Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: Sleeping Beauty

Walt Disney Animation Studios 16th feature film.


My opinion right after watching movie

Well if anyone knows me, they know that I do not like this movie. Watching it a year later, and……….that still stands. I think it is extremely boring, and the pacing can be extremely choppy to extremely slow. While the animation is beautiful and the scores are nice, it is hard for me to care for anything in this movie and the characters are not that interesting. Some are good, and the animation and the songs move it along. Ehh.


So production for this film started in 1951, after the massive success of Cinderella. The story was written in 1951, the voices were recorded in 1952, and the animation was from 1953-1958 (they probably upped their budget from the successes of Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp). Disney wanted this film to have a more stylized, detailed look to it compared to its predecessors.

He wanted the three fairies to be identical in looks, but Ollie Johnson and Frank Thompson told him that they would not be exciting, so they gave them different personalities, colors, and looks. When making Maleficent, they were afraid she would look too much like The Queen or Lady Tremaine, so they made her look more elegant.

Like most of the films in this era, all of the film was recorded in live action, so they could use it for inspiration on the animation. This film had a good amount of ideas in it that were dropped from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella.

This is the final film in the canon to use cell-animation, as it became too expensive to make a film with, risking losing money, and the films afterwards would be strictly animated via Xerox. This is also the first film to ever use the Xerox process as well (it is used minorly for the Dragon). Many see this as the final film in the Silver Era because of it.


So we start the film with a storybook opening, explaining King Stefan (Taylor Holmes) and his Queen’s struggle to have a child, and finally gets blessed when Aurora (Mary Costa) is born. So they celebrate her christening, and invites everyone but Maleficent (Eleanor Audley). Flora (Verna Felton) and Fauna (Barbara Jo Allen) gives the child a gift of beauty and song, and when Merrywether (Barbara Luddy) is about to give Aurora her gift, but Maleficent shows up and curses Aurora to die on her 16th birthday.

You bitch.

So she makes a grand entrance, and Merrywether changes the spell, so she will be put in a deep sheep, and awakened by true love’s kiss. So far, great introduction. King Stefan burns all of the spindles in the kingdom, but the fairies meet up to find a way to get rid of Aurora. They know that she is always a step ahead of them and finds them predictable, so they decide to hide and raise Aurora int he forest like regular humans.

So 16 years pass, and Maleficent is stressing that they have not found Aurora. Her minions reveal that they have been looking for a baby the entire time, and she loses it out of incompetence.

Okay, let me get you together real quickly Maleficent. I understand that your minions are incompetent, but you should have been ON IT and MADE SURE they knew exactly what to look for. How in the hell could you ignore this for 16 years? And even THEN, you should have went out and look for yourself at times. You clearly lack control, and have been a bit careless with the entire thing. You are telling me the “baddest bitch” could not use her magic or looked for her herself, but spent all her time on incompetent minions doing the jobs; girl bye.

So we are introduced to the 16 year old Aurora, and I will say it right now; she is the blandest princess to ever surface Disney. The fairies send her off to look berries, so they can plan a surprise for her birthday. Aurora does so, and she is singing about her need for love and how she is lonely via I Wonder. The animals join her as she explains about how she met someone in her dreams, which leads to Once Upon A Dream. Phillip (Bill Shirley) happens to hear her voice, and follows it. He starts dancing with her, and they soon fall in love. She tells him indecisively that she will never see him again, but to only invite him to her house, which I have to admit is smart.

So she runs and tells her aunts about Phillip, and him coming over, but they drop the bomb. They tell her that she is a princess and is returning to her parents where she can marry Phillip. She starts to cry, but it seems more so because she cannot see Phillip than her entire life being a lie.

Then we spend a bunch of unnecessary time with the fillers of the Kings singing scrubs and fooling around. They get into a minor argument for no reason, and then the plot returns with Phillip telling his father his final lines; being that he is marrying the peasant girl he met, and for his father to become more modern.

So the ladies return to the castle, and Aurora is still an emotional mess, so they leave her for a moment, which is the perfect time for Maleficent to get her (thanks to her parrot). Aurora is hypnotized, and the fairies try to rush to her in time, but it is too late; she pricked her finger on the spinning wheel.

So the fairies decide to put a sleeping spell on her entire kingdom (I do not know why though), but they overhear King Hubert say something about Phillip meeting with a peasant girl, and they connect one with one. They rush to the palace to only find that Phillip is gone. This is because Maleficent and her crew ambushed him at their cottage. How did Maleficent know he would be there? Guess…… We do not know.

Something about…….this always disturbed me. The way she looks at him when he is tied up, and then when he is trying to get out of his chainlocks……. it was just unsettling. What would she do with him there for 100 years? This look says alone. She is…… kind of lonely….. And she says she has plans for her royal guest. It is very suspicious to me. Does anyone know what I am getting at here?

