Written by Puño Estupendo
As if the world needed another reminder of how wonderful Walt Disney used to be, here's the 50th Anniversary edition of Sleeping Beauty for you to marvel at in its two-disc glory. I haven't seen it in years, and if you haven't either, prepare to be bowled over. This is a wonderful digital restoration with an enhanced picture that gives you the full scope of the film frame. Once you see it like this (or if it's your first time ever seeing it), it's just a beautiful thing to look at. Sleeping Beauty seems to have dropped off in importance compared to other classics like Snow White or Cinderella, but after this version comes out, that might change.
This is all about the technical side of things. You know the story of Sleeping Beauty but you've never seen it like it's presented here, and that is the selling point. With an all-new 5.1 surround sound and a 2:55:1 widescreen enhancement, we finally have the tech side that can match its grandeur and scope. But don't let that turn you off if you don't have a huge, over-the-top setup at home. This is a wonderful fairy tale that would work on pretty much any color television. I can't see adults or children not being enthralled with this fantastic movie.
Disney has loaded the second disc with all sorts of goodies as well. The "Making Of Sleeping Beauty" documentary is quite extensive and is maybe geared a bit too much towards the movie snobs out there, but after seeing everything (and it seems as if everything is covered) that went into the production for this 1959 masterpiece, it's well worth sitting through. The level of detail that went into the film is mind-boggling, and through interviews and historians, I appreciate Sleeping Beauty on a whole new level and chances are you will, too.
There's also a "virtual tour" of the Sleeping Beauty castle attraction at Disneyland which has been closed for years. They recreated it visually as a walkthrough, even restoring original elements of the attraction that had been roped off years before they closed it down. By selecting a different audio track, you can get a verbal history of the original tour, and I highly recommend it. In fact, I think the making of and virtual tour are mandatory watching in this set. The supplementals here can be a bit long-winded, but they really give you added appreciation for the movie. Usually supplemental discs let me down, but this one is warranted and I enjoyed most of it. Deleted songs, alternate opening sequence add up to a long list of bonuses.
The only bad here is what everybody usually gripes about with Disney discs. The shameless self promotion and weak tie-ins to what they've got going on now are tiresome and insulting to this masterpiece. Having a video where "Hannah Montana's Emily Osment" sings the only musical number from the film, "Once Upon A Dream," is so out of place and without any need at all. It belittles the accomplishment of this release and I find it distasteful to have sullied this movie with that. Luckily though, there's an option you can select and bypass all of their commercials at the beginning of the disc. But seriously, I think it's ridiculous to even have to go through that trouble in the first place. Why they feel the need to soil what made the company is beyond me. Put that stuff on the Disney Channel releases, keep it off of your big guns. No place for it and it seems gross.
Having gotten that off my chest, I have to say you should pick this one up. If you have kids or even if you don't, it's a win-win situation. Following through on their "Limited Time Only" practice, you have no excuses not to grab it asap.