said it before, but it bears repeating.Whenever the Walt Disney studio releases
one of its animated classics in a newly restored video special edition, it constitutes an ‘event’.That is most certainly the case with the just-released 2-disc 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition
DVD of Walt Disney’s magnificent Sleeping Beauty.
the fairy tale of a princess who falls under the curse of an evil sorceress and experiences a sleep of living death unless
she be awakened by true love’s kiss, Sleeping Beauty was the final fairy
tale produced by Walt Disney himself.The film was released in 1959, but had
been in production since the early 1950s.It was six years in the making and
it cost six million dollars, which made it, at the time, one of the most expensive and ambitious of Walt Disney’s achievements.
the film as a moving tapestry.This may account for the medieval, and seemingly
simple, gothic and angular style of animation—which, in truth, is also highly sophisticated, decorative and contemporary.
Its spectacular multi-plane photography, has, at times, a flattened sense of
perspective, and the drawings veer from the cartoonish animation of Walt’s earlier films.But, make no mistake, the film is a masterwork of animation—each frame a masterpiece of composition
and artistry.It contains some of the highest quality traditional hand-drawn
animation ever, and lays claim to Disney’s stated goal of reaching the pinnacle of achievement in animation.
resembles other earlier Disney films— most notably Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
and Cinderella.Indeed, the voice
and characterization of the evil wizardress Maleficent comes from the same actress who created the unforgettable evil stepmother
in Cinderella.She is used to magnificent
effect in Sleeping Beauty.The musical
score is drawn from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet score—expertly
orchestrated and arranged for the film.Opera star Mary Costa provides the voice--
vocal and sung-- for Princess Aurora, the film’s title character.
has been available on DVD only once before— in 2003.That edition of the
film featured a restored print, and contained a widescreen and a full screen version of the film.As impressive as that release was and is, the colors on that disc seem like pastels compared to the rich
colors on the new edition. The restoration on the new disc also provides even greater clarity and detail.The film was shot in Technirama which provided for a 70mm presentation offering a viewing experience of
great impact.The new DVD edition marks the first time that the full
to 1 aspect ratio of the 70mm six-track stereo Technirama presentation has appeared on DVD.The musical score, recorded in Germany
to obtain the best possible recording, sounds clean, brilliant and powerful.
the set are numerous and include an excellently made brand-new documentary on the making of the film and a wonderful commentary
track by Disney experts John Lassiter, Leonard Maltin and Andreas Deja.Some
special features from the earlier disc are included here again, such as the Oscar-winning short, Grand Canyon, a presentation on Tchaikovsky and a feature about Disney artists.Among the numerous new special features is a never-before-seen alternate opening song for the film called
copy for this film that I saw was on a standard definition disc. The film is
also available in a BluRay edition and I can only imagine how spectacular it looks in that format.
When it was
released in 1959, Sleeping Beauty was one of the highest grossing films of the
year, second only to the blockbuster Ben-Hur, also released that year. It is a milestone in the history of animated film and it marks the end of an era.And like other Disney classics, the new Platinum Edition of Walt Disney’s spectacular Sleeping Beauty is another must-own DVD.