Sleeping Beauty (Diamond Edition) Blu-ray Review
I love a good Disney movie. Despite the obvious aging of the films compared to today’s standards, some of the original classics are among my favorites. Many believe these Disney classics are sacred ground and should not be criticized. While I am wowed by the impressive animation, I am officially proclaiming SLEEPING BEAUTY is a horrible movie.
Like I said, the animation and sound is nothing short of amazing for 1959, specifically every scene surrounding Maleficent. However, the story is a poorly pieced together rehash of previous, better Disney films like SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937) and CINDERELLA (1950) but with a sad twist of incomprehensible reasoning.
Celebrating the birth of their daughter, Princess Aurora, the King and Queen throw a party for all in the kingdom. Unfortunately, these “cool kids” rudely don’t invite the outcast Maleficent. When she shows up, the King and Queen are quick to tell her to get lost. Understandably, Maleficent’s feelings are hurt, so in the heat of the moment she curses their daughter. Sure, Maleficent dresses in black with horns and green flames as accessories, but is that any reason to base preconceived judgements on a person?
Oddly specific, the curse is: Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, Aura will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. Three supposedly good fairies lessen the curse to a deep sleep rather than death. But fearing that will not be enough, they decide to hide and raise the girl until she turns sixteen. I’m not sure why the parents allowed their baby to be taken away from them, especially when they would have sixteen good years with her until the curse actually happened. Well, on her sixteenth birthday, the three fairy godmothers, who I can only assume are the actual villains of the story, allow Aurora to go wondering through the woods unsupervised while they have a little magical color fight, ultimately giving away their hidden location to Maleficent. Not wanting to face their mistake and own their actions after Maleficent fulfills her curse on the Princess, the three fairies decide to put the whole kingdom under a deep sleep to hide the problem. Afterwards, they arm the Prince who is betrothed to Aurora, who kills Maleficent as an ugly dragon and awakens the Princess with a kiss. Obviously, this is exactly what I want my six-month-old daughter to learn: She just needs to wait to be rescued by a boy’s kiss at the ripe old age of sixteen.
You might say, SLEEPING BEAUTY actually angered me with its mixed signals and negative lessons. The first things they wanted for the child was to bless her with beauty and song rather than intelligence, strength and kindness. But don’t worry, the wealthy politicians win at the end, despite all their poor decision making and complete lack of self awareness.
SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937), PINOCCHIO (1940), FANTASIA (1940), DUMBO (1941), BAMBI (1942), CINDERELLA (1950), ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1951), PETER PAN (1953), and LADY AND THE TRAMP (1955) are all Disney films that came out before SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959). While not all of them hold up upon recent viewings, they are still more respectable than SLEEPING BEAUTY. My advice is to drop this “classic” and stick with one of those.
Video: (MPEG-4 AVC, 1080p 2.55:1) The animated artistry and use of color looks fantastic on Blu-ray.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1) The sound is clean and clear and better than it has ever been.
Deleted Scenes ( roughly 13:00): Three new never-before-seen deleted and alternate scenes: The Curse is Fulfilled, The Arrival of Maleficent, The Fair – all shown separately are presented through storyboards and narration.
Once Upon a Parade (8:49): Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) tells a group of kids the story behind Walt Disney’s Festival of Fantasy parade.
The Art of Evil: Generations of Disney Villains (9:48): This is an interesting and fun look at the history of Disney villains and their animators. Lino DiSalvo (FROZEN), Andreas Deja (ALADDIN), and vintage clips of Marc Davis (SLEEPING BEAUTY) discuss the styles and influence of animating an effective villain.
DisneyAnimation: Artists in Motion (4:27): Visual development artist Brittney Lee constructs an impressive paper sculpture of Maleficent.
Beauty-Oke: Once Upon A Dream (2:31): A creative karaoke sing-along for “Once Upon a Dream.”
Classic Bonus Features
The Sound of Beauty: Restoring A Classic (10:50): The sound was remastered from the original where they were able to discover details in the film that were previously hidden. Certain musical sounds turned out to be actual lyrics and the result is quite impressive.
Picture Perfect: The Making of Sleeping Beauty (43:32): Oddly, my criticism is verified here as they admit the story is similar to their previous work and wanted to create an advanced look on the picture like nothing they’ve tried before. This is an exceptional feature if you are a fan of Disney films and how they come to be, specifically the technical aspects and difficult design in making SLEEPING BEAUTY.
Eyvind Earle: A Man and His Art (7:33): Eyvind Earle was the extremely talented art director behind the film and this is a bit of a tribute to his hard life as a child and how he became the gifted and unique artist for Disney.
Audio Commentary: Film historian and critic Leonard Maltin along with supervising animator Andreas Deja and John Lasseter give their personal experiences and knowledge about the film. They give a very insightful and entertaining view spliced with conversations and recording from the original animators and crew.
It should be noted, that while a handful of extras on this SLEEPING BEAUTY Diamond Edition are brand new, several special features from the 2-disc 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition are missing.