DVD Review: Walt Disney's SLEEPING BEAUTY 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition @ 6 October 2008 05:30 PM
Sleeping Beauty is a landmark film in Disney history. Beyond its bold, distinctive look, which has already received due praise and discussion, it came along when Walt Disney Productions had fully transformed from primarily a movie-making studio to a multi-faceted company with its own theme park, publishing, record labels and other interests that interwove each other in a process Roy Disney called "cross-pollination" but today we call synergy.
During its six-year production period leading to its much-heralded release in 1959, Sleeping Beauty inspired the castle in Disneyland (and the walk-through attraction which is now being reopened and featured on this new DVD), fourteen different recording releases (one featuring Broadway star Mary Martin and another with Mouseketeer Darlene Gillespie), countless comics, coloring books, toys and other merchandise, and perhaps most significantly, promoted on television from Walt's very first Disneyland show in 1954 to the Mickey Mouse Club.
While these elements existed for Disney in one form or another before Sleeping Beauty, never before had they been so homegrown.
Lots of beautiful bonus features
You can see many of these elements on the not-to-be-missed new 50th anniversary "Platinum Edition" DVD, overflowing with bonus features including a new audio commentary with Leonard Maltin, John Lasseter and Andreas Deja, several new mini-documentaries (with some Pixar artists as well as Disney personalities in attendance) and, as mentioned above, a Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Walk-Through Attraction With Walt Disney Imagineering that you can customize and experience before it opens to the public.
Disney historian Russell Schroeder had a hand in making possible the "lost" sequences new to the DVD, including an alternate opening with a song called "Holiday" and three other song demos with storyboards to convey what might have been.
Russell's research for his Disney's Lost Chords books led to music and art discoveries that assisted greatly in assembling these features.
Keep the earlier one?
You may want to hang onto your 2003 Special Edition DVD of Sleeping Beauty if you want to have a different audio commentary (a very elaborate production by Jeff Kurtti), an earlier documentary and a few games that did not carry over to this new release.
That said, the main attraction is of course, the film itself, which is stunning in its newly expanded glory. The Technirama image has been fully realized for the first time, exposing the full frame and every bit of the rich artwork.
I watched the opening on both DVDs to compare them and I really could see more detail on either side of the image (on the earlier version, for example, you won't see the man holding the stick to the right of the screen as the fairies approach the thrones). The overall picture looks better than I could imagine.
The new DVD (which is also on Blu-Ray with a bonus regular-format DVD) is a fine and fitting tribute to a film that Walt envisioned as a masterpiece of animation and ultimately ended up being a box office success and a highly revered artistic achievement.
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