Sleeping Beauty


1h 15m 1959

Brief Synopsis

Adaptation of the fairy tale of the same name. Princess Aurora is cursed by the evil witch Maleficent - who declares that before Aurora reaches her 16th birthday she will die by a poisoned spinning-wheel. To try to prevent this, the king places her into hiding, in the care of three goodnatured - but not too bright - fairies.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1959
Premiere Information
World premiere in Los Angeles: 29 Jan 1959
Production Company
Walt Disney Productions
Distribution Company
Buena Vista Film Distribution Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the fairy tale "La belle au bois dormant" in the compilation Histoires ou contes de temps passe by Charles Perrault (1697) and the fairy tale "Dornröschen" in Kinder und Hausmärchen , collected by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm (Germany, 1812--15).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (RCA Sound System) (70 mm prints), Mono (35 mm prints), Stereo (original release)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.20 : 1, 2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In a faraway kingdom during the 14th century, King Stefan and his wife yearn for a child, and finally their wish is granted with the birth of Princess Aurora. During a holiday declared in her honor, they announce the betrothal of Aurora to Prince Phillip, the young son of neighboring King Hubert. At the celebration, the kingdom's three fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, arrive to bestow their presents on the baby, beginning with the gifts of great beauty and song. Just then, however, Maleficent, the mistress of all evil, appears to protest the fact that she has not been invited, and proclaims a curse on the girl: Before her sixteenth birthday, Aurora will prick her finger on a spinning wheel spindle and die. After Maleficent disappears in a burst of fire, Merryweather, whose powers are limited to doing good, does her best to counteract the curse, decreeing that Aurora will not die but instead will sleep until the kiss of true love awakens her. Stefan remains terrified, however, and burns all the spindles in the kingdom. To help ease his fears, the fairies come up with a plan to hide Aurora by posing as peasant women raising a foundling child deep in the woods. The king and queen are despondent to lose their child but, desperate to save her, agree. The years pass, during which Maleficent searches fruitlessly for the girl, until the day of Aurora's sixteenth birthday, when the sorceress sends her trusty raven to find her. Having been raised under the name "Briar Rose" in the secrecy of the forest, Aurora knows nothing of her heritage, but longs for a wider world to inhabit. The fairies plan an elaborate birthday party and try hard to create a dress and cake without the aid of magic, which they have avoided over the past sixteen years so as not to alert Maleficent. Meanwhile, Aurora wanders into the woods, with only the woodland animals for friends, to sing about her desire to meet her true love. Nearby, Phillip hears her lovely voice and, entranced, follows the melodic tones. When the animals spot handsome Phillip, they lure him closer to Aurora, where he is able to sweep her into a dance. Although she is startled, their immediate attraction is too strong for her to resist, and before slipping away, she invites him to her cottage that evening. Meanwhile, the dismal state of the handmade birthday gifts spurs Merryweather to convince the others that they should, this once, use their wands. They lock all the windows and doors to prevent the escape of the magic, but when Merryweather and Flora argue over the color of the dress, their competing charms send sparks of fairy dust shooting through the chimney, and Maleficent's raven is able to locate the source as he flies by. When Aurora returns, lovestruck, the fairies finally reveal that she is the princess and must return to the kingdom, now that she has safely reached the age of sixteen. Although eager to meet her real parents, Aurora is crushed to lose her love, whose name she still does not know. In the kingdom, the two kings rejoice about Aurora's imminent return, toasting her health until Phillip arrives, revealing in secret to his father that he has fallen in love with a peasant girl. While Hubert worries over how to inform Stefan, the fairies sneak Aurora into the palace tower. There, Maleficent, tipped off by her raven, transforms into a disk of light and enchants Aurora into pricking her finger on a poison spindle, after which the princess falls into unconsciousness. When the fairies find her, they realize that the grief over her fate will ruin the kingdom, and so place the whole realm into a deep sleep. Only Phillip, headed to the cottage in the forest, remains awake. There, however, he is captured by Maleficent, who holds him prisoner in her dungeon while her goons dance in celebration of her victory. The fairies make themselves as small as possible and, risking great personal danger, enter the dungeon, where they are able to free Phillip and bestow on him a magical shield of virtue and sword of truth. The raven shouts a warning to Maleficent, but Phillip, with the help of the fairies, is able to fight off the goons and escape on his steed, Sampson. Maleficent throws bolts of lightning at him and places a spell on the castle to surround it with thorny briars so Phillip cannot gain entrance. Then, as he tries to cut his way through the thorns, the sorceress summons "all the powers of hell" to transform herself into a mighty dragon, igniting the brush with her fiery breath. Phillip's shield helps him deflect the fire, but her breath soon knocks the shield from his hands. In a final effort, the fairies charm Phillip's sword, proclaiming "Oh sword of truth, fly swift and sure, that evil die and good endure." With one thrust, the sword pierces the dragon's breast, and Maleficent dies in a cloud of smoke. Within moments, all spells are broken, and the kingdom awakens as Phillip confers the kiss of true love on Aurora, rousing her from her sleep. They enter the throne room arm in arm, amazing Hubert and thrilling Stefan and his queen, who joyfully welcome their daughter. Flora and Merryweather continue to bicker over the color of Aurora's dress, changing it back and forth from blue to pink while the happy couple dances, oblivious.

