Movie Review: Sleeping Beauty (1959)

The musical – animated fantasy film was released on January 29, 1959 based on Charles Perrault’s The Sleeping Beauty.  It was the last film adopting fairytales until 30 years later. The movie begins with King Stefan (Taylor Holmes) and Queen Leah (Verna Felton) welcoming the birth of their daughter Princess Aurora (Mary Costa), who they’ve struggled to have for years. At the celebration, she is betrothed to Prince Phillip (Bill Shirley) the son of King Hubert (Bill Thompson), a good friend King Stefan/ Both Kings wanted their kingdoms to be united.

Three fairies, Flora ( Verna Felton), Fauna (Barbara Jo Allen) and Merryweather (Barbra Luddy) are among the guests. Flora and Fauna gift Princess Aurora with beauty and song. As Merryweather was preparing to bless her, the evil fairy, Maleficent (Eleanor Audley) storms in, told that she wasn’t welcomed, Maleficent curses Auora to die on her 16th birthday from touching the spindle of a spinning wheel. Horrified, the King and Queen beg the fairies to help, Marryweather can’t take the curse away but changes it to a deep sleep instead of death. The only way to break the curse will be true loves kiss. Still in fear, King Stefan demands that all the spinning wheels should be burned. The fairies don’t think that will be enough to stop the curse, so they hide her away in a small cottage until her 16th birthday. 

Fast forward to her 16th birthday, Aurora, now known as Briar Rose, is asked to pick berries by the fairies. While she’s gone the fairies prepare a surprise party, Meanwhile, Briar Rose is singing “Once Upon a Dream” through the woods with her animal friends when a young man appears singing with her. He eases her fears with his voice, instantly falling in love with the mysterious prince. Briar Rose asks if he can come to the cottage later to meet her family and he agrees.

Back at the cottage, Flora, Merryweather and Fauna bring their wands out to make Briar Rose ’s birthday perfect. While arguing over the color of the dress, Flora and Merryweather continuously use their magic to out due the other, attracting Maleficent’s raven. the raven goes back to reveal Aurora’s location.

Briar Rose returns home, telling the fairies all about the mysterious man she fell in love with in the woods. The fairies tell Briar the truth about her heritage. Back at the castle Prince Phillip tells his father, King Hubert, about a common girl named Briar Rose that he’s in love with. King Hubert tries to convince Phillip to forget the girl because he’s betrothed to Princess Aurora.

The fairies bring Aurora to the castle and hide her in a room upstairs until her 16th birthday celebration begins. Maleficent lures Aurora away and tricks her into pricking her finger on a spindle. The fairies place Aurora in the tower on a bed. While searching for help they overhear King Stefan and King Hubert’s conversation, realizing Prince Phillip is the mystery man. Maleficent kidnaps him as he goes to the cottage to find Briar Those. Locking him away. The fairies rescue him. Maleficent, furious uses magic to surround Aurora’s tower with thorns. Prince Phillip bests her, so Maleficent turns into a dragon. With the help of the fairies magic. Phillip throws his sword into Maleficent’s heart. Rushing to awaken Aurora with a kiss, the curse is broken and the two live happily ever after, while Flora and Merryweather continue changing the color of Aurora’s dress.

Sleeping beauty is now beautiful rendered and celebrated but when it first premiered it almost bankrupted Disney. It’s not a film a can sit through often as I find Aurora to have no quality to her character in this film. I would love to see Disney make a live action with more depth to her character like they did for Maleficent in the live actions they made. Signing off with the best scene from this film.

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