Disney's 1959 Sleeping Beauty
was the studio's most ambitious effort to date, a lavish spectacle boasting a gorgeous waltz-filled score adapted from the music of Tchaikovsky. In the 14th century, the malevolent Maleficent (not dissimilar to the wicked queen in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
) taunts a king that his infant Aurora will fatally prick her finger on a spinning wheel before sundown on her sixteenth birthday. This, of course, would deny her a happily-ever-after with her true love. Fortunately, some bubbly, bumbling fairies named Flora, Fauna and Merryweather are on hand to assist. It's not really all that much about the title character--how interesting can someone in the middle of a long nap be, anyway? Instead, those fairies carry the day, as well as, of course, good Prince Phillip, whose battle with the malevolent Maleficent in the guise of a dragon has been co-opted by any number of animated films since. See it in its original glory here, alongside Malificent's castle, which, filled with warthogs and demonic imps in a macabre dance celebrating their evil ways, manages a certain creepy grandeur. --David Kronke, Amazon.com
The classic Walt Disney version of the Brothers Grimm fairytale. Thanks to a curse visited upon her by the evil fairy Maleficent, Princess Aurora falls into a deep and endless sleep on her 16th birthday. Only a kiss from Prince Phillip can wake her, and three good fairies set out to engineer that event.