Sleeping Beauty (1959 film)
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Original theatrical poster
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Based on||La Belle au bois dormant by Charles Perrault
The Sleeping Beauty by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Little Briar Rose by The Brothers Grimm
|Narrated by||Marvin Miller|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Box office||$51.6 million|
Sleeping Beauty is a 1959 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney based on The Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault and Little Briar Rose by The Brothers Grimm. The 16th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, it was released to theaters on January 29, 1959, by Buena Vista Distribution. This was the last Disney adaptation of a fairy tale for some years because of its initial mixed critical reception; the studio did not return to the genre until 30 years later, after Walt Disney died, with the release of The Little Mermaid (1989). However, the film is now hailed as one of the greatest animated films of all time.
The film was directed by Les Clark, Eric Larson, and Wolfgang Reitherman, under the supervision of Clyde Geronimi, with additional story work by Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright, and Milt Banta. The film's musical score and songs, featuring the work of the Graunke Symphony Orchestra under the direction of George Bruns, are arrangements or adaptations of numbers from the 1890 Sleeping Beauty ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Along with Pytor Tchaikovsy, Igor Stravinsky's music composition was also popular in the film.
Sleeping Beauty was the first animated film to be photographed in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process, as well as the second full-length animated feature film to be filmed in anamorphic widescreen, following Disney's own Lady and the Tramp four years earlier. The film was presented in Super Technirama 70 and 6-channel stereophonic sound in first-run engagements.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Directing animators
- 4 Production
- 5 Release and later history
- 6 Awards and nominations
- 7 Media and merchandise
- 8 Stage adaptation
- 9 Soundtrack listing
- 10 References
- 11 External links
After many childless years, King Stefan and Queen Leah, his lovely and beautiful wife, happily welcome the birth of their daughter, the Princess Aurora. They proclaim a holiday for their subjects to pay homage to the princess and celebrate her birth. At the gathering for her christening she is betrothed to Prince Phillip, the young son of Stefan's friend King Hubert, so that their kingdoms will always be united.
Among the guests are three good fairies called Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, who have come to bless the child with gifts, beauty and song. Flora and Fauna give their blessings before the evil witch Maleficent appears. Maleficent curses the princess, proclaiming that Aurora will grow in grace and beauty, but before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. After the witch leaves, Merryweather uses her blessing to alter the curse so that instead of dying, Aurora will fall into a deathlike sleep from which she can only be awakened by true love's first kiss. King Stefan, still fearful for his daughter's life, orders all spinning wheels in the kingdom to be burned. The fairies don't believe that will be enough to keep Aurora safe, and so they spirit baby Aurora away to a woodcutter's cottage in the forest until the day of her sixteenth birthday.
Years later, Aurora, renamed Briar Rose, has grown up into a beautiful teenage girl. On the day of her sixteenth birthday, the three fairies ask Rose to gather berries in the forest so they can prepare a surprise party for her. While singing in the forest, Rose attracts the attention of Prince Phillip, now a handsome young man. They instantly fall in love, unaware of being betrothed years ago. Rose asks Phillip to come to her cottage that evening.
Having difficulty sewing together a gown for Aurora, the fairies resort to magic and get into a fight over the color of the gown. The magic battle attracts the attention of Maleficent's scouting raven. When Aurora arrives, the fairies tell her the truth about her heritage, and that she can't meet her suitor. Heartbroken, she leaves the room. Overhearing this, the raven goes to inform Maleficent. Meanwhile, Phillip tells his father of a peasant girl he met and wishes to marry in spite of his prearranged marriage to Princess Aurora. King Hubert fails to convince him otherwise, leaving Hubert in equal disappointment.
