Do you love naps? Do you have bumbling color-coordinated best friends/spinster aunts? What about helpful animal neighbors? Do you find that if someone tells you not to touch something you absolutely frickin’ have to touch it?!
Is your name Aurora and/or some combination of “Briar” and “Rose”? Because this movie might be about you.
The other night, the Fella and I got together with our very dear friends Claire and Kurt to talk about the utterly radiant Aurora (Official Disney Princess Number 3, for those of you playing along at home) and her majestic, ballet-inspired motion picture.
The Film: Sleeping Beauty (1959)
- Sleeping Beauty was in production for nearly a decade – they began crafting the story in 1951 and recorded the voices in 1952. Animation spanned 1953 to 1958.
- Due to its many successful subsequent re-releases (1970, 1979, 1986, and 1995), Sleeping Beauty is the second-highest grossing film of 1959 – following Ben Hur.
- The score of the film includes many overt references to and motifs borrowed from the orchestrations of Tchaikovsky’s ballet version of Sleeping Beauty.
- Even though the film had not yet been released at the time of the park’s opening in 1955, Disneyland’s castle was named for Sleeping Beauty to help promote the film.
- The debate in the film about whether Aurora’s dress should be blue or pink was added into the script because the filmmakers genuinely could not agree on what color the dress should be.
- This is the last Disney feature to have had its cells inked by hand. After this, cleaned up pencil drawings were xeroxed onto the cells.
- The fairytale book at the beginning of the film is a real, physical book they filmed live. It was handmade by Eyvind Earle, the primary designer of the film’s aesthetic. He was responsible for painting the backgrounds and designing the overall look and feel of the film. The fairytale book appears sometimes on tour with other Disney artifacts, and was restored to its original quality in 2008.
- A number of elements in the film were revisited in later films, specifically The Sword in the Stone – i.e. the owl in the forest led to Merlin’s Archimedes, Maleficent in dragon form led to Madame Mim in dragon form, etc. Several animation sequences and backgrounds were also reused in Sword in the Stone and similar animation techniques were used in The Black Cauldron.
- The original budget for the show was estimated at $6 million, and did about $51.6 million at the box office.
- For fun, here’s a video clip of Helene Stanley acting as Aurora for the animating team:
- In my head, there was no queen really present in the film – but there she is! What’s her name? Oh. She doesn’t get one. The narrator calls her ‘fair’ and that’s it.
- Pretty sure that if Aurora had been born a boy, none of this nonsense would have happened. Also, it’s historically unrealistic to think they’d be this wound up about a girl baby after the King and Queen have waited for “many years” to have a child. Hello, where’s the heir?
- DAAAAAANG you guys, Maleficent though! Like, she’s obviously top-tier Disney villain material, and she’s a classic favorite. She’s iconically evil and majestic as all get out – and she embodies (literally) the Disney Evil Colors of Purple and Green. She is epic beyond measure. And definitely one of the most interesting characters in the film. No wonder they spent $180 million on a live action flick about her 55 years later.
- Burning all the spinning wheels in the kingdom did seem somewhat of a rash move; what about all the yarn spinners and weavers in the realm? Totally out of a job now. Way to unbalance the economy, Stefan. Also couldn’t someone just make a new one? Also Maleficent has magic and can just wish one into existence…?????
- Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather are adorably bumbling spinster aunts. I’d watch their spinoff sitcom.
- The narrator repeatedly calls the house in the forest a “woodcutter’s cottage” but like…where’s the woodcutter?
- Fauna = Amelia Bedelia.
- Philip is the best prince – but he’s a bit of a smug bastard. Where are his attendants? Where are his servants and hunting hounds and pageantry? Philip needs no pageantry. PHILIP IS HIS OWN PAGEANT.
- Pink vs. blue! The dress debate never ends!
- This movie’s soundtrack was directly jacked from Tchaikovsky’s ballet – not just some of it, but like all of it. They don’t even disguise it. Aurora prances around barefoot and graceful as a prima ballerina despite having no training whatsoever.
- That being said, Aurora is the gracefullest creature that ever lived. It’s jawdroppingly pretty to watch.
- Hats off to Samson, the first of a long line of Disney horse sidekicks with side-eye. Yes, Major in Cinderella was the first Disney horse, but he was sweet and without guile. Samson’s got sass.
- At the film’s climax, Flora goes off the deep end and decides to put the entire kingdom to sleep instead of telling the royal family what happened to Aurora right away. And then when the others say they can’t go to Maleficent’s house – she decides that they can and they will – and the movie becomes Ocean’s Eleven for fairy godmothers.
- Maleficent’s house is ridiculously close to King Stefan’s castle. She can see their front door. No wonder she was mad when they didn’t invite her to the party, she could see how many other people were invited. SO rude.
- I completely forgot that Aurora only has like 18 lines and doesn’t talk for the last twenty minutes of the film. She doesn’t even get to tell her fairy godmothers which color dress she prefers! It’s like she lost her last half of the script or something.
- It all works out though – Philip and Aurora are going to have beautiful children. Presumably. If they want.
- What if Aurora never speaks again? What if that was the real curse?
- I really want to watch the Maleficent movie now…
Up Next: Put on your finest array of black and white, and maybe even some spots… it’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians!
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