nemesis Maleficent, who is similarly as refined and "equally alluring" but in a more "manipulative manner." The villainness was also animated by Davis.
Walt Disney strongly encouraged Costa to work closely with Davis while he animated Aurora so that she could learn as much as much as possible about the character and familiarize herself with "all aspects of her." Drawing Aurora to resemble her voice actress, Davis incorporated Costa's habit of constantly gesturing with her hands while talking and singing into the character's design, and defended the singer's performance when it was incorrectly labeled a voice-over by a fan, referring to Costa's voice as "the ocean of sound upon which we animated"; Davis and Costa eventually became close friends. Actress and dancer Helene Stanley served as the live-action model for Aurora, providing visual reference for the animators. Stanley's costume was designed by costume designer Alice Estes at the behest of Davis, then a student of his at Chouinard Art Institute. To compliment the "tapestry pattern" of the film's background, Estes met Davis' request by designing the dress to "move like [the tapestry] was animated." The two co-workers eventually wed. Meanwhile, British actress Audrey Hepburn served as Oreb's inspiration for Aurora's body type, from whom they borrowed the princess' "elegant, slender features". The studio disagreed about whether Aurora's gown should be pink or blue, which was written into the film in the form of a debate between good fairies Flora and Merryweather. Aurora has a total of only 18 minutes of screen time.
Themes and analysis
Aurora belongs to a trifecta known as the "Golden Era" of Disney heroines alongside her two predecessors Snow White and Cinderella. Kit Steinkellner of HelloGiggles wrote that Aurora continued the "trend of passive heroines who wait around for magic to change their lives," a recurring theme that seemed popular among Disney princesses introduced during and prior to the 1950s. Sonia Saraiya of Nerve dubbed Aurora "the apex" of "women who made no choices for themselves". Writing for MTV, Lauren Vino felt that the character "followed the basic princess tenants of loving animals and sleeping in makeup", while About.com's David Nusair wrote that Aurora followed "The pattern of kind yet helpless princesses", similar to both Snow White and Cinderella. Mary Grace Garis of Bustle observed that the princesses in the original trio "seek out marriage as both their endgame and salvation", elaborating, "It's literally their own means of escape, and their only final objective." However, according to The Walt Disney Family Museum volunteer Lucas O. Seastrom, Aurora was actually more "self-confident" and "more of repose than the usual naiveté of Disney heroines." Observing that Aurora's actions are influenced by the decisions and opinions of others, while most of film's action involves Prince Philip, Steinkellner joked that the character is so passive that she remains asleep during the film's climax. Dubbing her "a girl of reaction," nerdology.org's Lisa Kaye Cunningham felt that Aurora's "little screen time makes [her] difficult to classify as a feminist, but her single active decision shows great promise in the evolution of feminist Disney princesses," although her agency is constantly removed by other characters. Cunningham concluded, "By making one active decision to try and follow her dreams, this princess made a big step forward as a stronger feminist than Snow White, though Aurora remains bogged down with passive reactivity."
Although Aurora is usually considered to be the film's main character by default, Leigh Butler of Tor.com argues that the title "protagonist" rightfully belongs to the three good fairies because they "make all the critical decisions in the film, the ones which drive the action", while characters such as Aurora and Philip merely resemble pawns. Meanwhile, Butler expounded that Aurora "never grows as a character during the course of the film; she has no agency at all, in fact. She doesn’t act; she is acted upon. So she is definitely not the hero of the story." Helping Writers Become Authors' K. M. Weiland agreed, writing, "Sleeping Beauty has no arc. Prince Phillip has no arc. And, even more importantly, neither of them are present from start to finish in the story. Without the fairies to hold this thing together, the plot would have lacked any kind of impetus or cohesion." Writing for Durham College's The Water Buffalo, Michelle Munro observed that the first five Disney Princesses share physical and personality traits, namely their white skin, naivety, kindness and compassion, "show[ing] viewers what Disney believed a princess should look and act like" at that time. Munro specifically referred to Aurora as both spoiled and childish in demeanor at times. Bailey Cavender of The Silver Petticoat Review believes that Aurora's appearance and style is reminiscent of the Gibson Girl, a popular character created and designed by graphic artist Charles Dana Gibson, who embodied the idea that "physical beauty was a measure of fitness, character, and Americanness". According to Cavender, Aurora's beauty was considered to be "ideal" for women at the time her film was released, embodying the "classic standards of beauty."
