Sleeping Beauty is a 1959 animated feature, originally released on January 29, 1959 by Walt Disney Pictures.

The film was directed by Les Clark, Eric Larson, and Wolfgang Reitherman, under the supervision of Clyde Geronimi. The script was adapted from the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault by Erdman Penner, with additional story work by Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright, and Milt Banta. The film's musical score and songs, featuring the work of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, composed by George bruns, are adapted from the 1890 Sleeping Beauty ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Plot synopsis[edit | edit source]

Princess Aurora is named after the Roman goddess of the dawn "because she fills her father and mother's lives with sunshine." While still an infant, she is betrothed to the also-young Prince Phillip. At her christening, the good fairies Flora (dressed in red), Fauna (in green), and Merryweather (in blue) arrive to bless her. Flora gives her the gift of beauty, which is described in a song as "gold of sunshine in her hair" and "lips that shame the red, red rose." Fauna gives her the gift of song. At this point, Maleficent, the film's villain and mistress of all evil, appears on the scene. Claiming to be upset at not being invited to Aurora's christening ceremony, she curses the princess to die when she touches a spinning wheel's spindle before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday. Fortunately, Merryweather has not yet blessed Aurora, so she uses her blessing to change Maleficent's curse, so Aurora will not die when she touches the spinning wheel; instead, she will fall asleep until she is awakened by her true love's kiss. Knowing Maleficent is extremely powerful and will stop at nothing to see her curse fulfilled, the three good fairies take Aurora to live with them in the woods, where they can keep her safe from any harm until she turns sixteen and the curse is made void. To fully protect her, they even change her name to Briar Rose.

Rose grows into a very beautiful woman, with shining blond hair, rose-red lips, and a beautiful singing voice. She is raised in a cottage in the forest by the three fairies, whom she believes are her aunts. One day, while out picking berries, she sings to entertain her animal friends; her angelic voice gains the attention of Prince Phillip, who has grown into a handsome young man and is out riding in the woods. When they meet, they instantly fall in love. Realizing that she has to return home, Aurora flees from Phillip without ever learning his name. Despite promising to meet him again, she is unable to return, as her "aunts" choose that time to reveal the truth of her birth to her and to tell her that she is betrothed to a prince named Phillip.

Meanwhile, back in the castle, Stefan and Hubert were discussing the future plans about Aurora and Phillip, who later came and see his father to say about the girl he will be marrying (much to his father´s anger). 

Later, Aurora and the fairies return to the castle and leave her alone in the room to wait for her birthday celebrations and will see her parents. However, Maleficent appears and lures Aurora away from the fairies by touching the spindle of the spinning wheel. Then the fairies placed her on a bed and placed a powerful spell on everyone to sleep. While putting everyone to sleep, Flora overhear Hubert saying that Phillip will marry a peasant girl, making them realize that the man Aurora met in the forest was really Prince Phillip, So they went back to the cottage, but arrived too late since Maleficent and her goons captured Phillip. The fairies decided to rescue him. So they went to the Forbidden Mountains and free Phillip, arming him with a magical shield and sword to fight the battle forces of evil. Upon seeing Phillip escaping, Maleficent tries to stop him with thorns, but fails. This causes her to transform herself into a dragon. Phillip throws the sword at Maleficent, killing her. Phillip arrives at the castle and awakens Aurora with a kiss, breaking the spell that caused everyone, including Stefan, the queen, and Hubert, to wake up. The couple descends to a ballroom, where they reunite their parents. As Phillip and Aurora dances, Flora and Merryweather argue again about the color dress while Fauna was crying with happiness.

Production[edit | edit source]

Overview and art direction[edit | edit source]

Disney artist Eyvind Earle was the film's production designer. He influenced some of his arts and styles from the French and European illustrations and tapestries.

