Disney’s gorgeous “Sleeping Beauty” is out in a magnificent new Diamond edition this week. This classic should be in the library of every family and every animation fan.
The King and Queen happily celebrate the birth of their daughter, Princess Aurora. The young Prince who is betrothed to the baby and three good fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, join the celebration. But wicked Maleficent, a bad fairy, is enraged when she is not included. She arrives at the party to cast a spell on the baby Princess. When she turns 16, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, and die.
The good fairies cannot remove the spell, but they change it from death to a deep sleep from which Aurora can be awakened only by love’s first kiss. The King and Queen try to protect the princess by sending her off with the good fairies to live in a tiny cottage in the woods until her sixteenth birthday is over. They cannot use their magic powers because it would lead Maleficent to the princess. Aurora (called Briar Rose) grows up. Out in the woods, she meets the Prince, and they fall in love, not knowing they are already engaged. But the fairies prepare for her birthday party and argue about whether the dress they are making for Aurora should be pink or blue, and cannot resist using their magic. Maleficent discovers where they are and is able to make Aurora prick her finger and fall into a deep sleep. Maleficent also captures the prince to make sure he cannot break the spell. After the fairies help him escape, Maleficent turns herself into a dragon to stop him. He kills the dragon and wakes Aurora with a kiss. At her birthday party, they dance, not even noticing that her dress turns from blue to pink as the fairies continue to argue about the color.
In this classic story, as in “Snow White,” a sleeping princess can only be awakened by a kiss from the prince. Psychiatrist Bruno Bettelheim and others have written extensively about the meaning of these stories, and the ways in which they symbolize the transition to adulthood and sexual awakening. Bettelheim’s theory was that such fairy tales begin to prepare children for developments they are not ready to assimilate consciously.
There is no reason to discuss this interpretation with children, of course. But it is worthwhile to talk with them about Maleficent, one of Disney’s most terrifying villains, and why her bitter jealousy makes her so obsessed with vengeance. Is that what she really wants? Isn’t she doing exactly the opposite of what is required to achieve her real goal, acceptance? Children also enjoy the little squabbles of the three good fairies, which may remind them of arguments with their siblings.
· Art of Evil: Generations Of Disney Villains – This legacy piece spotlights Disney’s favorite villain animator, Marc Davis and his infamous creations of characters such as Maleficent and Cruella. Throughout the piece, we will talk to modern day animators like Andreas Deja and also the new generation of Animators (Lino DiSalvo Animation Director of FROZEN) on how Marc’s designs and characters influenced what they do today.
· DisneyAnimation: ARTISTS IN MOTION (Extended Edition) – Join Walt Disney Animation Visual Development artist Brittney Lee as she goes through the process of creating a three dimensional sculpture of Maleficent, completely out of paper. In this extended edition, go deeper into Britney’s process
· Never Before Seen Deleted Scenes:
o The Fair (With Deleted Character – The Vulture) – In this version of the story, the fairies do not take the Princess to live with them in the forest. Convinced that King Stefan’s order to burn all the spinning wheels in the kingdom will not prevent Maleficent’s curse, the good fairies put a magic circle around the castle and cast a spell: “No evil thing that walks or flies or creeps or crawls can ever pass these castle walls.”
o The Curse is Fulfilled – The three good fairies have just returned Aurora to the castle and give her a crown. They leave the room to give Aurora some time alone…but Maleficent pays her a visit.
o Arrival Of Maleficent (Alternate Scene) – Maleficent arrives uninvited to the christening of the Princess Aurora.
· BEAUTY-OKE “Once Upon A Dream” – Sing along to this kinetic text video of Aurora’s signature song.
· Classic DVD Bonus Features Include:
o The Sound Of Beauty: Restoring A Classic – This featurette covers the creation of the 7.1 mix of the score of Sleeping Beauty that was done for Blu-ray, using the source tapes from the original recording sessions resulting in an audio experience of superior quality with greater detail and fidelity that you have ever heard before.
o Picture Perfect: The Making Of Sleeping Beauty – Discover the behind-the-scenes magic that transformed a beloved fairy tale into a cinematic work of art. Legendary Animators, actors and film historians reveal the secrets behind Disney’s masterpiece.
o Eyvind Earle: A Man And His Art – Early in his career, renowned American Artist Eyvind Earle worked as a background painter at the Walt Disney Studio. Walt Disney liked his work so much that he entrusted him with the assignment to be the Art Director for Sleeping Beauty. This was the first time that one artist was given the responsibility for the entire look on one of Disney’s animated features. This piece follows Earle’s development as an artist and his years at the Studio.
o Audio Commentary by John Lasseter, Andreas Deja and Leonard Maltin
I spoke to Mary Costa, who played the title role in the animated Disney classic “Sleeping Beauty,” about making the film and the new 50th anniversary DVD release. As Ms. Costa told me the story of her favorite scene, she recited it from memory and her voice became again exactly the voice of the young princess who has just met her one true love, the one she once danced with once upon a dream. You can get a glimpse of this scene and hear Mary Costa’s voice in the clip below from the DVD extras.
How were you cast in the role of Briar Rose/Princess Aurora?
