Sleeping Beauty is a 1959 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney based on Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault. The 16th Disney animated feature film, it was released to theaters on January 29, 1959, by Buena Vista Distribution. It features the voices of Mary Costa, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Barbara Luddy, Barbara Jo Allen, Bill Shirley, Taylor Holmes, and Bill Thompson.
The film was directed by Les Clark, Eric Larson, and Wolfgang Reitherman, under the supervision of Clyde Geronimi, with additional story work by Joe Rinaldi, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright, and Milt Banta. The film's musical score and songs, featuring the work of the Graunke Symphony Orchestra under the direction of George Bruns, are arrangements or adaptations of numbers from the 1890 Sleeping Beauty ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Sleeping Beauty was the first animated film to be photographed in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process, as well as the second full-length animated feature film to be filmed in anamorphic widescreen, following Disney's Lady and the Tramp four years earlier. The film was presented in Super Technirama 70 and 6-channel stereophonic sound in the first-run engagements. In 2019, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
After many childless years, King Stefan and Queen Leah welcome the birth of their daughter, the Princess Aurora. They proclaim a holiday for their subjects to pay homage to the princess, and at her christening she is betrothed to Prince Phillip, the son of King Stefan's best friend King Hubert, to unite their kingdoms.
Among the guests are the three good fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. Flora and Fauna bless Aurora with beauty and song, respectively, but Merryweather's gift is interrupted by the arrival of the evil fairy Maleficent. Told that she was not invited, Maleficent turns to leave, but when Queen Leah asks if she is offended, the evil fairy curses the princess, proclaiming that Aurora will grow in grace and beauty, but before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. The King and Queen beg the fairies to undo the curse, but they are not powerful enough; Merryweather uses her blessing to weaken the curse so that instead of dying, Aurora will fall into a deep sleep, only broken by true love's kiss. King Stefan orders all spinning wheels throughout the kingdom be burned. At the fairies' urging, the King and Queen reluctantly bring Aurora to a cottage in the forest to live with the fairies in safety.
Aurora, renamed Briar Rose, grows into a beautiful young woman. On her sixteenth birthday, the fairies ask her to gather berries so they can prepare a surprise party. Aurora befriends the animals of the forest and sings them a song, "Once Upon a Dream". Phillip, now a handsome young man, follows Aurora's voice and is instantly struck by her beauty and grace. She is initially startled, as she is not allowed to talk to strangers, but she and Phillip fall in love, and she invites him to meet her family at the cottage that evening.
Meanwhile, Flora and Merryweather argue over the color of Aurora's gown, attracting the attention of Maleficent's raven who learns Aurora's location. Returning home, Aurora is thrilled to tell her guardians that she has fallen in love. The fairies finally tell Aurora that she is a princess, already betrothed to a prince, and she must never see the man she met again. Heartbroken, Aurora cries in her room. Phillip tells his father of the peasant girl he met and wishes to marry, in spite of his prearranged marriage. King Hubert fails to convince his son otherwise, leaving him equally devastated.
The fairies take Aurora to the castle to await her birthday celebrations, where she will finally see her parents. Maleficent appears and lures Aurora into a dark tower away from the fairies, and tricks her into touching the spindle of a cursed spinning wheel. Aurora pricks her finger, fulfilling the curse. The three fairies place the sleeping Aurora on a bed in the highest tower and place a powerful spell on all the people in the kingdom, causing them to sleep until the spell on their princess is broken. They overhear a sleepy conversation between the two kings and realize that Phillip is the man with whom Aurora has fallen in love. They rush to find him, but he is abducted by Maleficent at the cottage. She then shows Phillip the sleeping Princess Aurora, and tells him her plan to lock him away until he is an old man on the verge of death, only to then release him to meet his love, who will not have aged a single day.
The fairies rescue Phillip, arming him with the magical Sword of Truth and Shield of Virtue. An enraged Maleficent surrounds the castle with thorns but fails to stop Phillip. She teleports in front of him and transforms into a gigantic dragon. They battle, and Phillip throws the sword, blessed by the fairies, directly into Maleficent's heart, causing her to fall to her death.
Phillip awakens Aurora with a kiss, breaking the spell and waking the kingdom. The royal couple descends to the ballroom, where Aurora is reunited with her parents. Flora and Merryweather resume their argument over Aurora's gown while the happy couple dance, living happily ever after.
Sound Effects Used
- DISNEY CASTLE THUNDER
- Disney Cymbal Crash Sound
- Disney "Oof" Sound
- DISNEY SLOW THUNDER CLAP AND RUMBLE
- Dopey Cry
- Hollywoodedge, Woman Screams LongP CRT028202
- Sound Ideas, BELL, ORCHESTRA - FAST GLISS UP, MUSIC, PERCUSSION
- Sound Ideas, Explosions - Explosion . . . flare-up . . . heavy
- Sound Ideas, THUNDER - THUNDER CLAP AND RUMBLE, WEATHER 01 (H-B)