Visually, this is without a doubt the most beautiful piece of work that came out of Disney studios, and for mainly economic reasons, it just wouldn't be topped after. But just like Pinocchio [Blu-ray] [1940
], another wonderful film, it is the blu-ray format itself that unlocked a film I hardly recognised compared to my VHS version. In its original 'Technirama' super wide format (the only Disney film to have this) and completely restored musical score, Sleeping Beauty appears as though it was filmed yesterday thanks to the amazing restoration and digital clarity that, once paused, allows the viewer to calculate how just one paused frame of animation is a work of art in itself.
Sleeping Beauty is notable for its original style of art that that took nearly a decade to research and complete, as Walt was defiant on having a film that, visually, was very different from his other films. The outcome is an amazing mix of Medieval stylistic shapes and incredibly bold colours that makes this one of the most original Disney films of the past. The backgrounds are often almost photographic quality whilst being contrasted by the geometric shape of the characters with bright, bold paint that just jump out the screen. Perhaps the most impressive scene in the film now is towards the end where Malificent, the villainess, transforms into a beautifully modelled dragon just oozing of 1950's stylistic elements, and yet retaining the terror of such a simple, alarming form.
The popularity of Sleeping Beauty is still rather inconsistent though. Despite the flawless visual elements, many believe the plot itself is weak and doesn't flow as well as earlier films. This is a good argument, but one which can be argued against because Disney wanted to produce a different kind of fairy-tale; one that was more progressive and shared the story more between the characters, rather than letting the Princess have most of the screen time.
The restoration makes the film a brand new experience. The ultra-wide scope reveals things you've never seen before, as well as giving a huge benefit to the animators in that movements and actions could sweep straight across the screen for a whole new dimension - one such example being the lightening bolts darting across the screen before the dragon fight. Every detail of the artwork is crisp as it could possibly be, whilst looking astonishingly like a brand new film because its so darn clear.
Soundtrack wise, its also very interesting that the original musical score was discovered in its original takes during practice sessions (on magnetic tape), allowing the people at Disney to use these un-blemished cans and do away with the original soundtrack! An amazing discovery that again, gives the film a new feel because the Stereo and clarity is far greater than old nitrate film.
As usual, the second disc is crammed full of featurettes and galleries, making the most of the Blu-Ray disc. In fact, theirs probably about 3 times more information on the disc than that of 'Pinocchio', with many featurettes being at least half an hour long. The one I have particularly enjoyed the most is called 'Three Men Paint One Tree'; a short documentary from the time of release where Walt narrates how some of his artists have gone out to a field and painted a tree in their own unique way. Such rare documentaries as this included in the package makes this the best value Blu-Ray I've bought - something of a major bargain.
Up to now, I'll still conclude that Disney have given Sony a 'major' helping hand in showing off the capabilities of blu-ray, as the few other publishers seem to take advantage of it, let alone show it off. Sony could be blamed partly for this, but the format in question, even down to its anti-scratch coating, should be preserved for the near future.
Final note - Unlike Pinocchio, this does not contain the additional standard DVD disc in the case. Just the 2 blu-ray discs.