I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and moved to California with my parents. I attended Glendale High School and appeared in the school operetta. I was invited to a dinner party with some people from the industry and people began singing. I sang “When I Fall in Love.” One of the other guests was Walter Shuman who said, “I’ve been looking for three years and I think you are it. Can you audition tomorrow morning?” The next day, I came to the studio and there was a booth with everyone I would be working with for the next three years. They asked me to sing and do a bird call. But I had a Southern accent. So they said, “Do you think you could talk with a British accent?” “Oh yes, I could!” [with a British accent]. My father and I loved to pretend we had British accents. The next day, the phone rang and everyone in my family raced to get it. It was Walt Disney and he said, “You have been hiding the Princess Aurora in Glendale!” I had the job.
Did Walt Disney advise you about the role?
He was involved in every single detail about the movie. He said this story was the most inspirational of all the fairy tales. And he told me, “I want you to know your character so well that you have memorized everything so you can drop all of those colors into your vocal palate and paint with your voice.” He said that in the forest scenes I should let the forest caress me.
Were you working mostly by yourself in a booth or interacting with the other performers?
I worked with the godmothers a couple of times and I worked with the prince, Bill Shirley. We all had our crushes on him! The woman who played Maleficent [Eleanor Audley, who also did the voice of the wicked stepmother in “Cinderella”] was a petite woman but she sounded like she was nine feet tall. Verna Felton, who played one of the godmothers, was so funny.
How does it look in its newly restored edition?
For the first time I really feel I have seen this movie. The depths of color and quality of sound with this technology! The people in the audience were oo-ing and ah-ing. You will be enveloped by the sound and see things you have never seen before.
Do you have a favorite scene?
I love every scene. But one I think is the essence of romance is when Princess Aurora and the Prince are in the forest and he asks her when he can see her again.
Prince Phillip: But when will I see you again?
Princess Aurora: Oh never, never!
Prince Phillip: Never?
Princess Aurora: Well, maybe someday.
Prince Phillip: When, tomorrow?
Princess Aurora: Oh no, this evening!
Prince Phillip: Where?
Princess Aurora: [calling back while running away] At the cottage… in the glen.
I love New York Times critic A.O. Scott’s review of this movie, my favorite romantic comedy of the year so far by far. Scott beautifully captures the charm of this lovely film.
As thin as an iPod Nano, as full of adolescent self-display as a Facebook page, “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist” strives to capture, in meticulous detail, what it’s like to be young right now….Norah’s wary, pouty manner and Nick’s odd mix of timidity and sarcasm are both strategies of self-protection.
I particularly admire this wonderfully evocative description of one of the key elements of the movie, as suggested by the title — the soundtrack, and how it complements and counterpoints the story and themes:
The tunes that play alongside their nocturnal adventure express longing, sadness, anxiety and joy with more intensity than they can muster themselves. Nick, played by the wet-noodle heartthrob Michael Cera (“Juno,” “Superbad”) and Norah (Kat Dennings, who has a hint of Kate Winslet’s soft, smart loveliness in her face) are, like so many kids these days, most comfortable with diffidence, understatement and a deadpan style of address that collapses the distinction between irony and sincerity.
Beliefnet bloggers speak out on Bill Maher’s new movie:
From Rabbi Brad Hirschfield of Windows and Doors:
[F]or starters, let’s stop giving Maher credit for attacking all religion. He doesn’t.
Instead, Maher selects the worst of religion and compares it to the best of secularism — hardly a fair fight. But he does make some very important points in this wickedly funny, if totally lopsided analysis of religion. And it’s the people who will be most offended by what he has to say that should listen the most. Why? Because religion shouldn’t get a free pass and it certainly hasn’t earned one.
Maher doesn’t have to go far, or look too hard, to find examples of truly frightening versions of religion, versions which are likely to get most of us killed. In fact, more people are dying today in the name of religion than any time since the crusades. And the more religious you are, the more that should bother you. It’s up to the faithful to clean up the mess that we have too often made of faith.
Over on Idol Chatter, in addition to my review, they have Paul O’Donnell:
If you’re going to see one movie that prowls the religious landscape, asking difficult questions and taking potshots at crackpots, see Bill Maher’s “Religulous.” Maher is no theologian, and even his grasp of international relations isn’t always firm, but this documentary, directed by Larry Charles, mixes the timing of a Chaplin short with the acidity of a stand-up act. In other words, you’ll laugh a lot. You’ll laugh despite yourself, no matter what you believe.
and Kris Rasmussen:
There is plenty to satirize about religion. There is plenty to debate about religion. But Maher spends time offending those believers of all faiths who are easily offended or fearful and never engages with believers who aren’t afraid of clever banter, witty one-liners, and cheap shots. Not only is there not much sport in that, but, come to find out, there’s really not much entertainment value in it, either…How much more interesting–maybe even funny–could the movie have been if Bill had really had the courage to go toe-to-toe with some of the more charismatic and intellectual religious minds around? But then maybe his pre-prepared zingers wouldn’t have seemed quite so clever. That doesn’t seem to be a risk Maher was willing to take.
I wondered what Steven Waldman would say about Maher’s quotes from the founding fathers about religion, since he wrote a superb and meticulously researched book on the subject.
In the beginning of the movie, he offers this quote from our second president, John Adams: “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.”
Wow. That certainly provides stunning support for Maher’s thesis. Did Adams really mean that? Well, no. Here’s the full quote from Adams, which came in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, April 19, 1817:
“Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, ‘this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.’!!! But in this exclamation I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly [two clergy from his childhood]. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite society, I mean hell.”
Slightly different meaning when you see the rest of the quote, eh? Sort of makes one wonder how scrupulous Maher was with the rest of the editing. Perhaps this is an anomaly.
Or perhaps not — Maher is a provocateur, not a scholar.