Walt Disney’s classic animated film Sleeping Beauty was originally released in theaters in January 1959, though I didn’t see it until years later when it was rereleased in theaters in the late 1970s. Since then, it has been one of my favorite films.
The story is very familiar to anyone who has read the fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. Disney and his crew, of course, added their own little touches to the story, but it’s still the same beloved and many-times retold story. Fortunately, that’s not where the magic lies in this film.
I love the art style in this film. Everything about it. It is so reminiscent of medieval and Renaissance art, and is quite different from any other Disney animated film. The impossibly tall trees with squared and rectangular canopies catch the eye throughout. The angular feel of almost all of the characters is very striking as well. The backgrounds, especially, are just absolutely gorgeous.
The music in this version of the well-known fairy tale was adapted and reorchestrated by George Bruns from the 1890 Tchaichovsky ballet, and it is still magical 55 years later (124 years after the original ballet). While there is one scene with singing and dancing animals, the animals are portrayed somewhat more realistically than in a stereotypical Disney musical film.
About five years ago, Disney released Sleeping Beauty on Blu-ray after restoring the film from the original 70mm prints, so this is the first time the film had been seen in this format since the original theatrical release. This only adds to how beautiful the film is, and its release definitely shows the care taken in this restoration process. The colors of the original film are much more vibrant and breathtaking than in any other release I’ve seen (including some of the theatrical prints).
If you haven’t yet seen this film, you must have been living under a rock somewhere, so shake off the dirt and buy it or borrow it on Blu-ray so you can see it. It’s a definite “must see” as Sleeping Beauty is classic Disney at its absolute best.
Release Date: January 29, 1959 (USA)
MPAA Rating: G
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (social drinking for humorous effect)
Violence: 1 (magical curses, battle with dragon)