This year marks the 55th anniversary of the release of Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.” Disney Home Entertainment has marked the anniversary with a Diamond Edition Blu-ray combo pack. The Diamond Edition features the remastered picture and sound from the 2008 50th anniversary Platinum Edition plus some new bonus material. The Diamond Edition includes a Blu-ray disc, a DVD disc, plus a digital copy. “Sleeping Beauty” is a must have for any home video library.
Disney’s version of “Sleeping Beauty” is based on the fairy tale “La Belle au Bois Dormant” (“The Beauty Sleeping in the Wood”) by Charles Perrault, and “Little Briar Rose” collected and written down by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Perrault’s version is based on “Sun, Moon, and Talia” by Giambattista Basile from 1634. Battista’s tale has its origins in earlier fairy stories such as the tale of “Perceforest,” which has connections to the Arthurian cycle. The Sleeping Beauty fairy story is also related to the story of Brünnhilde from the Norse sagas.
In the Disney version of the story is the most “fairy” fairy story of all of the Disney fairy tale movies. “Sleeping Beauty” tells the story of the Princess Aurora, whose parents, King Stefan and Queen Leah, hold a big party for her christening, and invite the fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather as guests of honor. At the celebration, little Aurora is betrothed to Prince Phillip, the son of Stefan’s friend King Hubert.
The first two fairies bless the little princess with gifts, but before Merryweather can give her gift, the evil fairy Maleficent arrives, furious that she wasn’t invited to the celebration. As her “gift,” she curses the princess to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die on her 16th birthday. After Maleficent departs, Merryweather gives her gift, amending the curse so that Aurora won’t die, but, rather, will fall into an enchanted sleep that can only be broken by true love’s kiss. King Stefan sends Aurora into hiding to be raised and protected by the fairies until the danger of the curse has ended.
The second act takes place on the day of Aurora’s (now renamed Briar Rose) 16th birthday, when she’s to be told her true identity, and returned home to her parents. But the care taken to keep her safe comes to naught as events conspire to place Briar Rose in danger. She meets and falls in love with a handsome young stranger (who, unbeknownst to her, is Prince Phillip) and is devastated when told that she’s already betrothed to a prince, and can’t marry her true love. The fairies also recklessly use magic to make their goddaughter’s gown for her birthday ball. All of this leads to Maleficent discovering the princess’s whereabouts, and gives her the opportunity to bring about her curse. The fairy godmothers must use their magic to help Prince Phillip rescue the princess from the death-like sleep.
The beautiful songs and musical score for Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” were based on Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1889 composition for the ballet “The Sleeping Beauty,” which was based on Charles Perrault’s version of the fairy tale.
“Sleeping Beauty” took almost a decade to complete, and its beautiful artwork makes it the last masterpiece of the classic Disney era, and the last Disney Princess movie for thirty years. Today, the vast majority of animated films are computer generated. These CGI features can’t begin to compare to the beauty of traditional hand drawn animation used for classic movies like “Sleeping Beauty.” These home video releases are important for young people to be able to enjoy for the first time, and for adults to re-watch over and over again.
The new Diamond Edition has a lot less bonus material than the old 2008 Platinum Edition, but it is more budget friendly at $19.99 on Amazon.com as compared to $29.99 for the Platinum Edition. The Diamond Edition features new bonus material, including three new deleted scenes, never seen before: “The Curse is Fulfilled,” “The Arrival of Maleficent: Alternate Scene,” and “The Fair.” These are presented as original storyboards, newly recorded voice work, and narration.
The other new bonus material includes: “The Art of Evil: Generations of Disney Villains,” “Disney Animation: Artists in Motion,” “Once Upon a Parade,” and “Beauty-Oke: Once Upon a Dream.” The combo pack also includes some previously released bonus features.
Verdict: Buy, but those who have the 50th anniversary Platinum Edition should keep it for the extra bonus materials.