The fairies take Aurora back to the castle that evening. Maleficent then appears and magically lures Aurora away from the fairies and tricks the princess into touching an enchanted spinning wheel. Aurora pricks her finger, completing the curse. The good fairies place Aurora on a bed in the highest tower and place a powerful spell on all the people in the kingdom, causing them to fall in a deep sleep until the spell on their princess is broken. From King Hubert's conversation with King Stefan, the fairies realize that Prince Phillip is the man with whom Aurora has fallen in love. However, he is ambushed and kidnapped by Maleficent and her minions at the cottage. She shows Phillip the peasant girl he fell in love with is the now-sleeping princess. She tells him she plans to keep him locked away until he's an old man on the verge of death, then release him to meet his love, who won't have aged a single day.
The fairies arrive at Maleficent's castle, where they avoid being spotted by Maleficent's guards. Luckily, they find and release the prince, arming him with the magical Sword of Truth and the magical Shield of Virtue. After Phillip and the fairies escape the castle, Maleficent tries to stop him with a forest of thorns, but fails as the prince cuts his way through. She then transforms into a gigantic dragon to battle the prince herself. The battle continues on a cliff, where Phillip loses his shield. Ultimately, Phillip throws the sword, blessed by the fairies' magic, directly into Maleficent's heart, causing her to fall to her death.
Phillip awakens Aurora with a kiss, breaking the spell and wakes everyone up in the palace. The royal couple descends to the ballroom, where Aurora is happily reunited with King Stefan and Queen Leah, her parents. Flora and Merryweather resume their argument over the color of Aurora's Dress, even changing its color as Aurora wears it while dancing with Phillip. Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip live happily ever after.
- Mary Costa as Princess Aurora (Briar Rose) / Sleeping Beauty, the princess that filled the lives of her parents with sunshine, and the love interest of Prince Phillip.
- Eleanor Audley as Maleficent, the evil witch who curses Princess Aurora
- Verna Felton as Flora (The Red Fairy) and Queen Leah (Princess Aurora's mother)
- Barbara Jo Allen as Fauna (The Green Fairy)
- Barbara Luddy as Merryweather (The Blue Fairy)
- Bill Shirley as Prince Phillip
- Taylor Holmes as King Stefan (Princess Aurora's father)
- Bill Thompson as King Hubert (Prince Phillip's father)
- Marvin Miller as The Narrator
- Candy Candido, Pinto Colvig and Bill Amsbery as Maleficent's Goon
- Dallas McKennon as Diablo, and the Owl, and Maleficent's Goons
- Marc Davis - (Princess Aurora, Maleficent)
- Milt Kahl - (Prince Phillip)
- Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston - (The Three Good Fairies: Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather)
- John Lounsbery - (King Hubert, King Stefan)
- Wolfgang Reitherman - (Maleficent as a dragon; also served as the director of the whole sequence of Prince Phillip's escape and his climatic battle with Maleficent as the dragon)
Eric Larson did not animate any of the characters for the film; instead, he directed the entire "Forest" sequence which stretches from Briar Rose (a.k.a. Aurora) wandering through the forest with her animal friends all the way to Briar Rose running back home, promising Phillip they'll meet again later in the evening. This was the only time he directed a sequence or a film during his tenure at Walt Disney Feature Animation.
Overview and art direction
Sleeping Beauty spent nearly the entire decade of the 1950s in production: the story work began in 1951, voices were recorded in 1952, animation production took from 1953 until 1958, and the stereophonic musical score, mostly based on Tchaikovsky's ballet of the same name, was recorded in 1957. The film was the last Disney animated film to use hand-inked cels. Beginning with the next feature, 101 Dalmatians (1961), Disney would move to the use of xerography to transfer animators' drawings from paper to the cels. Its art, which Walt Disney wanted to look like a living illustration and which was inspired by medieval art, was not in the typical Disney style. Because the Disney studio had already made two features based on fairy tales, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Cinderella (1950), Walt Disney wanted this film to stand out from its predecessors by choosing a different visual style. The movie eschewed the soft, rounded look of earlier Disney features for a more stylized one that corresponds to the time period in which the film is set. As Super Technirama 70 was used, the backgrounds could contain more detailed and complex artwork than ever used in an animated film before.