Princess Aurora was born to King Stefan and Queen Leah. At her christening, she was given the gifts of beauty and song by the fairies Flora and Fauna. Following this, the evil sorceress named Maleficent appears, angry at not being invited, and puts a curse of eternal slumber on Aurora; stating that at the age of sixteen, she would prick her finger on the spindle from a spinning wheel and die. Luckily the third good fairy, named Merryweather, had not yet presented a gift and is able to change the curse to sleep instead of death which only True Love's Kiss could break. Concerned, the three good fairies take Aurora to a secluded cottage in the forest and changed her name to Briar Rose. When Aurora grows to be a teenager, she is dancing and singing in the forest when she meets a handsome man who happened to hear her singing. Princess Aurora renamed Briar Rose does not realize he is, in fact, Prince Phillip who is betrothed to her and they agreed to meet again that evening.
Meanwhile, the three good fairies are preparing for her birthday when they plan to surprise her with the news that she is a princess. But when Princess Aurora renamed Briar Rose returns with the news of meeting a handsome and enchanting man, the fairies must tell her she can never see him again, like Aurora not knowing who he really is. The three fairies tell her about the future that is set for her and that night they take her back to the castle. Aurora is saddened that she will never see the man from the forest and breaks into tears. The three fairies exit the room they secretly entered so as to let the princess have a few moments alone. Aurora suddenly sees a floating spark of light from the fireplace cast by Maleficent and, in a trance, follows the spark through the back of the fireplace and up a staircase to an abandoned empty room. There she finds a spinning wheel that was conjured up by the spark. The three good fairies, realizing the danger, try to stop her, but Maleficent's spell proves to be too strong and Aurora touches the spindle, pricking her finger in the process, and falls to the floor, unconscious. She is put in a bed by the fairies where she can sleep peacefully within the highest tower. To prevent further hurt in the kingdom, the fairies put the whole kingdom to sleep until Maleficent's curse is broken. Just before King Hubert falls asleep however, the three fairies discover from him that his son Prince Phillip was the man in the forest that Aurora had met and he's walking into a trap, and they help him confront Maleficent. After Prince Phillip fights and kills Maleficent, who transformed into a dragon, he moves upstairs to find Aurora in her deep, deathlike sleep. He kisses her on her lips, awakening her from her curse of eternal sleep and smiles. She comes down the stairs, arm in arm along with Philip, and meets her parents. She and Philip then dance together, officially starting their marriage in the form of a romantic kiss.
In this version of events, Maleficent shared quite a close history with King Stefan, Aurora's father, until he betrayed her and cut her wings off in order to ascend to the throne of his kingdom with Maleficent cursing his newborn daughter Aurora in retaliation. However, as she watches the fairies's awkward attempts to care for Aurora, Maleficent starts to protect her, initially to ensure Aurora's survival until her curse can take full effect, but eventually comes to care about Aurora as a daughter, Aurora in return regarding Maleficent as her 'fairy godmother' until she learns the truth, displaying great affection for the Moors where Maleficent and other fairies's dwell.
When Aurora falls victim to the curse, it is Maleficent's motherly kiss to her forehead in regret for her actions that breaks the curse with Aurora later returning Maleficent's feathered wings when Stefan's forces try to kill her. At the film's conclusion, Aurora is crowned queen of the human kingdom and the Moors, uniting both kingdoms under her rule. Prince Phillip also appears in the film, but their relationship is only briefly covered; although it is left with the potential to become something deeper.
Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams
In the beginning of the movie, Princess Aurora introduces herself in her bright pink dress. This is very important, since little can be known about Aurora's personality from Sleeping Beauty. After she asks a question, she guides the viewer to the scene where she is told by her father, King Stefan, and her mother, Queen Leah, that being a princess is not so easy. Then after both her parents and Prince Phillip leave, she has some duties to do when as a princess. During the "Keys To The Kingdom" musical number, she orders her servants to cook food, plant tulips, lilies, and orange trees, cut topiary, and paint the trellis pink. She has been taken to the table in a chair where she can wait for her guests to come for the party.
Later on, the clumsy Duke helps her sign the forms and reviews what she has found. There is a speech sheet with a golden medal on it King Hubert has forgotten to take. She instantly sends it to Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, the three good fairies, and is told by Merryweather that she has to use her wand for magic. When she uses it to make the giant chickens, green pigs, and brown cows appear, one of the brown cows chases the Duke. She then manages to sell cows to the farmer who meets her and the other peasants who wait for too long. After Prince Phillip, King Hubert, her parents, King Stefan and Queen Leah, and the Good fairies return, they all attend a banquet together and she talks about how she enjoyed her own duties. After the movie, Aurora thanks the viewer for watching her story and gives a goodbye wave.
