When it was originally released in theaters, back in 1959, Sleeping Beauty was initially considered a rare flop for Walt Disney Productions. The movie failed to recoup its $6 million production costs, and resulted in the company losing money in its 1960 fiscal year. The results even put a pause on Walt Disney’s tackling of classic fairy tale stories. In the years since, an appreciation for the film’s strongly stylized art and iconic villain, Maleficent, have made Sleeping Beauty one of Disney’s most successful classics. Now Disney is once again releasing Sleeping Beauty, this time as a Diamond Edition Blu-ray.
Based on the Grimm fairytle Little Briar Rose and Charles Perrault’s The Sleeping Beauty, Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty tells the tale of a princess cursed by the evil fairy, Maleficent. Luckily, the princess is protected by three good fairies and, ultimately, saved by true love’s kiss. The film features a cast including opera singer Mary Costa in the title role and Disney regular Eleanor Audley as the terrifying Maleficent. Sleeping Beauty’s soundtrack, an original adaptation of Peter Tchaikovsky’s music, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1959.
Sleeping Beauty was actually one of the first Disney movies I ever saw in a theater. While that experience wasn’t during its original 1959 run, it was during one of its early re-releases. It was really that striking art style, particularly in the villain design that made the movie so memorable for me. Like many of its early critics, I found the pacing slow, in my youth, and even now, I agree, and also find it a little too musical. Watching it now, in a high definition transfer, I am really awestruck with hand-drawn art work and the purposeful use of color.
Honestly, it wasn’t that long ago that Sleeping Beauty was made available in high definition as a Platinum Edition Blu-ray, in 2008. Of course since then, Disney has made and released the live-action spin-off, Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie. Considering, Disney releases their classic animated films about once a decade, the Diamond Edition of the movie isn’t much of a surprise. If you’re curious, 101 Dalmatians is next on the list for the Diamond treatment. Strangely, the technically superior Diamond Edition of Sleeping Beauty loses almost a blu-ray disc’s worth of extras while adding only a handful of new ones. To be fair, the new features do clock in at over two hours.
Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition includes both Blu-ray and DVD discs, and offers a digital copy via download. The film itself runs approximately 75 minutes long and is presented in a flawless 2.55:1 widescreen format in 1080p high definition. The blu-ray disc offers 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio in English, 7.1 DTS DHHR in French, and Dolby Digital 5.1 in Spanish. The DVD offers only Dolby Digital 5.1 in English, French, and Spanish. English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles are available on both discs. I doubt there is a technically comparable release for a nearly 60 year old film. While the loss of the previously available extras is regrettable, the Diamond Edition is otherwise a superior release.
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