Crew

Tom Adair

Composer

Hal Ambro

Character anim

Ken Anderson

Production Design

Dick Anthony

Backgrounds

Ray Aragon

Layout

Frank Armitage

Backgrounds

Milt Banta

Addl story

Jack Boyd

Effects anim

Roy M. Brewer Jr.

Film Editor

George Bruns

Music Adapted

George Bruns

Composer

Jack Buckley

Effects anim

Bob Carlson

Character anim

Les Clark

Seq Director

Eric Cleworth

Character anim

Tom Codrick

Layout

Robert O. Cook

Sound Supervisor

Don Da Gradi

Production Design

Basil Davidovich

Layout

Marc Davis

Director anim

Al Dempster

Backgrounds

Walt Disney

Presented By

Eyvind Earle

Col styling

Sammy Fain

Composer

Clyde Geronimi

Supervisor Director

Blaine Gibson

Character anim

Don Griffith

Layout

Victor Haboush

Layout

Joe Hale

Layout

Donald Halliday

Film Editor

Winston Hibler

Addl story

Winston Hibler

Composer

Jack Huber

Layout

Ralph Hulett

Backgrounds

Ken Hultgren

Character anim

Ub Iwerks

Special processes

Ollie Johnston

Director anim

Homer Jones

Layout

Milt Kahl

Director anim

Evelyn Kennedy

Music Editor

John Kennedy

Character anim

Hal King

Character anim

Fred Kopietz

Character anim

Eric Larson

Seq Director

Jack Lawrence

Music Score

Jack Lawrence

Composer

Bill Layne

Backgrounds

John Lounsbery

Director anim

Don Lusk

Character anim

Eustace Lycett

Special processes

Dan Macmanus

Effects anim

Joshua Meador

Effects anim

Fil Motola

Backgrounds

George Nicholas

Character anim

Erni Nordli

Layout

Ken O'brien

Character anim

Tom Oreb

Character syling

Bill Peet

Addl story

Erdman Penner

Composer

Erdman Penner

Story Adapted

Walt Peregoy

Backgrounds

Ken Peterson

Casting Director of anim artists

Ken Peterson

Prod Supervisor

John Rarig

Choral Arrangements

Wolfgang Reitherman

Seq Director

Joe Rinaldi

Addl story

Anthony Rizzo

Backgrounds

Ted Sears

Addl story

Ted Sears

Composer

John Sibley

Character anim

Mclaren Stewart

Layout

Henry Tanous

Character anim

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Composer

The Berlin Symphony Orchestra

Score rec by

Frank Thomas

Director anim

Richard H. Thomas

Backgrounds

Harvey Toombs

Character anim

Thelma Witmer

Backgrounds

Ralph Wright

Addl story

Bob Youngquist

Character anim

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1959
Premiere Information
World premiere in Los Angeles: 29 Jan 1959
Production Company
Walt Disney Productions
Distribution Company
Buena Vista Film Distribution Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the fairy tale "La belle au bois dormant" in the compilation Histoires ou contes de temps passe by Charles Perrault (1697) and the fairy tale "Dornröschen" in Kinder und Hausmärchen , collected by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm (Germany, 1812--15).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (RCA Sound System) (70 mm prints), Mono (35 mm prints), Stereo (original release)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.20 : 1, 2.35 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Score

1959

Articles

Frank Thomas (1912-2004)


Legendary Disney animator Frank Thomas, whose work ranged from such '30s classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to equally acclaimed modern hits like The Rescuers, died on September 8 in his home in Flintridge, California. He had been in declining health since suffering a brain hemorrhage several months ago. He was 92.

He was born on September 5, 1912 in Santa Monica, California. He showed an interest in art and drawing at a very young age, so it came as no surprise when he graduated from Stanford University in 1934 with a degree in art. Soon after, he began work for Walt Disney Studios and did his first animation for the short Mickey's Elephant in 1936, and was one of the key animators for the studios' first, feature-length animated picture, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). His memorable creations of the seven dwarfs offered an emotional sweep and humorous detail to animated characters that audiences had never experienced before, and his career was set.

