Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sleeping Beauty

The classic tale of a princess cursed by witch who falls into deep slumber on the night of her 16th birthday only to be awakened by love’s first kiss is, in many ways, one of Walt Disney‘s most amazing accomplishments. However, most people don’t remember that initially Sleeping Beauty was a box office disappointment. The film which took six years and cost $6,000,000 wasn’t an immediate hit in theaters and the overruns had even Walt Disney wondering if feature animation would continue to be a profitable enterprise.

Using new sound and visual technology, the film was the first Disney film to be created in Super Technirama 70 increasing the size and scope of the negative which called for more detailed backgrounds and artwork than ever before.  It’s also the first of the Disney films to put everything on screen in focus allowing the viewer’s eye to move freely between the lush sets and brightly colored characters.

The new restoration of the film may look better than when the film was initially released almost half a century ago.  Although, in some small spots, the artwork may look dated, the style and of the film retains much of its magic.

Add to this some good music, some of Disney’s most memorable moments (Aurora’s dance with the animals in the woods, Maleficent’s transformation into the dragon), and one of Disney’s most memorable villains (voiced by Eleanor Audley, who also did the Evil Stepmother in Cinderella) and you’ve got all the makings for a very good film.

The 2008 Platinum 50th Anniversary is a terrific two-disc set with a lavishly restored copy of the film and filled to the brim with extras (deleted and alternate scenes, music videos, trivia, sing-a-longs, and featurettes on the creation of the film, its art and style, and the lasting legacy of the character and film) for both adults and kids.  Although the movie itself is a bit short (75 minutes) there’s plenty of extras here to keep you busy.  Unless you’ve got something against fairy tales this one’s a must to add to your DVD collection.

2014 Diamond Edition: The new Diamond Edition (released in 2014) sadly lack several of the extras of the 2008 version. The new version does include new (far more generic) featurettes on Disney villains and Disney animation along with some previously unreleased deleted scenes.

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