The motivations of Maleficent, the villainess in the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty, always struck me as a tad exaggerated.
Does Maleficent really curse Princess Aurora to die (actually, just go into a never-ending sleep from which only true love’s kiss will wake/save her) because she didn’t get an invite to the baby’s big unveiling/party/sorta-baptism in King Stefan’s castle? That’s what I believed as a kid when I first watched it, and I kind of couldn’t get it out of my head watching it last week, in the crisp and gorgeous Blu-Ray edition of the film, out Oct. 7.
This Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition set comes exactly six years after Disney released a Platinum Edition of the 1959 film. If you own that one, there may not be much for you here – but the movie’s never looked better. Ever. And I doubt it could ever be topped or improved. The restoration is, simply, beautiful.
We all know Sleeping Beauty: Princess Aurora is cursed by Maleficent that on her 16th birthday, she’ll prick her finger on a spindle and go into a deep sleep.
Younger Disney fans may have gotten their first taste of the Maleficent/Aurora story in Disney’s live-action villainess origin story Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning. The production design, costumes, makeup and art in that film were eye-popping. Jolie, undoubtedly, had the cheekbones to play Maleficent, but the film just did not do it for me. It was CGI-heavy, often at the cost of the story. I do appreciate the twist the live-action version did on the ending. What struck me most in the animated Sleeping Beauty is how heroic Prince Phillip is made to seem, even though he barely does anything, and barely speaks. The fairies – Flora, Fauna and Merryweather – do most of the heavy lifting here.
Among the special features on the Diamond Edition set is a short documentary on the storied Disney villains, a staple of these animated films. The doc features new and archival interviews with the animators from Frozen, The Lion King and Aladdin. The set also has a deleted and alternate scene, which animation geeks will get a kick out of.
If animation is your jam, though, this Sleeping Beauty set is a no-brainer; the film has always been one of the most lushly and gorgeously animated Disney film, and this version is totally mind-blowing.