While Disney's regular production designer, Ken Anderson, was in charge of the film's overall look, Disney artist Eyvind Earle was made the film's color stylist and chief background designer; Disney gave him a significant amount of freedom in designing the settings and selecting colors for the film. Earle also painted the majority of the backgrounds himself. The elaborate paintings usually took seven to ten days to paint; in contrast, a typical animation background took only one workday to complete. Disney's decision to give Earle so much artistic freedom was not popular among the Disney animators, who had until Sleeping Beauty exercised some influence over the style of their characters and settings.
It was also the first time the studio experimented with the Xerox process. Woolie Reitherman used it on the dragon as a way to enlarge and reduce its size, but due to the primitive equipment available in this early test, the Xerox lines were then replaced with traditional ink and paint.
Chuck Jones, known for his work as an animation director with Warner Bros. Cartoons, was employed on the film during the brief period when Warner Bros. Animation department was closed. It was anticipated that 3-D film would replace animation as a box office draw. Following the failure of 3-D, and the reversal of Warner's decision, Jones returned to the other studio. His work on Sleeping Beauty, which he spent four months on, remained uncredited. Ironically, during his early years at WB, Jones was a heavy user of Disney-style animation.
Characters and story development
The name given to the princess by her royal birth parents is "Aurora" (Latin for "dawn"), as it was in the original Tchaikovsky ballet. This name occurred in Perrault's version as well, not as the princess's name, but as her daughter's. In hiding, she is called Briar Rose, the name of the princess in the Brothers Grimm variant. The prince was given the princely name most familiar to Americans in the 1950s: Prince Phillip. Named after Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the character has the distinction of being the first Disney prince to have a name as the princes in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Cinderella are never named. The evil fairy was aptly named Maleficent, from the English adjective meaning "doing evil or harm.".
Walt Disney had suggested that all three good fairies should look alike, but veteran animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston objected, saying that if they look alike the three identical fairies would not be exciting. They chose to have the fairies in different personalities, looks, and colors. Additionally, the idea originally included seven good fairies instead of three, as there are seven good fairies in the story's main reference, Perrault's version. In determining Maleficent's design, standard depictions of witches and hags were dismissed as animator Marc Davis opted for an elegant, sinister, green-skinned beauty centered around the appearance of flames, ultimately crowning the villain with a black two pointed headdress, often called an "atora." According to Mattinson, Maleficent "was designed like a giant vampire bat to create a feeling of menace."
In the final production the individual character of the three good fairies and the elegant villain proved to be among the film's strongest points.
Live-action reference footage
Before animation production began, every shot in the film was done in a live-action reference version, with live actors in costume serving as models for the animators. Helene Stanley was the live action reference for Princess Aurora. The only known surviving footage of Stanley as Aurora's live-action reference is a clip from the television program Disneyland, which consists of the artists sketching her dancing with the woodland animals. It was not the first or last time Stanley worked for Disney; she also provided live-action references for Cinderella and Anita from 101 Dalmatians, and portrayed Polly Crockett for the TV series Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.
The role of Prince Phillip was modeled by Ed Kemmer, who had played Commander Buzz Corry on television's Space Patrol five years before Sleeping Beauty was released. For the final battle sequence, Kemmer was photographed on a wooden buck.
All the live actors' performances were screened for the animators' reference as Walt Disney insisted that much of Sleeping Beauty's character animation be as close to live action as possible.
Release and later history
Disney's distribution arm, Buena Vista Distribution, originally released Sleeping Beauty to theaters in both standard 35mm prints and large-format 70mm prints. The Super Technirama 70 prints were equipped with six-track stereophonic sound; some CinemaScope-compatible 35mm Technirama prints were released in four-track stereo, and others had monaural soundtracks. On the initial run, Sleeping Beauty was paired with the short musical/documentary film Grand Canyon which won an Academy Award.
