NerDisney # 16 – Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty

My memories

We were left with a story of puppies and we are left with a classic fairy tale: the 16th Disney classic, in fact, is The Sleeping Beautyreleased in the United States on January 29, 1959 and based on the popular fairy tale, specifically intended in the version of Charles Perrault.

What we are talking about today is one of my favorite Disney classics ever: I really wanted to talk about it, because The Sleeping Beauty accompanied my childhood, I practically consumed the VHS by dint of watching it over and over again (except for the spinning wheel scene, of which I was literally terrified and therefore I jumped every time – and I also did it with Alice in Wonderlandwhere I skipped the scene in which she lost her way -).

De The Sleeping Beautyapart from the scary scene, I loved everything: the evil Maleficent it has always been my favorite but I also really liked the good fairies, the drunken minstrel, the atmosphere, the colors and the music. In short: for my child it was the perfect movie. Which was not, however, for Walt Disney.

The movie that nearly destroyed Disney

The Sleeping Beauty shows up in 1959 as a highly experimental film: while putting a princess and a classic fairy tale at the center again, it completely deviates from the graphic style of the previous ones, choosing instead a personal and refined one.
The idea, in fact, was that of be inspired by medieval art and prefer an angular, sharp, strongly geometric line. The “graphic look” of the film was entrusted to the painter Eyvind Earlewhich was based on the medieval illuminated manuscript Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry and enjoyed considerable creative freedom.

The Sleeping Beauty is the first animated film made with the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process: a technique that will only be used two more times (Taron and the magic pot, Atlantis). It is also the only Disney fairy tale to be shot in ultra widescreen before Frozen the ice kingdomwhich will come 54 years later.

The work lasted for almost all of the 1950s and proved to be particularly expensive: as many as 6 million dollars were used for The Sleeping Beauty, the most expensive Disney movie to date. Unfortunately, also due to its experimental aspects, the film did not prove to be a success, earning “only” 7.7 million dollars and bringing Disney to the brink of bankruptcy.

Among the reasons for criticism of the 16th classic, as well as the stylistic choices, a defined slow pace and underdeveloped characters. Walt Disney was burned by it, so much so that he moved further and further away from film productions to devote himself instead to the development of theme parks and let thirty years pass before trying again with a classic fairy tale (The Sirenetta will in fact be released in 1989).

As often happens, however, The Sleeping Beauty it has been re-evaluated with the passage of time e today it is regarded as one of the best animated films ever made.

The soundtrack

One of the elements that I have always appreciated the most is the soundtrack de The Sleeping Beauty. I have always found a winning choice to be based on the famous ballet of Tchaikovskykept extremely in mind by the author of the soundtrack George Bruns and adapted for the big screen.
Many instrumental parts in the film, in fact, are extracted directly from the ballet and the original songs are all inspired by Tchaikovsky’s work.
My favourite? No doubt I know itprobably also the most representative, adapted directly to the music of the ballet.

Curiosity

The Sleeping Beauty is the Disney movie in which the main character appears for the least time on the screen: Aurora, in fact, has a running time of just 18 minutes. Probably also for this reason the film attracted the criticism of presenting dull and not very detailed characters. Yet, at the same time, this is the first film to name the prince: Filippo is in fact the first to appear in a Disney film and to be more than just an extra.
Not only that: he is in fact, despite having no lines, the real active protagonist of the second part of the film.

The characters who, although born as helpers, become real protagonists are in reality the three good fairies: strongly characterized, not only in terms of image but also of individual personality, they reveal themselves to be the true engine of the story. It is they, in fact, who unleash all the events of the film, starting from the beginning up to the final battle with the antagonist.

The negative character, among other things, was defined as the most successful de The Sleeping Beauty as well as one of the most defined Disney villains ever: Maleficent has an incredible charm and an elegance out of the ordinary. To bring it to life, it was decided to put aside the classic representation of the witch, opting instead for a regal image, with fine features and clothing that closely recalls the medieval art that served as a model for the entire graphic rendering of the movie.

The processing of The Sleeping Beauty coincided with the creation of the Disney theme parks: just to promote the film, Disneyland Castle was renamed Sleeping Beauty Castle. Even the castles present in the park in Hong Kong and in Paris are inspired by the classic Disney: the one present in Europe closely resembles the artistic direction of the film, with an animatronic dragon. In some Disney parks, however, such as that of Florida and Tokyo, the castle present is instead that of Cinderella.

Live action

The Sleeping Beauty is among the Disney films that have been the protagonists of a live action remake in the last period. In 2014 it came out Maleficentwith Angelina Jolie in the role of the witch e Elle Fanning in that of Aurora, a film that has chosen a different path from that taken by most of the Disney live action. It is in fact a reinterpretation focused on the antagonist, exploring her origins and the reasons that made her cruel, harsh and ruthless.

Although the film has been very popular, so much so that it has an original sequel in 2019, and although the idea behind it is interesting, I have to admit I’m not a fan of it: I’m too fond of the original classic and animated Maleficent figure, it works much better for me as an all-around villain. She doesn’t need reasons to curse a baby girl just for not being invited to a party, in short.

How he aged

Although I know the film practically by heart, I wanted to look at it before diving into writing this piece and I must admit that, in my opinion, The Sleeping Beauty it has aged very well.
Misunderstood in 1959, the film takes its revenge thanks to the passage of time: a classic fairy tale, beautifully illustrated, which allows us to dream even today.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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