Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty never made much of an impression on me, and I think it must be because Princess Aurora, while lovely and charming and all of that, is just not really an interesting character.  She's doesn't really do all that much, and the second half of the movie is spent, well, sleeping.  So let's face it: the real star of this movie is Prince Phillip.  Sleeping Beauty, in 1959, is also the last official "fairy tale" produced by Disney until 1989's The Little Mermaid.

I hate to be so negative about such a classic, but there were so many little things that annoyed me.  Perhaps it was just because the day we watched it I was having one of those days where it seems like everything little thing was going wrong anyway, and I was just in an irksome mood.  The characters just aren't that interesting and the film isn't all that exciting until the end.  Granted, it is old fashioned.  And normally I like old fashioned things and can appreciate them for what they are.  But I feel like even in 1959 I would hope people would just have more sense.  

For instance, when the three fairies arrive when Aurora is still a baby, they give her three gifts.  I'm certainly no super feminist, but I would hope that if they could give any gifts to a baby girl they could come up with better things than "beauty" and "song."  How about intelligence?  Or if it's too modern of an idea to have a woman be intelligent, even traits like compassion or patience or optimism would be preferable.  JK Rowling, when commenting on society's obsession with being skinny, once said something along the lines of "there are a thousand other things I would want my daughter to be before thin."  That's kind of how I feel in this situation.  Lord knows what Merryweather would have given her as a gift before she had to switch it up.  The one good thing is that I think this also shows how far Disney has come in portraying women, even if people are still critical.  Compare Princess Aurora to more modern Disney heroines like Tiana, Belle, and Mulan.

Anyhow, before I get to the positive, a few other things that bothered me: I realize that when it is the day of her 16th birthday you might be ready to breathe a sigh of relief, but would it really kill you to wait one more day to use your magic just for that extra insurance?  I mean, maybe I'm just a cautious person, but it's super frustrating that they're that close to everything being fine and they ruin it themselves.  And for it to be because of a blue vs. pink dress battle is silly.  I know they aren't the most mature fairies, but I'm supposed to believe that these women who can't even contain themselves over the color of a dress have raised this girl for the last 16 years and she's not completely screwed up?

On the plus side:  the scenes between Hubert and Stefan, the father of the two lovers, are cute and well done.    And Prince Phillip is absolutely the man.  Armed with the epic Sword of Truth and Shield of Virtue he not only is able to save Princess Aurora, he absolutely destroys a massively powerful Maleficent-turned-dragon.   The ending of the movie is really well done, I do love the classic romance and waking her up with a kiss.  Awww.

The Music
Sleeping Beauty really only has one song that is at all memorable, but it's a really excellent one.  "Once Upon a Dream" is a powerful, beautiful melody that fits in perfectly with a Disney fairy tale.  Other than that, the score is pretty good but the characters themselves don't do much singing, at least not like in other Disney movies.

The Villain
In my mind, Maleficent is arguably the worst (best?) Disney villain because she is so completely evil through and through.  Jason feels that other villains are more interesting, so he doesn't vote her as the worst/best.  I think we can definitely say she is one of the most evil though, because she is so completely ruthless and heartless.  Maleficent has a huge grudge and spends 16 years trying to destroy an innocent girl because she's hurt that she wasn't invited to a party (!).  To me, the scariest villains are the ones whose motives are completely insane and make no sense, because people like that are terrifying and unpredictable, following no known logic.

The Disney World Connection
Sleeping Beauty is actually bigger at some of the other Disney parks around the world, not WDW.  Disneyland's castle is Sleeping Beauty's, and Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong also has a Sleeping Beauty castle.  WDW, however, has less of a Sleeping Beauty icon (the castle there being, of course, Cinderella's).  However, Princess Aurora does make appearances throughout the parks, and Maleficent shows up in the Fantasmic! show.

My rating:  6 out of 10
Jason's rating:  7.5 out of 10


  1. This was my favorite Disney movie until "Beauty and the Beast" came along. I never gave much thought to the negatives you mentioned probably because I was so mesmerized by the beautiful colors on the screen. I had a Sleeping Beauty Colorforms set which I loved, back in the day when there weren't a million toys that came out with each Disney movie. My cousins had an upstairs neighbor that they didn't like and they called her Maleficent and told me she had a pointy head. I was young and gullible enough to believe it and lived in fear that I would meet up with her.

  2. I have to like the movie because my sister loved it :)! But I do like it own my own. Totally with you on the whole "beauty, song--oh geez, let's make the last one practical" bit.

    I always loved the colors and atmosphere each different place in the story had. The thorny forest? Scared the hell out of me as a kid!