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Disney's Sleeping Beauty on DVD

Updated on December 12, 2014
TolovajWordsmith profile image

Tolovaj is a small publishing house specializing in literature for children. The theory of fairytales is one of our passions.

Sleeping Beauty (Two-Disc Platinum Edition)
Sleeping Beauty (Two-Disc Platinum Edition)

Did you know Disney company used real actors to shoot the scenes before their cartoonists draw them? This way they provided the most realistic source for the work of the artists.

 

Many versions of the same tale

The Sleeping Beauty was not among my favorite fairy tales when I was a kid. It lacks of action and humor and it is just too girlish. Now, many years later, I am much more familiar with the history of Sleeping Beauty. Officially being dramatist I understand what was wrong with the story and I am glad there are so many better versions than Grimms'.

Did you know Brothers Grimm didn't include this story in their collection at first because it is not a part of German folklore, but later they connected it with a myth about Valkyrie with several similarities?

Charles Perrault wrote his version with an ogress (mother of the prince) who tried to eat the princess and her two children. Although this version was very popular in 18th and 19th century, it's felt out of favor many decades ago and now only the biggest fans of fairy tales are familiar with it.

Although I am not a fan of Disney's adaptations of classic fairy tales in general, the company made great job in this case. We have plenty of action and humor (as we can expect for good family fun) and the movie is much more accomplished by dramatic point of view. In classic version a villain (evil fairy) never gets punishment, while Disney's offers much more appropriate moral: good will defeat evil.

Black and white illustration of Briar Rose by Arthur Rackham
Black and white illustration of Briar Rose by Arthur Rackham | Source

How animated Sleeping Beauty differ from book version

Well, this is not the only change in the animated movie. We have much more active princess Aurora (in classic version she doesn't even have a name, we can say she is actually a stereotyped object) and fairies with many humorous interrelations what makes her better role model, we got much more information about prince, what makes their marriage more believable and all in all we can say Disney made a complete story with all their signature blows and whistles.

On the other hand with this approach an important shift in narration had to be made. The princess, who is in sleep for relatively large part of the movie, is pretty out of focus in many scenes, where we can see much more action and interaction around the good fairies and the evil witch (with a cat as a typical signature animal of evil sorcery).

It is not my intention to produce a complete summary. This is great movie which also makes a great gift and is a must in everybody's home library. It's a classic, so you probably already know what I am talking about. If you still haven't seen this animated masterpiece, you have a chance to grab it on luxury DVD right here, right now. Maybe I can add just another interesting trivia ...

Disney Sleeping Beauty Once Upon a Dream

source: pixabay, edited by me
source: pixabay, edited by me

Until 20 century babies were always dressed in white. Then one of the hospitals in Chicago started dressing boys and girls in different colors. Blue for girls and pink for boys. Surprised? Don't be! Blue is color of Virgin Mary and red is color of fight, aggression, power. It was logic to choose blue for girls and pink (lighter, softer version of red for boys). So why we use these colors just the opposite ways now?

Nobody knows for sure but it seems the change happened between 1950 to 1960, somewhere around the premiere of Disney's Sleeping Beauty. In the last scene of the movie the fairies compete which of them can make more beautiful dress for the princess Aurora. One wants it blue, the other pink. The movie ends with wedding dress in both colors. Was the cartoon simply reporting the about the color preferences or it was actually part of the switch?

Sleeping Beauty in the Woods, illustrated by Harry Clarke
Sleeping Beauty in the Woods, illustrated by Harry Clarke | Source

Disney is important part of our culture. While we still connect the name with Mickey mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto and other cartoon characters, at least two major breakthroughs in the history of the company were made with classic fairy tales like The Sleeping Beauty.

First was definitely make of The Snow White, the first full length full color animated movie which set standards for all the following works for children in this media (and family movies as well). These huge projects were very demanding from the financial point of view. There were hundreds of thousands of man hours and millions of dollars invested in animated movies with always present risk of financial failure.

While The Snow White and Seven Dwarfs panned out as great box office hit, Sleeping Beauty didn't work so well when it hit the theaters. There may be many reasons for that. Too much screen time for fairies and not enough for the title character may be one of the most important ones. Long, more than six years of production, can be another. Time when the final version was released was probably not so much in favor of the princesses as the time of some other classic tales before.

The budget spent for the production was the biggest so far and company was facing possible financial problems. But with the brand of Disney Princess established in the 1990s we can say the masters managed to hit the nail once more. This franchise, based on old, well known and copyright free tales, is worth billions of dollars today and Aurora, as the Sleeping Beauty, is important part of its success.

Babies and colors

What do you think about color pink?

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Bruno Bettelheim believed version from Grimms is perfect for teenagers because it tells we should not panic if we miss something during growing up. Long sleep symbolize these missed opportunities and wedding in the end tells us eventually everything will come to the right place.

This is one of the best explanations of Sleeping Beauty's popularity – no matter what we miss in one part of one's life, everything can still end happily ever after.

So stay optimistic!

Sleeping Beauty in the Woods by Gustave Dore
Sleeping Beauty in the Woods by Gustave Dore

More background of the Sleeping Beauty

What makes this tale so special to stand out of so many other classic stories for kids? For start we should know it wasn't meant for children in the first place. While many other old stories can't be traced to their, sometimes more than thousand years old origins and they officially belong to folklore, this one is much 'younger' and definitely made by professional writer with commercial goals in mind.

We don't know who wrote the first version of the sleeping Beauty, we already can find all the major elements (beautiful maiden in the tower, prince visiting a girl, while she is sleeping, a jealous woman with huge powers, ...) in medieval French romance novels which were often a combination of prose and verse with illustrations. The same elements were mixed in different stories and almost always upgraded with some kind of parody.

Clear French origin of this tale is one of the possible reasons why brothers Grimm didn't want to include it in their collection at first until they managed to find enough evidence for their theory of mythological origins of the fairy tales in myth about Brunhilde. They were also familiar with Italian versions (Basile, Straparola), but these never fit in their concepts because the prince, which is always presented as a hero in their tales, is far from being a suitable role model in Straparola's or Basile's variations of the same story.

All presented illustrations are public domain because they were first published before 1923 and their authors died more than 70 years ago.

Should Aurora wear pink or blue on her wedding?

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    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 3 years ago from Ljubljana

      @WriterJanis2: :)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 3 years ago

      Have to pop back in for my Disney fix!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @WriterJanis2: Indeed:)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      I like both colors so either is fine with me. What a classic Disney movie.