21 years ago, I was born. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been regarded as a bad move. With that hitchhiker’s reference out of the way, my film loving self is celebrating his 21st birthday this weekend and the 21st is seen as a celebration into the world of adulthood and being able to drink legally.
And because it is my birthday, I want to do a personal post about a movie I love.
In 1937, Walt Disney Productions released the first feature length animated feature Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, unleashing a new world of animated feature productions leading to over fifty animated features ranging from fantasy, adventure, comedy, and even science fiction. With a strong animated canon, it is fairly easy to find a film that suits you and your personal taste. As a kid growing up, I fell in love with two films from the canon, one more than the other.
One film was The Lion King, a typical film that any boy around my age in the late 90’s would have picked, thanks to the father-son dynamic. Yet as years went by, I grew to realize my second favorite would eventually became my true favorite. If I had said it as a young boy, I could just imagine the nitpicks and name calling that would occur upon just mentioning the title. That film was 1959’s Sleeping Beauty.
Sleeping Beauty ranks up there with Fantasia and Snow White in my mind when I think of Walt Disney masterpieces. As a kid, when the first sequence started after the classic storybook opener, I knew I was in for a marvelous experience and it did not disappoint.
The story starts with the king and queen of a unnamed kingdom giving birth to the new princess, Aurora, named after the dawn. As the kingdom celebrates, three fairies by the name of Flora, Fauna, and Merriwhether bare gifts to the newborn with Flora baring the gift of beauty and Fauna baring the gift of song. During Merryweather preparation to give a gift, the evil fairy, Maleficent, interrupts to deliver death upon Aurora at age sixteen, if she should prick her hand on the spinning wheel. Merryweather counteracts by baring a gift of making the death become sleep that can be cured with the power of true love’s kiss. The rest a majority of people reading this probably already know.
BUT FOR THOSE NOT IN THE KNOW!
Girl pricks finger sixteen years later. Prince must saves her as the evil fairy turns into a dragon. Then, a big climatic showdown with badass music, prince stabs the dragon, defeated dragon screams in mercy and dies as the Pirnce kisses the the girl and cues the happily ever after.
The film itself is a piece of art capturing the feel that you are watching a medieval tapestry come to life as it goes beyond the regular aspect ratio of previous films to a fully colored and fantastical Technirama widescreen presentation, adding more depth and detail to the various landscapes and locations. The colors are lush and vibrant and pop in every scene, even the dark scenes involving Maleficent.
The use of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet as the score bring the brilliance and wonderment of the simple story to life, even giving words to the Waltz with the gorgeous ‘Once Upon a Dream’. The characters are design with love and passion, from the beauty of love that is Aurora, the hilarious yet caring fairies, the handsome hero in Prince Phillip and the elegance and grace of evil of Maleficent.
The film truly shines throughout from the forest sequence as the two lovers meet, the sleeping spell being placed upon the great kingdom, and the most climax with Prince Phillip racing on his gallant steed to defeat the wretched Maleficent as she unleashes the powers of hell in its full glory in the form of the mythical dragon in a battle of ultimate good versus evil.
Sleeping Beauty plays like a true cinematic experience, harnessing all the powers of animation and film to make the ultimate fairy tale film. Maybe I’m in the minority who thinks very highly of this film as if I was bringing it up alongside the greats of The Godfather, Citizen Kane and Casablanca, but to me, I feel it deserves to be seen as what it is: An absolute classic with all the majesty of a ballet and all the wonder only Disney animation can provide.
Next week, the pop world takes over FIlm A Week with dance skills to kills, music that will run in your head for days, and plenty of crotch-grabbing to captivate your heart. SHAMONE! It’s Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. HOOOOO!
Film A Week 25: Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (1988)
Saturday, June 29