Sleeping Beauty is a 1959 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney based on The Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault. The 16th Disney animated feature film, 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 and under-performance at the box office; the studio did not return to the genre until 30 years later, after Walt Disney died in 1966, with the release of The Little Mermaid (1989).
After being snubbed by the royal family, a malevolent fairy places a curse on a princess which only a prince can break, along with the help of three good fairies.
Why It Rocks
- Stunning and very smooth animation with colorful effects.
- Beautiful art style that incorporates influences from medieval art (particularly the millefleurs style of 15th-century tapestries) which fits the film's 14th century medieval setting very nicely,
- Well-done character and story-development.
- Maleficent is a really entertaining antagonist and her dragon form is pure nightmare fuel. Eleanor Audley was spectacularly amazing as Maleficent.
- The fairies are likable and entertaining comic-reliefs. Verna Felton, Barbara Luddy, and Barbara Jo Allen were great as Flora, Merryweather, and Fauna.
- Very loyal to the source material with some of it’s own creative adjustments.
- Most songs are memorable, such as Once Upon A Dream.
- The ending is heartwarming.
- The idea of making a witch curse the newborn princess when she’s 16 years old is pretty original.
- With the exception of Taylor Holmes, the rest of the voice cast were great, including Mary Costa as Aurora and Bill Shirley as Prince Phillip.
- It's not afraid to show blood in a Disney movie for the very first time, which is notable during Maleficent's infamous death scene at the end.
- Excellent score adaptation from Tchaikovsky’s ballet of the same name by George Bruns.
- Despite his limited screen time, Sir Minstrel is a hilarious character in the “Skumps” scene.
- King Hubert is hilarious and an entertaining comic relief as Bill Thompson did a great job voicing him.
- The French pre-revolutionary anthem played when Phillip and Aurora reunite their family is majestic as beauty.
- The scene where Merryweather and Flora argue about the color of Aurora’s gown (pink or blue) in the cleaning scene and ending is hilarious and creative.
- Thanks to the Disney animators having finally mastered animating human characters (including realistic human males) by this film, Prince Phillip is given a larger role as Aurora's love interest in this film, unlike Snow White and Cinderella's respective princes.
- Even though Aurora is the main character of the film and the film is called Sleeping Beauty (aka Aurora), she doesn’t get a fair amount of screen time, and therefore is lacking any personality or character development.
- It’s 2014 remake, Maleficent, while a decent film, just waters-down what makes Maleficent so villainous.
- While the rest of the voice cast were great, Taylor Holmes gave an incredibly bland performance as King Stefan and is almost unenthusiastic in some scenes, though he was okay as the singing voice of Stefan.
- Some scenes can be too scary and intense for younger viewers, such as Aurora pricking her finger and Maleficent’s transformation as a dragon, while being a cool scene.
- It was the first Disney animated feature-length film to used the 2.55:1 aspect ratio, though it was shown in theaters in the 2.20:1 aspect ratio.
- Hans Conried, the voice of Captain Hook in Peter Pan, originally recorded some dialogues as Stefan, but his voice as Stefan was not used in the finished film as he was replaced by Taylor Holmes for the voice role, which probably makes it unclear who voiced the herald.
- The demo songs from the Legacy Soundtrack Collection were cut from the film before it made its debut in theaters.