Thomas' work from this point on would be nothing short of the high watermarks in Disney animation that is justly cherished the world over: the title character in Pinocchio, (1940); Thumper teaching Bambi to skate in Bambi (1941); the wicked stepmother in Cinderella (1950), the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (1951), the terrific fight sequence between Captain Hook and Peter Pan in Peter Pan (1953); the Lady and Rover falling in love over a dish of spaghetti and meatballs in Lady and the Tramp (1955); the three good fairies in Sleeping Beauty (1959); Baloo, Mowgli and Kaa in The Jungle Book (1967); and his final work of Bernard and Bianca in the underrated The Rescuers (1977).

Thomas retired from Disney in early 1978, ending a near 44-year relationship with the studio. With longtime friend, and fellow Disney collaborator Ollie Johnston, they went on to author many fine books about the art of animation, most notably Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life (Hyperian Press, 1978) and The Disney Villain (Hyperion Press, 1993). He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jeanette; sons Thomas, Doug and Gregg; daughter Ann Ayers; and three grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole
Frank Thomas (1912-2004)

Frank Thomas (1912-2004)

Legendary Disney animator Frank Thomas, whose work ranged from such '30s classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to equally acclaimed modern hits like The Rescuers, died on September 8 in his home in Flintridge, California. He had been in declining health since suffering a brain hemorrhage several months ago. He was 92. He was born on September 5, 1912 in Santa Monica, California. He showed an interest in art and drawing at a very young age, so it came as no surprise when he graduated from Stanford University in 1934 with a degree in art. Soon after, he began work for Walt Disney Studios and did his first animation for the short Mickey's Elephant in 1936, and was one of the key animators for the studios' first, feature-length animated picture, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). His memorable creations of the seven dwarfs offered an emotional sweep and humorous detail to animated characters that audiences had never experienced before, and his career was set. Thomas' work from this point on would be nothing short of the high watermarks in Disney animation that is justly cherished the world over: the title character in Pinocchio, (1940); Thumper teaching Bambi to skate in Bambi (1941); the wicked stepmother in Cinderella (1950), the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (1951), the terrific fight sequence between Captain Hook and Peter Pan in Peter Pan (1953); the Lady and Rover falling in love over a dish of spaghetti and meatballs in Lady and the Tramp (1955); the three good fairies in Sleeping Beauty (1959); Baloo, Mowgli and Kaa in The Jungle Book (1967); and his final work of Bernard and Bianca in the underrated The Rescuers (1977). Thomas retired from Disney in early 1978, ending a near 44-year relationship with the studio. With longtime friend, and fellow Disney collaborator Ollie Johnston, they went on to author many fine books about the art of animation, most notably Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life (Hyperian Press, 1978) and The Disney Villain (Hyperion Press, 1993). He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jeanette; sons Thomas, Doug and Gregg; daughter Ann Ayers; and three grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Good gracious! Who left the mop running?
- Flora
Stop, mop!
- Merryweather
You're living in the past father, this is the 14th century!
- Prince Phillip
Now shall you deal with ME, o Prince -- and all the powers of HELL!
- Maleficent
Did you hear that my pet? All these years they've been looking for a baby.
- Maleficent
I'd like to turn her into a fat ol' hop toad.
- Merryweather
Now, dear, that isn't a very nice thing to say.
- Fauna
Besides, we can't. You know our magic doesn't work that way.
- Flora
It can only do good, dear, to bring joy and happiness.
- Fauna
Well, *that* would make me happy.
- Merryweather