So the sexually frustrated woman mistress of evil whisks him to his dungeon, leaving his hat. When the fairies finally get there, they realize that she already took him. The fairies quickly go to her castle and go through some scary imagery. Maleficent pays her toy  guest a visit to tease and taunt him. After she leaves, the fairies sneak him out and explains everything to him; with him not muttering a word (some contractual mess him and Aurora’s actress had that caused them to not be able to record the rest of their lines).

So we reach to the part that was supposed to be in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. We are at the epic battle, where Phillip whisks through many trials and tribulations, an epic battle with the mighty evil, and then kills her, and runs to kiss his treasure; but he needs help from the fairies and by help I mean they do almost all of the work.

So the sleeping curse is lifted off of her and the entire kingdom, she reunites with her family, and the third human couple dance Once Upon A Dream.

This film is not bad, but really boring. There are some things that are left unexplained, choppy scenes that are too short or too long, and filler that no one will give a fuck about. Some scenes are nice, and some characters are nice too. Overall, it works, but it just drags and is too hard to invest into for me.


The characters that I moderately care about in this film are a minimal. I feel like I barely know them and I can only invest myself into the fairies. Some of them are boring, others are annoying.

Aurora is the blandest princess to me. So from what I have seen, she cried because she cannot be with Phillip, she is lonely is she wants romance, and she is classy. She is my least favorite because she never has a positive and a negative thought or saying. We don’t see how she handles situations, and she is not as deep as the others.
He is a huge improvement over the other 2 Disney princes. He is charismatic, determined, charming, and a bit goofy, but….he is still not interesting, and comes of more as a prop than a character. The fairies use him as a prop in the final battle.
I think my statement of her losing it on her minions cover the most of it. She has a great presence, a great charisma, determination, and just LOVES being evil, but that issue with the minions set her back. So sorry 98% of the Disney fandom; I do not think she is the best (or even the top 5) villains.
The fairies are likable, and they are somewhat the protagonists. They work really well together, and they really bring a lot to feminism. Flora is bossy, controlling, but determined, Fauna is sweet and naive, and Merrywether is the tough, rebellious, and less traditional one.
The Kings are really annoying.


The animation in the film is beautiful. I have never seen so much style and detail in a film, and there is so much in the backgrounds. For the most part, the humans look more realistic and they have sharper lines. While the hair color and eye color changes in Aurora, it is perfect. The movements are good, and you can tell that everything in the animation has purpose.


The only memorable songs in this film are Once Upon a Dream and I Wonder. The others are very forgettable, and I barely remember anything about them. The score is nice and has that medieval theme, but it gets old soon enough because there is almost NEVER a time where there is no music. In most other films, there are breaks.

Reception at Release

When the film was released on January 29th, 1959, it made a lot of money, approximately $7.7 million dollars. The issue is, the production was so high (costing $6 million), that they barely made any money off of the film. It was the first box office disappointment since Alice in Wonderland. It also received mixed reviews, with some of the critics calling it out for its low pace and no character development.

The underperformance, coupled with the year 1959 not being that profitable for the company, it caused Disney to lose interest in animation and to put less effort into it, massive layoffs took place come 1960, and they switched to Xerography. They were back to lower budget films, and doing everything to save money with making cheaper films with bigger revenue coming in. It was never rereleased in Disney’s lifetime and became a big success in the 70s.

Reception Today

Well, now it is seen as an artistic masterpiece. It’s many re-releases in the later decades caused it to be the 2nd highest grossing film of 1959. I also forgot to mention that Sleeping Beauty‘s castle is in Disneyland. The film is studied in by schools for animation, included in many AFI lists, and it seen as Walt Disney’s final masterpiece.

Final Score

Story: 6.5/10


Animation: 9/10

Music: 8/10=

29.5/40 =74%

Next Time…

Review: April 7th, 2014

21 thoughts on “Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: Sleeping Beauty

      1. You still underrated the Animation and the Music though (there is a reason it never stops, they bascially put the ballet on Screen). But at least you didn’t claim that the animation is “too dark”, “boring”, or (the most ridiculous claim of all) “bland”.

  1. Oh, and btw: The fairies put the kingdom to sleep so that they can cover up their own failure until Aurora wakes up (which is certainly a very questionable action) and Maleficent knows where Phillip would be because the raven overheard Aurora saying that her one love would visit the cottage…she had no idea that she would capture the prince, though, she expected some peasant boy.

  2. I still find it disappointing that you don’t like this film that much. I still love this one, and was never bored by it, not annoyed by the kings. I agree that their scenes are a bit unneeded, but I at least get a laugh. I also still consider Maleficent to be a fantastic villain because she delivers such menace and actually leaves an impression on
    people. I also really like the fairies and their individual personalities, and I don’t mind the constant background music.
    So, I still love this movie, but I understand why you don’t.

    1. Well; what can you do. I just cannot get that invested or engaged in this film. My thing is this; a person can have charisma, but that does not mean their plan and how they handled things were the best. I still respect your opinion though, and I kind of see why people like the film. I need something that is….better paced.

