Monday, July 1, 2013

Movie Review: Sleeping Beauty

Title: Sleeping Beauty
Author: Disney (animated)
Genre: Children's, Fairy Tale, Animated films
My Rating: ****
Official Rating: G
Age Group: 8+

My Summary -
When King Stephan and Queen Leah finally announce the birth of their daughter, Aurora, the kingdom is ecstatic. A royal feast is prepared, and all the most important people are invited (including Aurora's betrothed, seven-year-old Philip). Included on the guest list are the fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather, who all decide to give Aurora a special fairy-gift. But before they have time to cast their spells, an unexpected guest crashes the party.
Malificent is utterly evil, and utterly angry at being ignored by the king and queen. In a rage, she too casts a spell on Aurora: on her sixteenth birthday, the girl will prick her finger on a spindle and die.
Horrified, the royal couple look to the three good fairies to fix the situation, so they spirit the little baby away into the woods, where for sixteen years she lives, hidden from all society.
Until she meets a young man.

The Bad:
This movie is really early Disney, so there's nothing "bad", per se. A few things deserve caution for younger children, however.
Malificent is by far the most scary Disney villain; she doesn't have an ounce of goodness in her, and the scenes with her in them are dark and menacing. While there is little violence (Philip pushes around her evil minions, as does Malificent, and the Prince throws a sword into her at the end), she is completely creepy.
We see three men drinking champagne and fall into various stages of cartoon drunkenness (one even falls asleep).
The three fairies bicker with each other over silly things.
Aurora is extremely innocent, as is Philip. They literally fall in love at first sight, and after five minutes are ready to marry each other. Philip's advances are not bad in any way, but could be taken so by a modern audience (the movie was made over fifty years ago, and I think we tend to read more into certain situations than people back then). Their relationship is more ill-advised than anything.
Philip kisses Aurora while she is asleep.

The Good:
This is a real, Chestertonian, Tolkienian fairy tale that was not ruined by any attempt to make it more interesting or realistic. In fact, its charm lies in the fact that the characters ARE unrealistic, idealistic, and completely good (except for Malificent, who is said to be completely evil). It's a traditional battle of good and evil, with the Shield of Virtue and the Sword of Truth helping Philip to defeat the dragon (yes, he literally has a Sword of Truth).

My Thoughts:
From a film critic's point of view, this movie is a complete flop according to today's standards. The characters have no depth, there's random and drawn-out music sequences, and the plot is full of holes (the animation was very impressive, however).
But somehow, this movie has become a classic - it basically IS the epitome of Disney fairy tales.Very few Disney fairy tales directly address the fight of complete good against complete evil, and for some reason, the fact that this one did makes it more endearing than the rest.
I like Disney movies (the old ones, anyway), but I never actually saw this one until last night, and it instantly became my favorite. Maybe I'm an idealistic sap, but this is one good story.

I do advise parents that this movie probably isn't appropriate for anyone under the age of 8 just because of Malificent (quite honestly, I was rather afraid of her myself).

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