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Sleeping Beauty
Disney Movies; DMA; Disney Wiki; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TCM; TV Tropes; Wikipedia

Caution: spoilers!

This came out in 1959 (sixteen years before I was born). I must have seen at least a bit of it when I was a kid in the 80s (probably on Wonderful World of Disney specials for like Halloween and maybe Valentine's Day), but I'm pretty sure I never saw the whole movie until 2016. (So it's one of the few classic Disney movies that I can't really feel nostalgic about.) Anyway... in 2014, a live-action movie called Maleficent was released. And, like many Disney movies, Sleeping Beauty spends most of its time in the Disney Vault, to be released every decade or so. And it was released on DVD the same year as Maleficent, though I didn't get it until more than a year later. I wasn't sure exactly when I'd watch it, but on January 29 I happened to see something on facebook about it being the anniversary of the movie's original theatrical release. So, I watched it the next day (Saturday, which is when I usually watch animated stuff). And... um... I enjoyed it more than I expected. (I mean, I was expecting to like it, but not to love it.)

So... it begins with a storybook and a narrator setting up the plot. There's a king named Stefan, and a queen who isn't actually named in the movie, for some reason. They had wanted a child for some time, and finally they have a daughter, whom they name Aurora. The whole kingdom celebrates her birth... except for a witch named Maleficent, who wasn't invited. But of course she shows up anyway, and places a curse on the baby. Before sunset on her 16th birthday, Aurora will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, and die. But there were three fairies present at the celebration: Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. Before Maleficent showed up, the first two fairies had bestowed gifts on the baby. (One was to be beautiful, another I guess to be a good singer. Which seem like lame gifts, because both those things probably would have happened even without magic, anyway.) But Maleficent showed up before Merryweather could bestow her gift. So after the witch leaves, the last fairy amends her gift (I have no idea what it would have been), so that instead of dying when she pricks her finger, Aurora would simply fall asleep, to be awakened by True Love's Kiss. (This isn't the first Disney movie to use that trope, but I think it's the first to actually call it that. And it's something that would become a hallmark of Disney forever after, influencing various things such as Enchanted and Once Upon a Time.) Oh, btw, I should also mention that before all this happened, we learned that King Stefan's best friend was another king named Hubert, who has a young son named Philip, who was betrothed to Aurora as soon as she was born.

Well, in spite of Merryweather's gift, they all still hoped to avoid Maleficent's curse altogether. So Stefan had all the spinning wheels in the kingdom burned. And the three fairies disguised themselves as peasant women, and raised Aurora themselves, in a cottage in the woods. They called her Briar Rose, and kept her from ever meeting anyone else. And they never told her that she was actually a princess. The movie flashes forward to her 16th birthday, and Maleficent had had lackeys out looking for Aurora all these years, but they never found her. Finally, she sends her pet raven out to look for Aurora. Meanwhile, Rose's "aunts" send her out to pick berries while they prepare for her surprise birthday party. While she's out, she naturally interacts with some woodland animals (who don't speak, but are intelligent in the way Disney animals generally are). And she sings about a prince she met "Once Upon a Dream." Coincidentally, Prince Philip (now a young man) hears her singing, and meets her. I guess the two of them fall in love (though it always requires a suspension of disbelief when this kind of thing happens, since I don't belief in love at first sight). Anyway, he wants to see her again, and she tells him to meet her at the cottage that night.

When she gets home, her aunts finally tell her the truth... including the fact that she's betrothed to Philip. This news devastates her, because she wants to marry literally the first random guy she ever met and never even had a proper conversation with. Who, of course, she has no idea was Prince Philip. Anyway, the fairies take her to the castle, but meanwhile, the raven has discovered them, and reports back to Maleficent. And before they arrive at the castle, Philip shows up and tells his father that he doesn't want to marry Aurora, but rather this random peasant girl he just met. Which, naturally, upsets Hubert. But before Aurora can be presented to anyone, Maleficent shows up and lures her away, and causes her to prick her finger. The fairies decide no one in the kingdom should have to learn this distressing news, so they put them all to sleep. (Which for all they knew could have lasted forever, but ends up not lasting long at all.) They soon learn that the person Rose had fallen in love with was Philip, but of course Maleficent kidnaps him, so they have to go rescue him, so that he can wake Aurora up. (Gosh, it's a lucky thing they'd met before the curse took effect, otherwise there could be no True Love's Kiss. Unless, you know, he fell in love with a sleeping girl he'd never even seen, let alone talked to, which wouldn't be unprecedented in fairy tales or Disney classics, but whatevs.)

Well... of course Aurora (and everyone else) finally wakes up, and there's a happy ending as the two youngsters realize the one they each love is the one they were betrothed to, after all. And... as usual, I feel like I've said too much and like I'm probably forgetting things I wanted to say. (Though I have left a bit out... Okay, Philip has to fight a dragon. There, now I've said nearly everything.) But the one thing I most wanted to say was that there are some things in this movie that I found hilarious. And not even unintentionally hilarious; things that were obviously meant to be funny. So... part of the reason I wound up (kind of) loving the movie is how important it is in terms of the influence it's had, but also partly because I really enjoyed the humor. (Mainly that comes from the fairies, but my favorite line is actually one of Philip's... "Now, Father, you're living in the past. This is the fourteenth century! Nowadays....") And... yeah, I guess that's all I have to say. But it was a fun movie, and I'm really glad I've finally seen it.


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