      1. Thank you for not being an ass like Confused Matthew. He would’ve been the opposite of you. (Have you seen his “Minority Report” review? He called Roger Ebert an idiot for liking that film!)

  3. Jayden-G…I really miss your presence on Fanpop…Fanpop is becoming so juvenile lately with the flood of thirteen year old girls from the success of Frozen and the exit/not-as-active-anymore of the greats that Fanpop just isn’t as enjoyable anymore..Do you have any plans in the future of making another account?

    1. Hey dclairmont, I have missed you and some others as well. Even the past few months before I was banned, I saw how juvenile things were becoming. Swanpride told me yesterday that it is getting worse and worse over there.

      Who left since I did? I honestly don’t miss it as much as I thought it would, and tried making another account as soon as I was banned, but it got blocked. I MIGHT make another one a year from now. So crazy Frozen stand are ruining the club?

      1. I can’t remember how much you’ve missed, but Mongoose and Safira have left among others. Disneygirl7 and prussiaducky doesn’t visit anymore either. The club isn’t too bad at the moment..dimitri_ and MalloMar are still active, AudreyFreak and rhythmicmagic come on more often, and MacytheStrange and Silverrose1991 still post great things, among others, it’s just that there are a bunch of new users that all seem to range from the twelve to fourteen age and be obsessed with Frozen. It’d be nice to see you come back, but I can see why you aren’t overly enthusiastic.

      2. I agree with dclairmont: I’ve been liking Fanpop less and less. And those annoying users – Emmalou, ugh.

        Anyway, great review, Jayden, even though I don’t agree with most of it. I love this movie, I don’t find it boring at all, and I think the character of Aurora is much more nuanced than you’re giving her credit for. I love the symbolism, art and music of this movie. In my eyes, it’s an animated masterpiece.

      3. Hey Silverrose. It is so nice to see you again. You are the third person that told me it is getting worse over there. Is it just annoying, immature users, or is there more to it?

        I am so not shocked that you (and many others) disagreed with me on this. It is just that when I watched it, she did not do much, and is only sweet, musical and romantic. It is definitely not as bad as I thought it was.

      4. Well, it’s just not the annoying users: the club is less active. It’s boring and repetitive. It lacks originality. And there’s still drama and hate and bashing: Cinderella is a doormat, Merida and Ariel are pitted against each other, Anna is stupid, Elsa lacks personality, etc. It’s not as enjoyable, creative, warm and welcoming as it was before. But the Team Games are back though: I’m in Team Snow White. And I’m doing the POTM countdowns for Cinderella, so I’ll have to wait before I take a break.

      5. I remember that t was getting less active. I am assuming the people who think Cinderella are doormats are new, because there was a consensus that she was not right before I left. It is so sad that the people I did hear from are saying that it is less welcoming, and more dumb arguments. Maybe it is time for the good Fanpopers to leave and come on WordPress.

  4. I hate this movie too. It was so nice to finally find someone who agrees with me. Everyone praises the animation and you know what? It is the living definition of style over substance. I have NEVER liked this movie. I actually fell asleep watching it as a child, in fact. That is no joke. Though I thought it was hilarious when I woke up and realized what has happened, after watching it again, I think it is more difficult to stay awake.

    The movie is 75 minutes long and feels so much longer. It is nothing but a 75-minute animation showcase. This is a fairy tale in the strictest, most literal sense of the word.
    Fairy tales are the most streamlined version of any story. They are driven primarily by the off-screen storyteller, feature little characterization, or conversation. They run from A to B and include only what is necessary for the plot (because of their history as being short stories remembered and handed down by various people). Except that most fairy tales don’t actually have any fairies in them, while here the action is driven entirely by the fairies and everyone else is a hollow waxwork empty prop. But even Maleficent feels forced. She is an archetype, not a character, a card-carrying villain whose only motivation is not being invited to a party. She is evil because the story needs her to be and the fairies are good and heroic because the story needs them to be. And they give away Aurora’s location through a stupid argument then bring her back before the time has expired because the story needs them to. I also agree with one of my faithful readers, Heddwynn McCloud on Fanfiction.net: “I think Maleficent is overrated for one reason: instead of appealing to Aurora’s curiosity with a spinning wheel, or tempting her into disobeying the Good Fairies, she merely hypnotizes her. That may be evil, but it really was lacking.”

    Disney has been praised for changing that, for bringing fairy tales to life, and all this does is repeat a fairy tale. They spent 5 years working on all that animation and only part of one working on the actual story. Very little is even changed from the fairy tale. What little hasn’t is mostly just stolen from Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs, The two are so similar in fact that combined with the lack of character I got the two confused as a child a lot. Because children don’t care about the innovative 5-years-in-the-making animation. They care, even on a subconscious level, about almost anything else.

    This film marked the end of an era. It was the last of the 3 Disney fairy tales released in Walt Disney’s lifetime, and by far the least and the most unmemorable. When the book closed at the end, all I could think was, “It may take us another 30 years, but we’ll get what we came for…..”

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