Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Director: Clyde Geronimi
Writers: Erdman Penner, Charles Perrault, Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright, Milt Banta
Voice Cast: Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Barbara Luddy, Barbara Jo Allen, Taylor Holmes, Bill Thompson
Synopsis: A snubbed malevolent fairy casts a curse on a princess that only a prince can break, with the help of three good fairies.
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Note: This review is made in honor of the upcoming live action Disney film, "Maleficent."
7.7 / 10
- Great 2-D animation that has a lot of rich detail, and unique character designs
- Memorable songs that are both catchy and uplifting
- Features one of the greatest cinematic villains of all time that would go on to become a gold standard in today's modern cinema
- Jokes were funny
- Many of the characters are undeveloped
- The love story feels forced, as it relies on the whole "love at first sight" gimmick.
- Story is fairly weak and forgettable.
- Princess Aurora and Prince Charming have zero personality
- Too many plot holes that make no freaking sense.
I know you, as we met once upon a dream....
Like all kids, I too grew up on Disney animated features, so I certainly wasn't a stranger to this film. Would I say this was my favorite movie growing up as a kid? Not exactly. But over the years, I've grown to respect a lot of the older Disney films if only to appreciate the impact they've made not only on our own pop culture, but animation in general. Indeed, if it wasn't for a lot of the old classic Disney animated films, then a lot of the great animated features we get today wouldn't even exist. Heck, it's even been said that anime draws heavily from classic Disney animated movies.
Sure, most of the older ones are dated by today's standards, but they're worth appreciating nonetheless. "Sleeping Beauty" is by no means a bad movie, but it's severely dated by today's standards.
Unlike most of today's modern animated features, the main protagonists don't really have much of a personality. Prince Charming and Sleeping Beauty herself are essentially "Mary Sue" characters. The love between them revolves around the notion of "love at first sight", which comes off feeling more like a contrived romance if anything.
Don't get me wrong, I would never condemn anyone who buys into the whole "love at first sight" concept, but when it comes to movies using that concept (especially animated ones), it can often come off as lazy writing. Often making the viewer believe that the couple is only getting together out of plot convenience rather than feeling any genuine expressions of love.
Sadly, it's the same case here. Princess Aura (aka sleeping beauty) only talks to her prince for maybe like five minutes in this film, yet she's already in love with him? Granted, they do explain she's supposed to be like sixteen years old, but still. That just seems a bit too convenient, and I can't help but feel that kind of sends the wrong message to little girls. It's almost like Disney was saying that a prince charming will always come to save you from your problems, and that he'll be perfect in every fathomable way...which is complete and utter bulls***.....
However, we have to remember this film was released in 1959, and women weren't as independent back in those days. The roles of women have obviously evolved in today's society, so it's hard to really bash "Sleeping Beauty", as far as how it portrays it's female protagonist.
(Warning: The next two paragraphs will contain spoilers. Please skip to the next two if you don't want to read any spoilers)
Another problem this movie suffers from are the plot holes that don't make any sense. For example, the three fairies help Prince Charming kill Maleficent at the end of he film, by giving him enchanted weaponry. My thoughts are...why didn't they do this before? Why did they wait until Aurora was sixteen freaking years old to do some crap like this? If they had the power to create enchanted weapons to kill Maleficent all along, then why not kill her during those years? I'm sure the king could've sent some his best warriors to kill her, while using some enchanted weaponry. Hell, if the fairies had done that from the start, then problem solved! None of this hiding Aurora out in the woods crap would've been necessary.
Another plot hole that doesn't make sense is that the fairies don't know how to cook and make clothes. Sure, that would've been acceptable had it been mentioned during the first year that they were raising Aurora as a baby. However, this was mentioned while she was out picking berries on her sixteenth birthday. What the hell? Are you really suggesting that out of all those years none of these women ever learned how to cook or make clothing? That's bulls***. How the hell did they survive all those years then out in the woods if none of them know how to cook? Did one of them periodically go to town to trade for supplies? And what about Aurora's clothing? She mentioned how she's never been outside of the woods, so where did she get her clothes from? Did the fairies just magically know what her measurements would be at each stage of her life growing up? And if they did, then were they able to buy her these clothes before hiding her out in the woods? Also, where the hell did they get the money to buy her these clothes? Did the King give them the money or something? Granted, one could argue they might've used magic, but they took an oath not to use magic to avoid detection by Maleficent herself. Plus, it's even stated that they haven't used magic throughout those sixteen years of raising Aurora. Again, none of these issues are even addressed, but for the sake of plot convenience, you have to let it slide.
Although the film is a bit dated by today's standards, there are some good aspects that still hold up to this day. For starters, the animation is still every bit as impressive as it was back in 1959. In an era of CGI animated films, it's rare to ever see a traditional 2-D animated movie that features a lot of detail. Everything from the settings to even the unique character designs are beautiful to look at, as you have to appreciate the creativity that went behind the visuals for this film.
Not to mention, the jokes were funny revolving around the fairies. Granted, they're no Timon and Pumba, but they're not that bad.
Plus, if it wasn't for "Sleeping Beauty", then we never would've gotten one of the greatest cinematic villains of all time in Maleficent. Although very little is revealed about her character, as she remains as something of a mystery. However, she's portrayed as someone who's cunning, and an intimidating figure that operates in the shadows. Even her character design is unique, as it's easy to see why she continues to be the gold standard for villains to this day.
As for the songs of this movie, I thought they were still rather charming. Very upbeat, and they have a nice beat to them as well. Definitely one of the highlights of the film. Would I say they're the best that Disney had to offer throughout their run of animation dominance? Not exactly, but it's fairly enjoyable.
Overall, it's hard to really fault a movie like this, as there's a lot of things we have to keep in perspective. But at the same time, I'm not going to lie to my readers by saying that "Sleeping Beauty" was by far a great movie either. At best, "Sleeping Beauty' was fairly decent. It's a good animated movie to show your kids, as there's nothing bad in it per say. However, the story is fairly forgettable, and the characters are tragically underdeveloped. In fact, I almost felt sorry for Maleficent being a villain in such a poorly written film, but it's not too bad that I wouldn't want to watch this again in the future.
Hence, if you're a die hard Disney animation fan, then it's definitely worth checking out.
Once Upon a Dream
© 2014 Steven Escareno