Sleeping Beauty DVD Review

In 1959, Walt Disney continued to evolve the medium of animation by releasing Sleeping Beauty, one of the most technologically sophisticated animated features to date.  For the first time ever, he was making a cartoon for the 70mm format instead of the usual 35mm.  Walt dubbed the process Technorama70.  The film itself was bigger, which meant that the animation had to be bigger.  There was more detail and more depth within every single frame and the results were amazing.  Costing six millions dollars and taking six years to complete, audiences were treated to something truly special.  Finally, almost fifty years later, the Walt Disney Studios has released a version of the film encompassing the scope of that original release. 

Unless you saw that original theatrical release, you have never seen Sleeping Beauty like this.  They have transferred every detail from every frame of that 70mm print, enabling us to see the full picture as originally intended.  When making the movie, Walt envisioned a “moving illustration.”  He wanted every individual frame to be a perfect image worthy of hanging on the wall.

There are several documentaries on this DVD providing fascinating insight into how Walt achieved this.  These include a look into a brilliant color stylist named Eyvind Earle who provided the elaborate backgrounds for the film.  There is also a 43 minute documentary that covers all aspects of the production.  Combining current interviews with footage shot back in the fifties, this is a must-see for animation buffs.  Other documentaries include a look into the year-long creation of the forest sequence which they dubbed “Sequence 8.”  Also included is a virtual tour of the original Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough Attraction at Disneyland, a nostalgic thrill for Disneyland junkies like myself.

Just as compelling are the programs included from back during Sleeping Beauty’s initial release.  These include an episode of the Disneyland television program entitled “The Peter Tchaikovsky Story.”  Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty was inspired by the score from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet, and this episode of Disneyland recreates the life of Tchaikovsky and how he ended up writing this masterpiece.  Walt himself hosts the show, and when it ends he gives audiences the first ever look at Widescreen in their own homes.  From a historical perspective, it is a fascinating program. 

Also included are several deleted songs, the Academy Award winning short Grand Canyon, Storyboards, Art Galleries, and much more.  Whether picking up the DVD for the movie or the bonus features, this is a must-own for any fan of Disney animation.

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