After visiting Disneyland Paris last week, it was perfect timing for us to review the 10/7 Diamond Edition Release of Sleeping Beauty. We spent quite a bit of time exploring Sleeping Beauty Castle (Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant), from the Maleficent dragon beneath the castle to the story of Sleeping Beauty told in stained glass and tapestries in the tower. I haven’t seen the film in many years, which I am glad to have rectified – the story and animation have held up so well in the 55 years since it was first released.
The story about Princess Aurora is a very familiar one to most who will read this. After her birth, Princess Aurora is receiving blessings by fairies Flora, Fauna and Merryweather when the “mistress of all evil” Maleficent shows up. Maleficent is unhappy that she was not invited to the wedding, and sets a curse upon Princess Aurora that she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel before the sun sets on her 16th birthday – and die. Merryweather has not yet blessed Princess Aurora, and is able to modify the curse to a deep sleep, where Princess Aurora can only be awakened by True Love’s Kiss. While the story isn’t a nail biter, the journey to the end is vibrant at times and dark at others.
Even with the retelling of Maleficent in the 2014 film, this – to me – is the quintessential version of the villainess. There is nothing redeeming about her. Princess Aurora and the fairies bring the fun and light to Sleeping Beauty, and Maleficent brings in the darkness.
Sleeping Beauty is stunning to look at, and I really found myself in awe of the talent that could create such often realistic settings without a computer. From what I understand, this is the same master as the 2008 Sleeping Beauty Platinum Release (with less bonus features) – so if you have that version, you might not need this one. However, there were a couple of new bonus features we really enjoyed.
The Art of Evil: Generations of Disney Villains: By far my favorite extra on this disc. This bonus feature includes Lino DiSalvo and Andreas Deja talking about the making of Sleeping Beauty. Deja discusses legend Marc Davis (who animated Maleficent). I hadn’t realized that Davis was brought to the Studio to mostly animate animals, including Flower the skunk for Bambi. Marc’s wife Alice said that Walt also had him draw pretty girls, but Marc wanted to draw villains. Walt gave him Maleficent in part because she was also very beautiful. There are other villains and animators talked about in this bonus feature, including Deja’s Gaston (Beauty and the Beast) and DiSalvo’s Hans (Frozen). There are actually numerous references to Frozen in the bonus features. This bonus feature melds together new and old – in part a tribute to Marc Davis while talking about Disney’s newest film as well.
Deleted Scenes: These scenes are in storyboard format with new audio. It is worth the few minutes to watch!
Beauty-Oke: “Once Upon a Dream” – A tiny blip of a bonus feature.
Once Upon a Parade – I really didn’t understand the point of this bonus feature. I thought it would be a behind-the-scenes look at the Festival of Fantasy Parade, but it was Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland leading several kids in stories about how the parade could have come about. I found it a bit dull, I would have liked to have seen more parade (and designing of it). The feature definitely went into fantasy when it showed them getting a front-row spot at the last minute for the Festival of Fantasy Parade (it is a wonderful parade, get there early or secure Fastpass+!)
There are some nice classic bonus features as well, we haven’t finished them all but they focus on animation and the restoration of the film. It was nice seeing Frank Thomas, Marc Davis, Don Bluth, and many other animators featured throughout the bonus features!
We recommend the Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition, especially if you don’t have the previous incarnation from 2008.