Trivia

Art direction for this movie was inspired by Russian folk art.

In both Sleeping Beauty (1959) and Cinderella (1950), the main character's friends surprise her with a new dress, calling out "Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Happy birthday!"

Live actors in costume served as models for the animators. The role of Prince Phillip was modeled by Ed Kemmer, who had played Commander Buzz Corry on television's "Space Patrol" (1951) five years before "Sleeping Beauty" was released. For the final battle sequence Kemmer was photographed on a wooden buck. All the live actors' performances were later screened for the animators' reference.

Disney Studios has no record as to who provided the voice for the queen, Briar Rose's mother.

The first Disney animated feature to be created for the 70mm format.

Notes

The film begins with the image of a book of fairy tales opening and ends with the image of the book closing. Voice-over narration is heard intermittently throughout the picture. According to contemporary studio press materials, Walt Disney originally considered making an animated version of the fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" in 1950, and in 1953 went into full production but was soon delayed due to the studio's efforts to develop the Disneyland theme park, television programs and live-action feature films. Disney challenged his artists to make the film look unique and as high-quality as possible, necessitating years of continuous work.
       Although the onscreen credits read "From the Charles Perrault version of Sleeping Beauty," some reviews, as well as the DVD edition of the film, acknowledge the early nineteenth century, Grimm Brothers version of "Sleeping Beauty" as a source for the story. Disney studio press materials note that numerous story sessions resulted in a new take on the Perrault legend, including the use of three fairies instead of seven, and the renaming of the villain from "Uglyane" to "Maleficent." The film's music was based on the Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky ballet The Sleeping Beauty, which was first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1890. Although an August 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Jack Lawrence was entering his fifteenth week of work on the film's score, only George Bruns is credited onscreen as music adapter.
       The following information was included in studio press materials and in the extra materials on the film's 2003 special edition DVD release: The production utilized 300 artists and roughly one million drawings before its completion. Although Eyvind Earle's opening credit reads "Color styling," he provided the entire overall design and artistic concept for the animation of Sleeping Beauty. Earle (1916-2000) began his career as a painter, became a Disney background artist in 1951 and went on to become a modernist painter noted for developing the style of "designed realism." Disney appeared in a promotional short for Sleeping Beauty in which he termed its animation "the art of painting in lifelike motion." Earle consulted many ancient artworks, including medieval paintings and architecture, gothic art and Persian tapestries, to create the stylized, modernist background and character design, which went on to inspire many animation artists.
       Press materials specify which artists were responsible for each part of the film, as follows: Marc Davis created and animated both "Aurora" and Maleficient. He conceptualized Maleficent's design as containing the goat horns of a devil figure, a bat-wing-like collar and a robe that evokes both flames and reptilian scales. Wolfgang Reitherman directed the prince vs. dragon duel, which was animated by Eric Cleworth. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston animated the three fairies, while Milt Kahl crafted "Prince Phillip."
