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JLFM's Movie Reviews (152)

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Sleeping Beauty (1959) 
Has The Unconventional Strength Of Simplicity
3/4 stars

Sleeping Beauty strikes me as a rather straight forward movie. There is little in this movie that will strike the viewer as unexpected. Yet, perhaps that's why Sleeping Beauty is still loved to this day, it's pure simplicity and basic story telling.

Sleeping Beauty is a tale we all know. Princess Aurora is cursed by classic Disney villain, Maleficent. The curse states that the princess will die before her 16th birthday. The three good fairies (Flora, Fauna and Merryweather) take the child as their own to protect her, though ultimately, Maleficent manages to prick Aurora's finger, killing her. Prince Phillip, of course, has to kiss her in order to awake Aurora, but that proves complicated.

Sleeping Beauty has many strengths. It's animation was impressive for it's time, and while it looks mostly basic today, the animation's simplicity is part of Sleeping Beauty's charm.

The score, composed by George Bruns, is excellent, as is often the case with Disney scores. Also, the main song "Once Upon A Dream," is very beautiful, but some might argue that it was a bit risky. "Once Upon A Dream" is a very slow, waltz song, which may have bored children, but ends up being one of Disney's most enduring songs.

Most of the main characters are likeable, yet not very engaging. However, there are some bright spots in the character area. The three good fairies steal every scene they're in. They're funny and somewhat eccentric, and extremely memorable. Maleficent was just a bit disappointing, considering her legacy, but her sinister appearance (and epic name) alone make her an entertaining villain. One just wishes she had a little personality, as opposed to being another stereotypical Disney villain. Also, she doesn't seem to have much of a motive for her villainy, other than being bad.

Sleeping Beauty's primary problem is due to it's brief run time of only 75 minutes. Admittedly, there's not much to the tale, but Sleeping Beauty never feels stretched or tedious. In fact, the pace is perfect until Sleeping Beauty falls asleep. After that, the movie moves much too fast, and before you know it, Sleeping Beauty is over. The climax is certainly disappointing, but it's not bad. It's just a little rushed.

While Sleeping Beauty doesn't rank among my favorite Disney Princess films, I can't deny it's entertainment value. And the three good fairies are some of Disney's most memorable characters to date. It's rushed ending and (slightly) underwhelming villain are merely minor bumps in the road. Sleeping Beauty possesses two adjectives that are rarely seen in the same film these days: Short and entertaining.


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