Top positive review
Beautiful Artistry and Animation
Reviewed in the United States on May 24, 2004
Sleeping Beauty is Disney's retelling of the fairy tale of the same name. This DVD release of Disney's 75 minute movie features options to view it in either the original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, or in a "pan and scan" 1.33:1 aspect ratio version that captures most of the action while using the full height of a standard television screen. A second DVD includes supplemental material on the history and making of the film.
The story itself departs somewhat from the traditional fairy tale version, with a story line that provides a little more scope for character exposition and interaction. The result still retains a fairy tale feel, and the plot remains simpler than most of Disney's other animated features.
The biggest strengths of the movie are in its wonderful animation, artwork, and music.
The animation is perhaps the best of any Disney movie. The animators were exceptionally good at using facial expressions to help tell the story - Maleficent's face perfectly expresses her smug satisfaction when something goes her way, and Princess Aurora's expression when she first meets Prince Phillip by surprise perfectly communicates the various emotions that are running through her. The animation of the action is also wonderful, with some of the best moments being Aurora's dancing and Phillip's battle with the dragon.
The background artwork is terrific. Each background is really a high quality painting, full of scene specific detail and yet all coordinating to give the picture overall artistic unity and medieval feel. And yet, all this beautiful background coordinates with the characters in a way that avoids overpowering them.
Unlike some of Disney's other animated classics, this film did not use original music, but instead wisely went with Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty ballet music. Tchaikovsky's beautiful classic music perfectly complements the beautiful, artistic nature of everything else in the film.
All the attention to artistry and detail made the film too expensive to be a commercial success in 1959, but it also made the film a timeless classic that can continue to be enjoyed today and far into the future. Get it now, or you may have to wait seven years for Disney's next rerelease.