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Sleeping Beauty is a 1959 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by Buena Vista Distribution. Based on Charles Perrault's 1697 fairy tale of the same title, it is the 16th Disney animated feature film. The production was supervised by Clyde Geronimi, and the film's sequences were directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, Eric Larson, and Les Clark. Featuring the voices of Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Barbara Luddy, Barbara Jo Allen, Taylor Holmes, and Bill Thompson, the film's plot follows a young princess Aurora, who was cursed by the evil fairy Maleficent to die from a prick on a spindle of the spinning wheel, but was saved by the three good fairies, who altered the curse so that the princess instead fell into a deep sleep to be awakened by true love's kiss.
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Walt Disney first considered making an animated adaptation of Charles Perrault's fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" in 1938. Preliminary artwork was submitted by Joe Grant, but the project did not move forward. In November 1950, Disney officially announced that he was developing Sleeping Beauty as an animated feature film, although the production title was registered months earlier, on January 19, 1950, due to a preview audience's positive reaction to Cinderella (1950). Disney envisioned Sleeping Beauty as his masterpiece and the ultimate in animated filmmaking, and was willing to pour all the necessary resources to achieve that. He also realized the difficulty of producing another fairy tale feature that would not be too derivative of his previous films, particularly, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Cinderella (1950), and over the course of the film's production kept reiterating to his staff that it had to be different.
In June 1952, the full storyboard presentation was completed, but Disney rejected it, concluding that this story approach was too similar to the studio's earlier films. Because of this, the story team threw out the original version and worked from scratch while deciding to retain several story points from earlier suggestions. These included the prince's acquaintance with the princess before the curse is fulfilled, and, consequently, a shorter duration of her sleep, which lasted a hundred years in the original fairy tale. Initially, the story artists worked out an elaborate sequence in which the characters would have met during a treasure hunt, but it was eventually abandoned when it became too drawn out and drifted from the central storyline. Instead, it was written that prince and princess would meet in the forest by random chance, which had previously been introduced in the 1951 outline.
While the layout artists and animators were impressed with Earle's paintings, they also grew depressed at working with a style that many of them regarded as too cold, flat, and modernist for a fairy tale feature. Animators in particular struggled to make their characters, who also had to be stylized to match Earle's style, stand out against his busy and detailed background paintings, with the overall design and color styling having an inhibiting effect on character animation. Frank Thomas complained about this to Ken Peterson, head of the animation department, to which the latter responded by citing Disney's instructions. At one point, a group of animators, including Thomas and Milt Kahl, rebelled and went to Disney's office to complain. Nevertheless, Disney insisted on the visual design, claiming that the inspirational art he had commissioned in the past, such as Mary Blair's, had always been homogenized by the animators. Earle's design also prompted Disney to film Sleeping Beauty in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process, which caused further difficulties for animators and layout artists who had to work with very large sheets of paper and, therefore, create twice as much art as before to fill the frame.
Bosley Crowther, writing in his review for The New York Times, complimented that "the colors are rich, the sounds are luscious and magic sparkles spurt charmingly from wands", but criticized its similarity with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He further wrote that "the princess looks so much like Snow White they could be a couple of Miss Rheingolds separated by three or four years. And she has the same magical rapport with the little creatures of the woods. The witch is the same slant-eyed Circe who worked her evil on Snow White. And the three good fairies could be maiden sisters of the misogynistic seven dwarfs." A review in Time magazine harshly wrote that "Even the drawing in Sleeping Beauty is crude: a compromise between sentimental, crayon-book childishness and the sort of cute, commercial cubism that tries to seem daring but is really just square. The hero and heroine are sugar sculpture, and the witch looks like a clumsy tracing from a Charles Addams cartoon. The plot often seems to owe less to the tradition of the fairy tale than to the formula of the monster movie. In the final reel it is not a mere old-fashioned witch the hero has to kill, but the very latest model of The Thing from 40,000 Fathoms." Harrison's Reports wrote: "It is doubtful, however, if adults will find as much satisfaction in Sleeping Beauty as they did in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with which this latest effort will be assuredly compared because both stories are in many respects similar. While Beauty is unquestionably superior from the viewpoint of the art of animation, it lacks comedy characters that can be compared favorably with the unforgettable Seven Dwarfs."
Among more favorable reviews, Variety praised the singing voices of Mary Costa and Bill Shirley and noted that "some of the best parts of the picture are those dealing with the three good fairies, spoken and sung by Verna Felton, Barbara Jo Allen and Barbara Luddy." Kate Cameron, reviewing for The New York Daily News, described the film as "enchanting" and as a "picture that will charm the young and tickle adults, since the old fairy tale has been transferred to the screen by a Disney who kept his tongue in his cheek throughout the film's animation." 041b061a72