Sleeping Beauty Reviews
- Looks great on Blu-ray, this is one of the better Disney pictures in my opinion. The animation is outstanding, and it has a good story and strong music as well. This is a MUST for Disney fans!
- I was surprised how much I liked this one. I didn't remember it well from my childhood, but watching it again on DVD was great, the animation was outstanding! Disney really is doing a solid job taking care of and re-releasing their classics. All the DVD have excellent special features as well.
When it was decided to do Sleeping Beauty, the company knew they would have to push the artistry further than they ever had before to purposefully make the film stand out from everything that had ever come before it. The story's medieval setting perfectly caters to this with gothic architecture, patterned tapestries, sculpted box trees and other hyper detailed background elements. To match, Disney ditched the soft and round and inviting characters that they usually portray for character designs that are more jagged and angular, strong with deep straight and vertical lines. The detail of the film really is just staggering. Add to that the fact that this was all done in Super Technirama 70 means not only more detailed art, but physically larger portions of art needed to be created to fill the film's frame, and every single frame from this film could be a framed painting hanging in a museum all on its own.
Just as your eyes finally settle from all the detail and you think the movie couldn't be any more perfect, it happens. A blustery wind and a flash of lightening introduces you to the most iconic villain in all of the Disney stable. If anyone can crash a party and completely steal a show, it is Maleficent, which is a feat from a character with very little action. She's a speech giver, which means her captivation comes completely from her design, her slight movements, her voice, and her overall demanding presence. She can stand completely still and yet you will never lose her within the intricacies of the settings around her because you will never even take your eyes off of her. A spell has truly been cast, and while our princess has the least amount of lines for any human title character in a Disney animated movie, Maleficent more than fills the stage, making the movie really all about her.
Other characters, like the film's hero Prince Phillip, are also more well rounded than the archetype had been in previous Disney films, and he would have to be to even enter into such a dark and threatening climatic battle. This Dark Ages atmosphere of Sleeping Beauty is spurned on by its classical score, a brilliant arrangement by George Bruns of the original music from the Sleeping Beauty ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The idea to take this well known music and reset it to the events of the movie adds weight and seriousness, as well as an heir of familiarity. It also does well to heighten certain moments in the film to truly chilling and mesmerizing states.
It's a wonder that the film was a failure upon its initial release. The increase to its art and production meant that it was also Disney's most expensive animated film to date, and unfortunately could not make its money back at the box office, resulting in quite a change in style at the studio. The company's next release would be the scratchily designed 101 Dalmatians, with Sleeping Beauty ending the era of the lush and overly romantic Disney animated film. It has since gained both its money back and popularity, though, considered by many to be one of Disney's crowning achievements. As for me, I am perfectly comfortable in going further than that to call Sleeping Beauty the best animated film of all time.