In other media
Disney Princess franchise
Princess Aurora is an official member of the Disney Princess line, a prominent franchise directed at young girls. The franchise covers a wide variety of merchandise, including but not limited to magazines, music albums, toys, video games, clothes and stationery.
Princess Aurora is often seen in the theme parks as a meet-and-greet character, played by a cast member. The iconic castle in Disneyland is called the Sleeping Beauty Castle. There is also a Sleeping Beauty castle in Hong Kong Disneyland and in Disneyland Paris, called Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (French for previously mentioned title). Park visitors are able to walk through the castle and view several dioramas depicting scenes from the Disney film Sleeping Beauty. The original dioramas were designed in the style of Eyvind Earle, production designer for the film. Aurora and the other Disney Princesses also have a meet and greet attraction called Princess Fairytale Hall at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Princess Aurora appears in the Kingdom Hearts series as one of the seven Princesses of Heart (maidens who lack darkness in their hearts). In the first Kingdom Hearts game, she is the first Princess of Heart to be kidnapped by Maleficent. Soon after being kidnapped, her world, the Enchanted Dominion, is destroyed by the Heartless. She is held hostage at Hollow Bastion along with the other princesses through most of the game. Eventually, Riku (while being possessed by Xehanort's Heartless) uses her heart (along with the hearts of Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Alice and Jasmine) to create the Keyblade of People's Hearts, a mysterious weapon which can unlock the darkness in people's hearts. Eventually, after Sora sacrifices himself to awaken Kairi (the seventh princess), the Keyblade of People's Hearts is destroyed and Aurora's heart flies back to her body, but not before the Princesses' Hearts leave darkness flowing out of the Keyhole of Hollow Bastion. Aurora and the other princesses remain in Hollow Bastion, using the light in their hearts to hold the darkness back until the keyhole is sealed. At the end of the game, Sora, Donald Duck and Goofy defeat Xehanort's Heartless, the Enchanted Dominion is restored, and Aurora returns to her home. She is briefly mentioned in Kingdom Hearts II, where her name is part of the password for Ansem's computer. In Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, the same events from the 1959 film occurred until Terra arrives at the Enchanted Dominion. By that time, Aurora has already been placed in a deep slumber under the influence of the curse laid by Maleficent. When Terra reaches the tower and meets Maleficent, she uses the darkness in his heart to temporarily take control of his body and forces him to take Aurora's heart. Her heart was kept in Maleficent's castle until Ventus comes to retrieve it with the three fairies. Although her heart returned, the curse is not broken. Prince Phillip eventually escapes with Aqua's aid and reaches the tower where he kisses Aurora and breaks the spell.
Aurora appears in the Nintendo 3DS game "Disney Magical World" as part of a DLC package. Upon purchase of the package, the player will have immediate access to some Aurora- and Sleeping Beauty-themed items and clothing pieces, and he or she is able to craft more items by collecting the necessary ingredients. Aurora and Prince Phillip appear in person by using the items to throw Sleeping Beauty-themed parties at the player's café. Without purchasing the DLC package, the player will still be able to find some Sleeping Beauty-themed clothing pieces in the game, but Aurora herself will not make an appearance.
She also makes an appearance in the video game, Kinect Disneyland Adventures. In this game, Aurora often asks the player to find items such as ingredients for a birthday cake or musical notes.
A live-action version of Aurora is a recurring character in the second, third, and fourth seasons of the television series, Once Upon a Time and she is portrayed by Sarah Bolger. Oddly, Aurora is found sleeping in a desert palace and her clothing bears a Middle Eastern flavor (apart from her tiara, which looks Elven). She is at least the second "Sleeping Beauty" in the series continuity: it is mentioned that her mother, Queen Briar Rose, was afflicted with the same curse by Maleficent years before. The sleeping curse is the same one that the Evil Queen used on Snow White; this becomes an important plot point later in the season. After the second curse returns everyone to the enchanted forest Aurora (who is pregnant) doesn't want herself or Phillip to warn Snow White or the others about the Wicked Witch of the West, fearing for her unborn child. Aurora and Phillip are turned into flying monkeys and are not turned back until the last episode of the season. Aurora is turned back to human right before she gives birth.
