Plot: What’s it about?
I have to admit that I’ve not seen every Disney movie. All of the classics? Yes. But there are some ones of note that, for one reason or another, have escaped my viewing pleasure. But I, like most any other kid out there, was taken to the theater to see Sleeping Beauty and even at the time, it was still considered a classic. I’ll also say that when it comes to the timeless Disney films, I’m more of a fan of Fantasia and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Why? I don’t know, really. I think that Fantasia spoke to me a bit more as I enjoyed the music associated with it and movies about princesses really didn’t have the same effect on me as, say, a female. I’m just ball parking, of course, but that’s the way I seem to remember it. Nevertheless, it can’t be denied that this movie has certainly stood the test of time and it’s nowhere more evident than with the release of Maleficent (and, in no small part, I’d say that film and its success has brought this Diamond Edition to stores). One of the all-time villains steals the show. I’ll assume anyone reading this has seen the film, but if not…
King Stefan and his wife have welcomed a new bundle of joy to the kingdom. Aurora is her name and she’s bestowed with gift of magic from three fairies: Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. However not all is well when Maleficent shows up and places a curse on the Princess Aurora. The curse? She’ll die on her 16th birthday after pricking her finger on a spinning wheel’s spindle. King Stefan orders that all spinning wheels destroyed, but nevertheless Aurora is whisked off to the forest and is summarily raised by said three fairies. Time passes and on her 16th birthday, Aurora meets Prince Phillip, son of a King that will merge with King Stefan’s kingdom. Aurora and Phillip are in love and Aurora is kidnapped by Maleficient and manages to fulfill the prophecy when she tricks her into pricking her finger on the spinning wheel spindle. Desperate to save his true love, Phillip fights the forces of Maleficent and her minions, eventually fighting Maleficent herself. Will the Prince be successful or will he and his true love perish?
Video: How’s it look?
This is one of the jewels in Disney’s crown, for sure, so I’m willing to bet that when it came to the visual presentation – they were very dutiful about it. With that said, Sleeping Beauty has really never looked better and I’ll be very honest in that I probably haven’t seen this since I was a kid. The very wide 2.55:1 AVC HD image has been cleaned, polished and restored to as much, er, beauty, as was possible. Granted some of the backdrops do tend to have a bit of grain associated with them, but the overall look and feel of the film is very clean and free of debris. The green that surrounds Maleficent seems to glow, the flesh tones of the fairies is crystal clear and even black levels seem rock solid. For a film of this age and having seen this on some less than desirable formats – it looks pretty darn good.
Audio: How’s it sound?
In a word – amazing. I’ve seen countless films from just about every year that cinema’s existed and though Sleeping Beauty won’t hold a candle to today’s modern tracks, I’d say that this 1959 classic does pack quite the aural punch. The included feature shows the lengths that the studio went to in order to produce the DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 track (though this was for the 2008 release). Vocals and songs seem to resonate through each and every channel. Directional effects have a presence to them that I wouldn’t have thought possible for a film of this age. Of course there are some other associated effects as well that all sound good. The front stage handles the burden of the mix, but the surrounds are much more active that I’d have thought. It’s a nice, robust mix and one that left me suitably impressed.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You want a lesson in Marketing 101? Ok, quick – what’s the motivation for releasing a movie on Blu-ray that’s already been released with amazing A/V quality plus supplements out the wazoo? Give up? Well I’m willing to bet that it has a little to do with the success of Malficent and its three-quarters of a billion worldwide box office gross. I mean, seriously, why sell something once when you can sell it twice? To be fair, there are some new supplements on this Diamond Edition, though there are a lot of features that were left off from the Platinum Edition. Enough talk, though, let’s cover what’s included in this version.
Pre-Existing Supplements (found on the Platinum Edition)
- Audio Commentary – John Lasseter, the “head guy” of Pixar along with film critic and Leonard Maltin are accompanied by Disney animator Andreas Deja as the trio give their thoughts on the film. Maltin’s comments are aimed at the legacy of the film, while Lasseter describes the technical aspects of the film and Deja gives us more of the “Disney” perspective. Nevertheless, it’s a nice and fun track to listen to.
- Picture Perfect: The Making of Sleeping Beauty – This is probably the most robust piece included in the set and I’m glad this wasn’t one of the supplements that was dropped from the Platinum Edition. This 45 minute piece discusses the history of the film, some of the challenges that it took to make and some of the struggles (both internal and external) of the film. This doesn’t paint Disney in a very positive light, so it’s a pretty good look at filmmaking in the late 50’s (i.e. it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be).
- Eyvind Earle: The Man and His Art – A look at the work of Eyvind Earle and how it’s stood the test of time, especially in Sleeping Beauty.
- The Sound of Beauty: Restoring a Classic – After watching the film, I have to say that I was duly impressed at how good it sounded. This segment shows us the literal lengths that Disney went through to give us this new 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio mix. I’d say it was worth it.
New Supplements (exclusive to the Diamond Edition)
- Once Upon A Parade – Bear in mind that this Marketing Diamond Edition is all about the up-sell. Sarah Hyland (from TV’s Modern Family) shares a story about Walt Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade.
- The Art of Evil: Generations of Disney Villains – Essentially just that – we get a look at some of the best Disney villains over the years.
- @DisneyAnimation: Artists in Motion – Disney artist Brittany Lee shows us what a 3-D sculpture of Maleficent looks like and how cool it is to work @Disney.
- Beauty-Oke: “Once Upon A Dream” – A Disney sing-along.
- Deleted Scene: The Curse Is Fulfilled – We’re shown some storyboards of Aurora being tricked into touching the wishing wheel. Don’t do it!
- Alternate Scene: The Arrival of Maleficent – Just that – some storyboards of the arrival of Maleficent.
- Deleted Scene: The Fair – Aurora disguises herself as a servant and goes to the fair – again, in storyboard form.
- DVD/Digital HD Copy