During its original release in January 1959, Sleeping Beauty earned approximately $5.3 million in box office rentals. Sleeping Beauty's production costs, which totaled $6 million, made it the most expensive Disney film up to that point, and over twice as expensive as each of the preceding three Disney animated features: Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp. The high production costs of Sleeping Beauty, coupled with the underperformance of much of the rest of Disney's 1959–1960 release slate, resulted in the company posting its first annual loss in a decade for fiscal year 1960, and there were massive lay-offs throughout the animation department.
At first, the film had mixed reviews from critics. Nevertheless, the film has sustained a strong following and is today hailed as one of the best animated films ever made, thanks to its stylized designs by painter Eyvind Earle who also was the art director for the film, its lush music score and its large-format 70mm widescreen and stereophonic sound presentation. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a "Certified Fresh" 91% from 34 reviews with an average rating of 7.7/10. Its consensus states that "This Disney dreamscape contains moments of grandeur, with its lush colors, magical air, one of the most menacing villains in the Disney canon." Carrie R. Wheadon of Common Sense Media gave the film five out of five stars, writing, "Disney classic is delightful but sometimes scary".
Like Alice in Wonderland (1951), which was not initially successful either, Sleeping Beauty was never re-released theatrically in Walt Disney's lifetime. However, it had many re-releases in theaters over the decades. The film was re-released theatrically in 1970, 1979 (in 70mm 6 channel stereo, as well as in 35 mm stereo and mono) 1986 and 1995. It was going to re-release in 1993, but it was canceled. Sleeping Beauty 's successful reissues have made it the second most successful film released in 1959, second to Ben-Hur, with a lifetime gross of $51.6 million. When adjusted for ticket price inflation, the domestic total gross comes out to $606.8 million, placing it in the top 40 of films.
From July 9 to August 13, 2012, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences organized "The Last 70MM Film Festival" at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, where the Academy, its members, and the Hollywood industry acknowledged the importance, beauty, and majesty of the 70mm film format and how its image and quality is superior to that of digital film. The Academy selected the following films, which were shot on 70mm, to be screened to make a statement about it, as well as to gain a new appreciation for familiar films in a way it hadn't before: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Sleeping Beauty, Grand Prix, The Sound of Music, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Spartacus, along with other short subject films on the 70mm format.
Home video release
Sleeping Beauty was released on VHS, Betamax and Laserdisc in 1986 in the Classics collection, becoming the first Disney Classics video to be digitally processed in Hi-Fi stereo. The film underwent a digital restoration in 1997, and that version was released to both VHS and Laserdisc again as part of the Masterpiece Collection. The 1997 VHS edition also came with a special commemorative booklet included, with brief facts on the making of the movie. In 2003, the restored Sleeping Beauty was released to DVD in a 2-disc "Special Edition" which included both a widescreen version (formatted at 2.35:1) and a pan and scan version as well. A Platinum Edition release of Sleeping Beauty, as a 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray, was released on October 7, 2008 in the US, making Sleeping Beauty the first entry in the Platinum Edition line to be released in high definition video. This release is based upon the 2007 restoration of Sleeping Beauty from the original Technicolor negatives (interpositives several generations removed from the original negative were used for other home video releases). The new restoration features the film in its full negative aspect ratio of 2.55:1, wider than both the prints shown at the film's original limited Technirama engagements in 2.20:1 and the CinemaScope-compatible reduction prints for general release at 2.35:1. The Blu-ray set features BD-Live, an online feature, and the extras include a virtual castle and multi-player games. The Blu-ray release also includes disc 1 of the DVD version of the film in addition to the two Blu-rays. The DVD includes a music video with a remake of the Disney Classic "Once Upon A Dream" sung by Emily Osment; and featuring Daniel Romer as Prince Charming. The DVD was released on October 27, 2008 in the UK. The Blu-ray release is the first ever released on the Blu-ray format of any Disney feature produced by Walt Disney himself. The film was released on a Diamond Edition Blu-ray on October 7, 2014, after six years since its first time on Blu-ray.