She made a guest appearance in a Sofia the First episode, Holiday in Enchancia called on by the mystical amulet of Avalor to assist young Princess Sofia in finding her missing stepfather, King Roland II. She assured Sofia that she could rely on her animal friends' to help just she had long ago.
The Walt Disney Company currently has a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office, filed March 13, 2007, for the name "Princess Aurora" that covers production and distribution of motion picture films; production of television programs; production of sound and video recordings. This has caused some controversy because "Princess Aurora" is the name of the lead character in The Sleeping Beauty Ballet, from where Disney acquired the name and some of the music for its animated film, and which is performed live on stage and sometimes television and often sold later as a recorded performance on video. The trademark was granted on January 17, 2012.
Reception and legacy
Critics' initial reaction towards Aurora was generally unfavorable. During the 1950s, Disney received "harsh criticism" for depicting both Cinderella and Aurora as "naïve and malleable" characters, and failing to acknowledge the ways in which women's roles in society had evolved since Snow White's 1937 debut. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times felt that the character was too similar to Snow White, writing, "The princess looks so much like Snow White they could be a couple of Miss Rheingolds separated by three or four years." Time Out dismissed Aurora as a "delicate" and "vapid" character. Bustle's Mary Grace Garis wrote that the character "suffers from having very little definable personality and yes, serious Damsel-in-Distress syndrome". Sonia Saraiya of Jezebel echoed this sentiment, criticizing Aurora for lacking "interesting qualities". Saraiya also ranked Aurora Disney's least feminist princess. Similarly, Bustle also ranked Aurora the least feminist Disney Princess, with author Chelsea Mize expounding, "Aurora literally sleeps for like three quarters of the movie ... Aurora just straight-up has no agency, and really isn't doing much in the way of feminine progress." Mason J. Zimmer of Diply ranked Aurora second among "8 Disney Princesses Who Are Actually The Worst Role Models" because "her entire personality seems to revolve around falling in love with a prince and that's about it. She's a bad role model by way of being a total non-entity." Dismissing the character as "barely more than a cipher", Leigh Butler of Tor.com panned Aurora as "a Barbie doll knockoff who does nothing the whole film but sing wistfully about Finding Her Man, before becoming the ultimate passive Damsel in Distress". However, Butler went on to somewhat defend the character, writing, "Aurora’s cipher-ness in Sleeping Beauty would be infuriating if she were the only female character in it, but the presence of the Fairies and Maleficent allow her to be what she is without it being a subconscious statement on what all women are." Similarly, Refinery29 ranked Aurora the fourth most feminist Disney Princess because "Her aunts have essentially raised her in a place where women run the game."
|“||Sleeping Beauty herself is barely more than a cipher. Princess Aurora has virtually no character at all in the film other than to be an ideal—and, I might add, an ideal only achieved with the magical fairytale equivalent of surgical enhancement ... Aurora in the film is not a person, per se; she is the prize that the other characters fight over. She is an object, really, and that is not feminist at all.||”|
— Tor.com's Leigh Butler on Aurora's lack of character and feminism.
Aurora was Disney's last princess to have been created prior to Walt Disney's death in 1966. When Sleeping Beauty was first released in 1959, the film both performed poorly at the box office, while failing to impress critics. According to TheRichest, Aurora was partially responsible for Disney’s only overall loss that decade, thus the studio decided to avoid adapting fairy tales into animated films for several years to come; Aurora would remain Disney's last princess until The Little Mermaid's Ariel debuted in 1989, 30 years later. Mic's Melissa Hugel believes that the negative reception triggered by Aurora's passive role as a woman in Sleeping Beauty also contributed to this lengthy hiatus, earning the character a reputation as one of Disney's least successful and "worst" princesses. Meanwhile, David Nusair of About.com attributes the film's failure with "the familiarity of its storyline, as the film boasts many of the elements contained within both of its predecessors – including the revelation that Princess Aurora can only be awoken from her deep slumber by a kiss from her one true love" much like Snow White. Hollywood.com ranked Sleeping Beauty Disney's worst princess film because its main character essentially remains asleep for the majority of the movie. However, Aurora has since managed to establish herself as a popular character nonetheless due to her singing voice and beauty. At one point, the name "Aurora" had become a popular baby name, with parents often naming their children after the character. BuzzFeed readers voted Aurora their sixth favorite Disney Princess, garnering 7% of 9,554 votes. Time reported that Aurora was the seventh best-selling Disney Princess on eBay in 2014, having sold $215, 856 in merchandise. While creating the Disney Princess franchise, Disney Consumer Products decided that Aurora should be marketed wearing pink in order to distinguish her from Cinderella, who wears blue.
