Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 14th, 2003
In the tradition of DVD releases of other classic Disney films, Sleeping Beauty as been given an all-star DVD treatment. Everyone has grown up watching Disney animated classic films, and everyone knows the story. No matter how many time you see these films, they never go out of style… and so is the case with Sleeping Beauty.
- ”Walt Disney’s SLEEPING BEAUTY is a magical and timeless story combining some of Disney’s most enchanting characters with one of the screen’s most infamous villains, Maleficent. Th…s classic animated fairytale is the story of the beautiful Princess Aurora who is cursed by the evil Maleficent to prick her finger on a spinning wheel on her 16th birthday and fall into a deep slumber – only to be awakened by the kiss of her true love. Raised in seclusion by three good-hearted fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, the curse isn’t undone until the brave Prince Phillip battles Maleficent, who transforms herself into a fire-breathing dragon, and awakens his “Sleeping Beauty” with a kiss.” – Disney
The video transfer on this DVD is simply magnificent. The original source as been completely restored, creating a pristine transfer that is breathtaking… especially considering the fact that Sleeping Beauty is pushing 60 years old. The colors look more vibrant then ever before, and all print defects have been removed. Both 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full frame transfer look equally good… but I would strongly recommend viewing Sleeping Beauty in its original aspect ration of 2.35:1. This video transfer is a prime example of the magic that can be done on DVD.
Although not as stunning as the video quality, this discs Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix is still very good. The dialog and front channels are handled beautifully in portraying the films score and tone. Since Sleeping Beauty was recording in mono, this new 5.1 track does not utilize the surround channels like most of today’s DVD releases. There is some ambient surround activity, but the track is very front oriented. There is also a nice touch of base added from the .1 LFE channel which was a nice surprise. This film as never sounded so good.
As is the case with most Disney animated Special Editions, this disc is crammed with wonderful extras. Disc one of this two-disc set contains an audio commentary moderated by Disney historian Jeff Kurtti. Kurtti introduces comments by a number of legendary Disney employees from past and present (including art director Eywind Earle, supervising animators Ollie Johnston and Marc Davis, background painter Frank Armitage, artists Mike Gabriel and Michael Giaimo and Mary Costa). This track is very educational, and somewhat more technical then entertaining.
Disc two is split up into two sections… Games, Music & Fun and History & Behind the Scenes. As can be expected from the section titles, one is targeted for the kids, and the other for the adults.
The Games, Music & Fun section includes the following extras…
- “Disney’s Art Project” is a feature that shows you how to build a dragon and design a princess from everyday household materials.
- The ”Rescue Aurora Adventure Game” is a good children’s game that features brand new Disney animation. By answering multiple choice questions about the film, you get to help Prince Phillip race to the castle and battle the evil Maleficent as you try to break the spell and awaken the sleeping Princess Aurora.
- The ”Princess Personality Profile Game”, through a series of personality questions, tell you which classic Disney princess you are most like.
- Sleeping Beauty Ink & Paint Project allows you to be a Disney artist and paint your favorite Sleeping Beauty characters. Unfortunately, this activity does not really give you any creative freedom, rather is forces you to paint in order with pre-selected colors. Kids might get some entertainment from this extra, but it is rather dry.
- Lastly, this section includes a “Once Upon A Dream” Sing Along Song and a “Once Upon (Another) Dream” Music Video
The History & Behind the Scenes section includes the following extras…
- “The Making of Sleeping Beauty” is a featurette that explores this legendary film though a series of interviews with animators and historians.
- The Story section contains two text featurettes (The History of the Story & The 1951 Outline) as well as storyboard sequences for two scenes.
- The Production section contains some of the most interesting extras found on this disc. The Widescreen to Pan-and-Scan Comparison shows how much of the picture is lost when viewing the film in 1.33:1 full frame. The Restoration featurette shows how the original print was restored for this DVD release; this could be one of the best restoration featurettes ever made. There are also featurettes covering topics such as The Music, The Design, Creating the Backgrounds & Live-Action reference.
- Lastly, this History & Behind the Scenes section contains Sleeping Beauty Galleries, Trailers, a Sleeping Beauty Scrapbook, & three classic Disney animated shorts
Everyone should own this classic Disney film on DVD. Kids will love the music & games, and adults will continue to love the story and the quality of this disc. This discs should definitely find its home next to Beauty & the Beast and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in your DVD collection.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “Once Upon a Dream: The Making of Sleeping Beauty”
- Three Disney Shorts
- Restoration Demo
- Multiple featurettes
- Music Videos
- Widescreen-to-Full screen Comparison