Aurora is one of the seven Princesses of Heart in the popular Square Enix game Kingdom Hearts (although her appearances are brief), and Maleficent is a villain in all three Kingdom Hearts games, and as a brief ally at the third game's climax. The good fairies appear in Kingdom Hearts II, giving Sora new clothes. Diablo appears in Kingdom Hearts II to resurrect his defeated mistress. The PSP game Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, features a world based on the movie, Enchanted Dominion, and characters who appear are Aurora/Briar Rose, Maleficent, Maleficent's goons, the three faires and Prince Phillip, the latter serving as temporary party member for Aqua during her battle against Maleficent and her henchmen.
She is also a playable character in the game Disney Princess.
Maleficent's goons appear in the Maroon Cartoon studio lot in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The Bluebirds from the film also appear as "tweeting birds" that fly around Roger Rabbit's or Eddie Valiant's heads in two scenes, after a refrigerator fell on top of Roger's head and while Eddie Valiant is in Toontown, the birds are seen again flying around his head until he shoos them away.
The first all-new story featuring the characters from the movie (sans Maleficent) appeared in Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams, the first volume of collection of the Disney Princesses. It was released on September 4, 2007. Mary Costa, the original voice of Aurora, was not fond of this story and felt that it did not work.
Various characters from the film also appear in the board game of the same name.
Aurora is featured in a PSA for wildfire prevention with Smokey Bear.
In the American fantasy drama series Once Upon a Time, a live-action version of Maleficent appeared in the second episode and the Season 1 finale, as she is an adversary of the Evil Queen, and is also sinister. She appears more prominently in the show's fourth season. Her role is played by True Blood actress Kristin Bauer. In Season 2, Season 3, and Season 4 live-action incarnations of Aurora, Phillip, and King Stefan are portrayed by Sarah Bolger, Julian Morris, and Sebastian Roché respectively.
Aurora and Maleficent also appear in the manga, Kilala Princess.
Aurora also makes an appearance in the video game, Kinect Disneyland Adventures.
Flora, Fauna and Merryweather appear in Disney Channel/Disney Junior's series Sofia the First as the teaching faculty of Royal Prep, the school for the various kingdom's princes and princesses. Aurora also makes a guest appearance in the episode, "Holiday in Enchancia".
In Walt Disney Pictures' live action film Maleficent, released on May 2014, Angelina Jolie casts as Maleficent and Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora. The movie is directed by Robert Stromberg in his directorial debut, produced by Don Hahn and Joe Roth, and written by Paul Dini and Linda Woolverton.
Awards and nominations
- Best Soundtrack Album, Original Cast – Motion Picture or Television (Lost against Porgy and Bess)
- Best Musical Entertainment Featuring Youth – TV or Motion Picture
- American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
- Maleficent – Nominated Villain
- AFI's 10 Top 10 – Nominated Animated Film
Media and merchandise
Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Game (1958) is a Parker Brothers children's board game for two to four players based upon Sleeping Beauty. The object of the game is to be the first player holding three different picture cards to reach the castle and the space marked "The End".
The Disney film retains the basics of Charles Perrault's 17th century fairy tale about a princess cursed to sleep one hundred years, but adds three elderly fairies who protect the princess, a prince armed with a magic sword and shield, and other details. The Disney twists on the tale are incorporated into the game, and Disney's "stunning graphics" illustrate the game board. In addition to the board game, the film generated books, toys, and other juvenile merchandise.
The equipment consists of a center-seamed game board, four tokens in various colors, four spinners, four magic wands, and a deck of picture cards.
The first player moves the number of spaces along the track according to a dial spin. If the player lands on a pink star, his turn ends. If he lands on a yellow star, he draws a card and follows its instruction. If he draws a picture card, he retains it face down at his place. If a player spins a six, he is given the choice of moving six spaces or taking a magic wand. He may play the wand at any time during the game and in doing so draws two cards, following their instructions. A player must hold three different picture cards before entering the Path of Happiness. If he does not hold three picture cards, he continues around the Deep Sleep circle until he acquires the required three picture cards. Should a player land on a purple Maleficent space, that player returns one of his picture cards to the deck.