Media publications often tend to place Aurora towards the end of their Disney Princess rankings. Seventeen ranked Aurora last on their "Definitive Ranking Of Disney Princesses" list. Similarly, BuzzFeed also ranked Aurora last. Moviepilot placed Aurora last on the website's "All of the Disney Princess Ranked from Worst to Best" ranking, with author Kristin Lai dismissing the character as "a snooze." Meanwhile, MTV ranked Aurora 12th on the website's "Ultimate Ranking Of The Best Disney Princesses Of All Time". Similarly, E! also ranked Aurora 12th, with author John Boone elaborating, "She's not a bad princess, per se. She might actually be the prettiest of all the princesses ... But she's asleep half the movie! Pretty...but so, so boring." Zimbio ranked Aurora the second worst Disney Princess, while BuzzFeed ranked the character one of Disney's least intelligent princesses, with author Leonora Epstein dismissing Aurora as the "equivalent to the child who puts his finger in a socket when expressly told not to." However, the character has garnered recognition for her beauty and fashion, with Stylist extolling Aurora's "blow dry" as "the ultimate hairstyle when it comes to being a princess" while ranking it among Disney's "Best beauty looks", and Bustle dubbing her "the hottest Disney Princess". Entertainment Weekly ranked Aurora's hair the second best of all the Disney Princesses, with author Annie Barrett describing it as "aspirational". Oh My Disney ranked the pink and blue versions of Aurora's dress 15th and 16th on their countdown of every Disney Princess outfit, voicing their preference for the character in blue. Marie Claire ranked Aurora's outfits among "The 20 Greatest Movie Dresses of All Time", writing, "Of all the Disney princesses, Sleeping Beauty's Aurora had a fashionable edge" potentially worthy of being imitated by singers Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. Aurora was ranked first on Moviepilot's "Which Outfit is Fairest of Them All? 13 Disney Divas Ranked" list. Author Mikayla Sloan enthused that "The lines of Aurora's dress are flawless and her shoulders are set off beautifully" while "Her hair is effortlessly wavy and her accessories accentuate her features perfectly." According to Bustle, the character is the third most stylish Disney Princess, while E! believes that Aurora owns the sixth greatest Disney Princess wardrobe, voicing their preference for the character in pink. BuzzFeed ranked Aurora's ballgown 11th on their "Definitive Ranking Of 72 Disney Princess Outfits". According to Seventeen, the character underwent the fifth greatest Disney Princess makeover. On Cosmopolitan's list of "the 14 Hottest Disney Princesses", Aurora was ranked 12th, with author Frank Kobola dismissing the character as "a snoozefest" and likening her to "that girl in college who was always taking naps".
Costa has garnered widespread acclaim for her performance as Aurora. BuzzFeed ranked Aurora ninth on the website's ranking of Disney Princess singing voices, with author Kelcie Willis awarding it "Extra props for bringing operatic vocals to Disney." Variety complimented Costa's "rich and expressive" performance, praising the singer for providing Aurora with both "substance and strength". John Clark of SFGate credited Costa's vocals with "manag[ing] to make an enchanting impression in just a few onscreen minutes without being pushy or saccharine." Meanwhile, Artistdirect's Rick Florino wrote that the singer "brought a pure and honest vibrancy to the film." Additionally, Sleeping Beauty served as Costa's first singing job, prior to which she had had little professional singing experience. The role has since had a profound impact on Costa's career, allowing her to successfully transition from animated to Operatic roles. Walt Disney himself encouraged Costa to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an opera singer. Costa credits Walt Disney and Sleeping Beauty with instilling a work ethic in her, which she maintained throughout her entire career. Costa has achieved great success as an opera singer; The New York Times hailed her as "one of the most beautiful women to grace the operatic stage", while Paul MacInnes of The Guardian referred to her as "One of America's finest sopranos". First Lady Jackie Kennedy personally requested that Costa perform at the memorial service of her late husband, United States President John F. Kennedy. Despite her success elsewhere, Costa continues to hold voicing Aurora in high regard as her greatest accomplishment because the role "keeps [her] close to young people." Costa was officially recognized as a Disney Legend in 1999, and continues to make promotional appearances for Disney.
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