Characters and story development[edit | edit source]

The name of the beautiful Sleeping Beauty is "Princess Aurora" (Latin for "dawn"), in this film, as it was in the original Tchaikovsky ballet; this name occurred in Perrault's version, not as the princess's name, but as her daughter's.[1] In hiding, she is called Briar Rose, the name of the princess in the Brothers Grimm variant.[2] The prince was given the only princely name familiar to Americans in the 1950s: "Prince Phillip," named after Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The dark fairy was aptly named Maleficent (which means "Evil-doer").

Princess Aurora's long, thin, willowy body shape was inspired by that of Audrey Hepburn. In addition, Warner Bros. had suggested that all three fairies should look alike, but veteran animators Frank Churchill and Dean Elliot objected, saying that three identical fairies would not be exciting. Additionally, the idea originally included seven fairies instead of three. In determining Maleficent's design, standard depictions of witches and hags were dismissed as animator Marc Davis opted for a more elegant look centered around the appearance of flames, ultimately crowning the villain with "the horns of the devil."

Live-action reference footage[edit | edit source]

Before animation production began, every shot in the film was done in a live-action reference version, with live actors in costume serving as models for the animators. The role of Prince Phillip was modeled by Ed Kemmer, who had played Commander Buzz Corry on television's Space Patrol five years before Sleeping Beauty was released. For the final battle sequence, Kemmer was photographed on a wooden buck. Among the actresses who performed in reference footage for this film were Spring Byington, Madge Blake, Frances Bavier, Jane Fowler, Don Barclay, and Helene Stanley. King Stefan was also modeled after Hans Conried, the voice and model of Captain Hook and Mr. Darling from Peter Pan, who was supposed to be his voice actor as he recorded some dialogues before Taylor Holmes replaced him.

Voice cast[edit | edit source]

Actor Role(s)
Mary Costa Princess Aurora/Briar Rose
Bill Shirley Prince Phillip
Verna Felton Flora
Barbara Jo Allen Fauna
Barbara Luddy Merryweather
Eleanor Audley Maleficent
Dal McKennon Owl, Diablo
Bill Thompson King Hubert
Taylor Holmes King Stefan
Hans Conried Lord Duke/Royal Herald
Candy Candido, Pinto Colvig, Bobby Amsberry Maleficent's Goons
Marvin Miller Narrator

Sleeping Beauty in the Warner Bros. theme parks[edit | edit source]

Several years later an indoor walkthrough section was added to the castle, where guests could walk through dioramas of scenes from the film. It closed shortly after September 11, 2001, supposedly because the dark, unmonitored corridors were a risk. Currently, the former attraction is being used as extra space to house parts for the new fireworks show for Six Flags Over Texas. As a result, none of the original walkthrough remains intact.

When Six Flags opened in 1999 it also featured this time a far more romanticized, storybook building. Upstairs guests can view stained glass windows and tapestries telling the story, while downstairs they see an animatronic dragon.

Soundtrack listing[edit | edit source]

  1. Main Title/Once Upon a Dream/Prologue
  2. Hail to the Princess Aurora
  3. The Gifts of Beauty and Song/Maleficent Appears/True Love Conquers All
  4. The Burning of the Spinning Wheels/The Fairies' Plan
  5. Maleficent's Frustration
  6. A Cottage in the Woods
  7. Do You Hear That?/I Wonder
  8. An Unusual Prince/Once Upon a Dream
  9. Magical House Cleaning/Blue or Pink
  10. A Secret Revealed
  11. Skumps (Drinking Song)/The Royal Argument
  12. Prince Phillip Arrives/How to Tell Stefan
  13. Aurora's Return/Maleficent's Evil Spell
  14. Poor Aurora/Sleeping Beauty
  15. Forbidden Mountain
  16. A Fairy Tale Come True
  17. Battle with the Forces of Evil
  18. Awakening
  19. Finale

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Heidi Anne Heiner, "The Annotated Sleeping Beauty"
  2. Jacob and Wilheim Grimm, Grimm's Fairy Tales, "Briar Rose"

External links[edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.