Sleeping Beauty was made while Walt Disney was building Disneyland (hence the six-year production time). To help promote the film, Imagineers named the park's icon "Sleeping Beauty Castle" (it was originally to be Snow White's). An indoor walk-through exhibit was added to the empty castle interior in 1957, where guests could walk through the castle, up and over the castle entrance, viewing "Story Moment" dioramas of scenes from the film, which were improved with animated figurines in 1977. It closed shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, supposedly because the dark, unmonitored corridors were a risk. After being closed for seven years, the exhibit space underwent extensive refurbishment to restore the original 1957 displays, and reopened to guests on November 27, 2008. Accommodations were also made on the ground floor with a "virtual" version for disabled guests unable to navigate stairs. Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005, also with a Sleeping Beauty Castle, nearly replicating Disneyland's original design.
Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant at Disneyland Paris is a variant of Sleeping Beauty Castle. The version found at Disneyland Paris is much more reminiscent of the film's artistic direction. The Château features an animatronic dragon, imagineered to look like Maleficent's dragon form, is found in the lower level dungeon – La Tanière du Dragon. The building also contains La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant, a gallery of displays which illustrate the story of Sleeping Beauty in tapestries, stained glass windows and figures.
Princess Aurora (and, to a lesser extent, Prince Phillip, the three good fairies, and Maleficent) makes regular appearances in the parks and parades.
A scaled-down one act stage musical version of the film with the title Disney's Sleeping Beauty KIDS is often performed by schools and children's theaters. With book and additional lyrics by Marcy Heisler and Bryan Louiselle, the show is composed of twelve musical numbers, including the movie songs.
- "Main Title"/"Once Upon A Dream"/"Prologue"
- "Hail To The Princess Aurora"
- "The Gifts Of Happiness And Song"/"Maleficent Appears"/"True Love Conquers All"
- "The Burning Of The Spinning Wheels"/"The Fairies' Plan"
- "Maleficent's Frustration"
- "A Cottage In The Woods"
- "Do You Hear That?"/"I Wonder"
- "An Unusual Prince"/"Once Upon A Dream (Reprise)"
- "Magical House Cleaning"/"Blue Or Pink"
- "A Secret Revealed"
- "Wine (Drinking Song)"/"The Royal Argument"
- "Prince Phillip Arrives"/"How To Tell Stefan"
- "Aurora's Return"/"Maleficent's Evil Spell"
- "Poor Aurora"/"Sleeping Beauty"
- "Forbidden Mountain"
- "A Fairy Tale Come True"
- "Battle With The Forces Of Evil"
- "Finale (Once Upon A Dream (third-prise))"
The Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic album includes "Once Upon A Dream" on the green disc, and "I Wonder" on the purple disc. Additionally, Disney's Greatest Hits includes "Once Upon A Dream" on the blue disc. The 1973 LP compilation 50 Happy Years of Disney Favorites (Disneyland, STER-3513) includes "Once Upon A Dream" as the seventh track on Side IV, as well as a track titled "Blue Bird – I Wonder" labeled as being from this film with authorship by Hibler, Sears, and Bruns (same set, Side II, track 4).
No Secrets performed a cover version of "Once Upon A Dream" on the album Disneymania 2, which appears as a music video on the 2003 DVD. More recently, Emily Osment sang a remake of "Once Upon A Dream", released on the Disney Channel on September 12, 2008, and included on the Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray Disc.
In anticipation of the 2014 film Maleficent, a cover version sung by Lana Del Rey was released by Disney on January 26. The song is considerably darker and more dramatic than the 1959 version, given the new film's focus on the villain Maleficent. The song was debuted in a trailer for the film shown as a commercial break during the 2014 Grammy Awards, and was released for free on Google Play for a limited time.
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