Additional Information about the Feature Film Sleeping Beauty

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Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty (1959) Feature Length Theatrical Animated Film Sleeping Beauty

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  • Walt Disney Studios
  • Animated Characters: Briar Rose/Princess Aurora, Prince Phillip, Samson, King Stefan, Queen, King Hubert, Fauna, Flora, Merryweather, Maleficent, Diablo, Dragon.
  • Awards: Academy Award Nominee, Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture, 1959.
  • Originally Released in 1959.
  • Production Number: 2082 (Standard Aspect Ratio).
    CinemaScope Production Number: 2083
  • Running Time: 75 minutes.
  • TechniColor, TechniRama
  • U.S.A.  U.S.A.

Alternate Titles:

Foreign Language Title: "La Belle Au Bois Dormant (French)."

Release Dates:

  • Jan 29, 1959- Los Angeles Premiere
  • Feb 17, 1959- New York Premiere
  • Jul 29, 1959- British Release
  • Oct 30, 1959- German Release
  • Dec 16, 1959- French Release
  • Jun 10, 1970- First US Rerelease
  • Sep 28, 1979- Second US Rerelease
  • Mar 7, 1986- Third US Rerelease
  • Mar 7, 1986- VHS Release
  • Sep 10, 1995- Fourth US Rerelease
  • Sep 16, 1997- Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection Video Release
  • Aug 22, 2002- Fifth US Rerelease

Cartoon Production Information:

Sleeping Beauty was the first major film to earn more on video than in theatrical release. Its first million video sales earned Disney $19.5 million (compared with $15.8 million in North American film rentals).

Walt Disney spent nine years and a then-exorbitant $6 million to make the film.

First Disney feature film to be shot in 70mm; also had a stereophonic soundtrack.

VHS release was done in pan-and scan method, losing 1/3 of the frame.

This film marked Taylor Holmes' last screen appearance; he died eight months after it's release.

This was the 16th film in the official Disney list of animated films.

Estimated budget of $6 million.
This film made $51.6 million in it's initial theatrical release.
Traditional, Hand-drawn Animation.

Technical Notes:

Sleeping Beauty was photographed in Technirama. This was an adaptation of the VistaVision process introduced by Paramount. Like VistaVision, the standard 35mm film traveled in a horizontal path through the camera, exposing a frame that was 8-perforations wide.... but the wrinkle that makes it different is that the photography was done with an anamorphic lens for a 1.5x squeeze... so where standard VistaVision was shown at 1.66 or 1.85, Technirama was then printed for first runs as "Super Technirama 70", which meant 70mm projection prints with an aspect ratio 2.55:1.

The "technicolor" in the credit was simply contractual, as they were the lab developing negative and making (Eastmancolor) release prints.... though the 35mm CinemaScope prints (cropped to 2.35) would have been made in 1959 by dye-transfer.

And to make it really interesting, the camera photography, like all Disney animation of the period, was photographed as color separations on Black & White negative film stock by the Successive Exposure process (each single color frame that you see on screen is in fact a "triple exposure" of the three successive frames of negative, first a red exposure, then a green and blue).

Courtesy of Scott MacQueen


Walt Disney envisioned Sleeping Beauty as the zenith of animated filmmaking. Preliminary work began in 1950, and story development occupied the next few years. The project was put on virtual hiatus in 1954, while the Studio staff concentrated on Disneyland and the two Disney TV series. Full production began again in 1956.

More than any previous animated feature, Sleeping Beauty showed an audience how realistically animated characters could be rendered. Walt Disney said, "I had only one general suggestion for our animators-make them as real as possible, near flesh and blood, and sympathetic-especially to younger picture fans. That is why we used living models more carefully than ever before, in order to give artists inspiration, to help them shape the anatomy of movement and expression of the cartoon figures."

Sleeping Beauty was the first animated feature to be filmed on wide-gauge film, using the Technirama® 70 system. The 70mm presentation added a clarity and steadiness to the already complex designs that helped enhance the audience appreciation of the film's beauty.

By the end of production, Sleeping Beauty had cost (6 million- the most expensive animated cartoon to that time. Sleeping Beauty went into production when Walt Disney was distracted with other projects such as live-action films, television and Disneyland. Consequently, Sleeping Beauty spent six years in production and had less of Walt's personal imprimatur than any earlier feature. This lack of intense personal involvement was blamed by many for the indifferent audience response to the initial release. Indeed, Sleeping Beauty has only been re-released to theaters three times, and has only recently received high regard, primarily for its animation and design.

Walt Disney's artistic aspirations for Sleeping Beauty were extremely high. He challenged his staff to create a "moving illustration," in which every frame of film was a beautiful picture. To achieve the film's illuminated look, Disney enlisted the talents of Eyvind Earle. The distinctive "primitive" style of Sleeping Beauty was the brainchild of this distinguished artist. "You see, all primitive painting is done in horizontal and vertical lines," Earle explained. "Only when you intellectualize do you get into diagonals and curves." Earle fused Gothic French, Italian, and Renaissance influences with his own abstract style of realism to create the formalized beauty of design in Sleeping Beauty. Earle's influence naturally extended to character designs, which were strongly vertical and angular to fit comfortably into the setting designs.

Two of Sleeping Beauty's main characters were supervised by legendary animator Marc Davis. For Princess Aurora, Davis chose a slender, gamine design inspired by Audrey Hepburn. For Maleficent, Davis animated a cold, elegant villain in the style of Lady Macbeth, drawing his inspiration from the refined diction and expressive inflection of voice actress Eleanor Audley (who had earlier given voice to Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's wicked stepmother).

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Cartoon Comments:

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What can I say about this great work of art?

This is my favorite animated film of all time. The voices, animation, script, score, songs, all work together to paint a perfect tapestry of magic, romance and terror. I've been watching this film...  (read more)

2 of 46 people found this comment useful
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Sleeping Beauty

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Yes, in my opinion, this is the best Disney movie ever made. Being a Tchaikovsky fan, I especially love the way the lyricists were able to add lyrics to his already beautiful songs. The other reviewers were right; this movie isn't just for girls,...  (read more)

2 of 36 people found this comment useful
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Sleeping Beauty

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Some people may think this movie is for only children, female children in particular. But not true! EVERYONE will enjoy this classic film! Whatever your favorite type of movie is, this movie has it ALL: comedy, romance, suspense, mild horror, music, and...  (read more)

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Sleeping Beauty

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Sleeping Beauty is an original Walt Disney Masterpiece! Beautiful and enrapturing, with a musical score that won an Academy Award. The voice, and singing of Princess Aurora, Sleeping Beauty, is performed by the highly talented Mary Costa. Exquisite, warm...  (read more)

3 of 36 people found this comment useful
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