       As with previous animated Disney features, some scenes were first photographed using live-action models, which the artists used to create their sketches. Helene Stanley, who had earlier served as the model for "Cinderella," acted as a live-action model for Princess Aurora; Ed Kemmer was Prince Phillip's model; Jane Fowler and Eleanor Audley modeled Maleficent; and Spring Byington, Frances Bavier and Madge Blake provided modeling for the fairies. Verna Felton, who provided the voice of "Flora," was also the voice of such Disney characters as "Lady," "Thumper's mother" and Cinderella's fairy godmother. Although studio press materials referred to Sleeping Beauty as Mary Costa's feature-film debut, she first appeared in the 1953 RKO picture Marry Me Again. The film marked the last feature film appearance of long-time character actor and silent star Taylor Holmes, who died on 30 September 1959.
       Sleeping Beauty marked the first animated feature to be shot in Technirama 70mm, a technique that exposes images onto double 35mm frames, which are then processed on a 70mm print. As noted in the Variety review, the film was printed on special printer lenses developed for Disney by Panavision. The format, which allows the film to move horizontally through the camera instead of vertically and provides a greater range of vision, required the artists to move the characters through a large field of action via intricate mathematical calculations, and to create new color schemes.
       According to press materials, the film took six years to complete, at a cost of $6 million. On April 30, 1958, the Disneyland television program broadcast a promotion for the film consisting of a short entitled "An Adventure in Art." A November 1958 Los Angeles Times article conjectured that the "prohibitive cost" might make it the last animated fairytale feature ever produced, and, in fact, the film did not recoup its cost in its first domestic release. It was re-released several times, however, including in 1971 and 1979, and an October 1979 Daily Variety article noted that that year's re-release was expected to bring in $5 million, raising the total profits to $10 million. Upon the initial release of Sleeping Beauty, reviews were very favorable, although Bosley Crowther of New York Times remarked that the film was strikingly similar to Disney's 1938 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). Crowther later wrote an article (New York Times 22 February 1959) that questioned whether or not the film contained too much frightening violence for children, concluding that the answer was up to the children's parents.
       Although a March 1959 ^DV article noted that the president of the Independent Exhibitors and Drive-In Association of New England registered a complaint that the 70mm format limited the exhibition of the film, the reviews stated that the film would first be shown in Technirama but then would be adapted to 35mm CinemaScope screens. The image from the film of Sleeping Beauty's castle was subsequently used as the model for the entrance to Fantasyland in the Disney theme parks, and a drawing of the castle was incorporated into one of the company's logos.
       A 1903 silent feature produced by Pathé Frères marked the first of many film and television versions of Sleeping Beauty (see AFI Catalog. Film Beginnings, 1893-1910). The Disney version was first released on home video on October 14, 1986, adding significantly to its earnings. Sleeping Beauty received a nomination for a 1959 Academy Award for Best Music (Scoring Musical Picture), George Bruns. The 2003 DVD release featured a digital restoration of the original film, supervised by Aaron Dem.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1997

Released in United States March 1980

Released in United States Winter January 1959

Re-released in United States 1970

Re-released in United States 1979

Re-released in United States August 22, 2002

Re-released in United States March 21, 1986

Re-released in United States on Video September 16, 1997

Shown at WideScreen Film Festival in Los Angeles October 31 - November 16, 1997.

2002 re-release is a fully restored 70mm print.

Technirama 70

Re-released in United States 1970

Re-released in United States 1979

Released in United States 1997 (Shown at WideScreen Film Festival in Los Angeles October 31 - November 16, 1997.)

Released in United States Winter January 1959

Released in United States March 1980 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Epic: A Monumental Movie Marathon) March 4-21, 1980.)

Re-released in United States March 21, 1986

Re-released in United States August 22, 2002 (El Capitan; Los Angeles)

Re-released in United States on Video September 16, 1997