DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ***** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)

    Mary Costa as PRINCESS AURORA
    Bill Shirley as PRINCE PHILLIP
    Eleanor Audley as MALEFICENT
    Verna Felton as FLORA
    Barbara Luddy as MERRYWEATHER
    Barbara Jo Allen as FAUNA
    Taylor Holmes as STEFAN
    Bill Thompson as HUBERT

    Rated G
    Studio: Disney

    Directed by: Clyde Geronimi
    Back to DVD Review Home


Much to the chagrin of my two young sons, “Sleeping Beauty” is one of my favorite films from the Disney animation library. Yeah, I know that having an affinity to a princess movie puts me in their uncool book, but taken as a childhood adventure, you can’t get much better than this film.

Every six months or so, Walt Disney Studios releases a Platinum Edition of one of their classic films. The Platinum Series offers more than the typical one- or two-disc special edition. It is a line reserved only for the most beloved classics, often coinciding with an anniversary.

The “Sleeping Beauty” 50th anniversary is coming up, and to commemorate this, Walt Disney Studios has given it a Platinum release. This involves restoring the film to its original brilliance, remixing the sound and adding a new selection of bonus features.

The technical restoration of “Sleeping Beauty” is significant for this release because the original widescreen presentation is brought back. While most widescreen DVDs are presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, “Sleeping Beauty” was 2.55:1. The extra footage on the edges of the screen has not been seen since it was originally prepared in the 1950s.

From the sound standpoint, this release offers both a 5.1 mix and a 7.1 mix for BluRay. And, if you’re springing for the BluRay release, the box comes with a bonus disc of the film in standard definition.

The feature disc includes this restored version of the film along with a music video of Emily Osmet’s “Once Upon a Dream” and a sing-along selection for the songs in the film. In the Backstage Disney section of this first disc, viewers can access an audio commentary that features Andreas Deja, John Lasseter, Leonard Maltin and even Walt Disney in archived recorded footage.

There’s also pop-up trivia that can appear throughout the feature by accessing the “Princess Fun Facts” option on the menu. Additional special features on the first disc include the Oscar-winning nature film “Grand Canyon,” which was presented with “Sleeping Beauty” during its original release, and “The Peter Tchaikovsky Story,” which appeared as part of the Disneyland television show in the 50s.

The second disc includes two set-top games, Briar Rose’s Enchanted Dance Game and “Sleeping Beauty” Fun with Language Game. The dance game teaches waltz steps to the viewer, and the language game teaches basic English language skills.

The bulk of the second disc includes content about the production of the film. Basic elements like art galleries, publicity items, storyboard sequences and deleted songs are included. There’s also an alternate opening to the film featuring different music and presented with animated storyboards.

A 45-minute documentary “Picture Perfect: The Making of Sleeping Beauty” takes the viewer through the long journey the film made at Disney Studios, and the “Sequence 8” documentary describes the incredible detail that was used to develop one particular scene.

A lot of time is spent on the artistic styles of this film, which has a distinct look from other Disney material. Much of this style comes from artist Eyvind Earle, who was commissioned to make all the backgrounds. There’s a short documentary about his contributions to the film, as well as a 15-minute bit from the old Disneyland television program that shows how four different Disney artists use their unique styles to paint the same tree.

Finally, this disc includes a virtual “Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough,” which presents the Sleeping Beauty Castle attraction at Disneyland in its original look. Imagineers discuss the development of this diorama set and its history in the world of Disney.

“Sleeping Beauty” is a classic well worth the Platinum treatment on DVD, and it makes me look forward to upcoming releases like “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia,” coming out in 2009.

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