Sleeping Beauty is a 1959 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney based
on The Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault. The 16th Disney animated feature film, it was released to theaters on January 29, 1959, by Buena Vista Distribution. This was the last Disney adaptation of a fairy tale for some years because of its initial box office underperformance at the box office; the studio did not return to the genre until 30 years later, after Walt Disney died in 1966, with the release of The Little Mermaid (1990).
It features the voices of Mary Costa, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Barbara Luddy, Barbara Jo Allen, Bill Shirley, Taylor Holmes, and Bill Thompson.
The film was directed by Les Clark, Eric Larson, and Wolfgang Reitherman, under the supervision of Clyde Geronimi, with additional story work by Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright, and Milt Banta. The film's musical score and songs, featuring the work of the Graunke Symphony Orchestra under the direction of George Bruns, are arrangements or adaptations of numbers from the 1890 Sleeping Beauty ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. However, unlike the previous feature-films, this was the first Disney feature-film that did not have the same background animation material, but instead with new background animation material.
Sleeping Beauty was the first animated film to be photographed in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process, as well as the second full-length animated feature film to be filmed in anamorphic widescreen, following Disney's own Lady and the Tramp four years earlier. The film was presented in Super Technirama 70 and 6-channel stereophonic sound in first-run engagements.
After many childless years, King Stefan and Queen Leah happily welcome the birth of their daughter, the Princess Aurora. They proclaim a holiday for their subjects to pay homage to the princess, and at the gathering for her christening she is betrothed to Prince Phillip, the young son of Stefan's friend King Hubert, so that their kingdoms will always be united.
Among the guests are three fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, who have come to bless the child with gifts. Flora and Fauna give their gifts of beauty and song, respectively. Before Merryweather is able to give her blessing, the evil fairy Maleficent appears, only to be told that she was not invited. Maleficent turns to leave, but when Queen Leah asks if she's offended, the evil fairy curses the princess, proclaiming that Aurora will grow in grace and beauty, but before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will use her finger to touch the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. King Stefan and Queen Leah are horrified and beg the fairies to break the curse. Unfortunately, they are not strong enough to break it, but Merryweather uses her blessing to soften the curse so that instead of dying, Aurora will fall into a deep sleep from which she can only be awakened by true love's kiss. King Stefan, still fearful for his daughter's life, orders all spinning wheels in the kingdom to be burned. The fairies do not believe that will be enough to keep Aurora safe, and so they spirit her away to a woodcutter's cottage in the forest until the day of her sixteenth birthday.
Years later, Aurora, renamed Briar Rose, has grown into a beautiful young woman. On the day of her sixteenth birthday, the three fairies ask Rose to gather berries in the forest so they can prepare a surprise party for her. Briar Rose befriends the animals of the forest and sings them a song, Once Upon a Dream. While singing in the forest, Briar Rose attracts the attention of Prince Phillip, now a handsome young man. He races to find the owner of the beautiful voice and is instantly struck by Rose's grace and beauty. Briar Rose at first is frightened at his sudden appearance, as she is not allowed to talk to strangers, but Philip soon puts her at ease. They instantly fall in love, unaware of being promised in marriage sixteen years ago. Briar Rose asks Phillip to come to her cottage that evening and meet her family.
Meanwhile, Flora and Merryweather argue over the color of Aurora's ballgown, which attracts the attention of Maleficent's raven and revealing the location of Aurora. Back at home, Briar Rose is thrilled to tell her guardians she met a man and fell in love. The fairies finally tell Aurora the truth about her royalty heritage, that she is a princess and already betrothed at birth to a prince, and tell her she must never see the man she met again. Heartbroken, she leaves the room. Meanwhile, Phillip tells his father of a peasant girl he met and wishes to marry in spite of his prearranged marriage to Princess Aurora. King Hubert fails to convince him otherwise, leaving Hubert in equal disappointment.
Later that night, the fairies take Aurora back to the castle and leave her alone in a room to wait for her birthday celebrations where she will finally get to see her parents. Maleficent then appears and magically lures Aurora away from the fairies and tricks the princess into touching an enchanted spinning wheel. Aurora pricks her finger, completing the curse. The good fairies place Aurora on a bed in the highest tower and place a powerful spell on all the people in the kingdom, causing them to fall asleep until the spell on their princess is broken. While doing so, they overhear a conversation between King Stefan and King Hubert. From King Hubert's conversation with King Stefan, the fairies realize that Prince Phillip is the man with whom Aurora has fallen in love. They rush to find him, but he is kidnapped by Maleficent who is waiting for him at the cottage in the woods. She shows Phillip the peasant girl he fell in love with is the now-sleeping princess. She tells him she plans to keep him locked away until he's an old man on the verge of death, then release him to meet his love, who will not have aged a single day.
The fairies find and release the prince, arming him with the magical Sword of Truth and the Shield of Virtue. Maleficent tries to stop Phillip by surrounding Aurora's castle with thorns, but fails. She then transforms into a gigantic dragon. Eventually, Phillip throws the sword, blessed by the fairies' magic, directly into Maleficent's heart, causing her to fall to her death.
Phillip awakens Aurora with a kiss, breaking the spell and thereby wakes everyone in the palace. The royal couple descends to the ballroom, where Aurora is happily reunited with her parents, while King Hubert is confused of how the two young royals met. Flora and Merryweather resume their argument over the color of Aurora's ball gown, magically changing it from blue to pink while the happy couple waltzes. The last color to appear is pink. Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip live happily ever after.
|Role||Voice actor||Performance model|
|Princess Aurora||Mary Costa||Helene Stanley|
|Prince Phillip||Bill Shirley||Ed Kemmer|
|Fairies (Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather)||Verna Felton|
Barbara Jo Allen
|King Stefan||Taylor Holmes||
|Queen Leah||Verna Felton|
|King Hubert||Bill Thompson|
- Marc Davis - (Princess Aurora, Maleficent)
- Milt Kahl - (Prince Phillip)
- Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston - (The Three Good Fairies: Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather)
- John Lounsbery - (King Hubert, King Stefan)
Eric Larson did not animate any of the characters for the film; instead, he directed the entire "Forest" sequence which stretches from Briar Rose (a.k.a. Aurora) wandering through the forest with her animal friends all the way to Princess Aurora renamed Briar Rose running back home, promising Phillip they will meet again later in the evening. This was the only time Larson directed a sequence or a film during his tenure at Walt Disney Productions.