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on 15 December 2009
Blu-ray zone B only

Ratio of the feature film:
2.55:1 (original ratio)

Languages of the feature film:
- DTS Master Audio 7.1: English
- DTS 5.1: Latin Spanish, Italian, Dutch
- Dolby 2.0: Audio Descriptive Service

Subtitles for all the videos:
- Latin Spanish, Italian, Dutch, English, English for the hearing impaired

An outstanding picture and sound quality, Disney in charge of this restoration did an excellent job, this film couldn't have been watched in better condition than it is today. Bravo !!!
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on 29 August 2003
Keyed to the style of Disney artist Ervind Earle, SLEEPING BEAUTY has long been renowned as one of Walt Disney Studio's most artistically beautiful films--and now with this meticulous restoration Earle's vision comes to the home market in a DVD package that is sure to win praise from every fan of hand-drawn animation.
The story, of course, is the time-honored fairy tale. Princess Aurora is cursed at birth by the evil Maleficent, who declares that on her sixteenth birthday the princess shall prick her finger on a spinning wheel's spindle and die--but fortunately the powers of good are able to mute the effect of the curse; the princess shall not die, but shall instead fall into a deep sleep from which she can be only awakened by love's first kiss.
Earle's vision for the story is drawn from a host of sources, some of them more immediately apparent than others. The result is a curious mixture of flat illustration and meticulous detail that imparts both a modernist edge and the quality of an ancient illuminated manuscript--a truly remarkable concept that gives the film a visual style completely unlike any other among the Disney classics. The DVD offers the option of viewing the film in either its original widescreen ratio or pan-and-scan format--but why any one would elect pan-and-scan is completely beyond me; if ever there was a film that made good and full use of the widescreen ratio, this is it, and you'll want to see every inch of Earle's remarkable work.
Earle's style aside, SLEEPING BEAUTY has been influenced by a number of films that are worth noting. In terms of plot detail, it has been very clearly influenced by Disney's earlier SNOW WHITE, and the designs for the evil Maleficent and her "goons" are very clearly influenced by FANTASIA's "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence--and to magnificent effect; Maleficent is easily among the darkest characters ever created for film. Interestingly, many visual set-ups also seem to have been influenced by MGM's THE WIZARD OF OZ, most notably in the scenes in which the three good fairies rescue Prince Philip from Maleficent's nightmarish castle.
Unlike some animated films, the voices are beautifully matched to the characters, with Mary Costa as Princess Aurora and Eleanor Audley (who also performed the Wicked Stepmother in Disney's CINDERELLA) as Maleficent standouts among the cast. The score, which is based on the brilliant Tchaikovsky ballet score, is also extremely well handled and includes the memorable "Once Upon a Dream."
All of this has been lovingly, shining restored, and quite frankly even if you saw the film in its first release the result here will no doubt surpass it. There is not a blip, a glitch, or a sound-surge to be found. And as is usual with Disney "limited release" DVD editions, the package includes a host of extras, some designed to appeal to the younger set (there are two simple games, neither of which require a CD-ROM) for children and a host of interviews and documentaries. Fortunately, many of the people involved in SLEEPING BEAUTY are still with us--including Ervind Earle and Mary Costa--and their various contributions make the bonus package truly superior.
All of this said, it should be noted that like FANTASIA, SLEEPING BEAUTY is more likely to appeal to adults who can fully appreciate the visual charms of the film than to children, who may find the film's tendency to linger over visuals a bit too much for a limited attention span. But this is indeed a Disney masterpiece, and it belongs in your collection.
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VINE VOICEon 15 October 2008
Unfortunately demand from the public caused Sleeping Beauty to be almost rush released a few years ago. Now it's fantastic to have this classic back getting the 'Platinum Edition' treatment it deserves.
The digital restoration makes Sleeping Beauty look incredible... beautiful is kind of an understatement. If you researched into this film you'd discover that Walt's vision was for the art to carry the movie. Being able to see Sleeping Beauty in its original widescreen splendidness certainly highlights that. The restoration really makes those colorful backgrounds stand out. It's incredible to think that this entire movie was produced by hand even though some of the special effects look like they could have been produced in the computer editing process (that kind of editing wasn't invented in the era of this movie though). Sleeping Beauty truly was the end to an era.
The extras are the standard kind of thing we've come to expect from Disney's 'Platinum' series... deleted scenes, a making of featurette, deleted songs, an alterate opening and some games for the really young ones. The 'making of' is extremely informative and a must for anyone fascinated by the art of this movie. Disney have kept this fresh for the new generation by having Emily Osment of Hannah Montana fame sing a new version of 'Once Upon A Dream' in an exclusive music video just for the DVD.
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I have been trying to remember the first time I saw Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty," and I cannot remember if I ever saw it in a theater, caught it on television some time, or never sat down to watch it until it came out on videotape. What I did remember is not being particularly impressed by the movie. Certainly I did not consider it to be a classic Disney animated film like "Bambi" or "Cinderella," which is a way of saying that it was not on my "must have" list of Disney movies. Then I watched this 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition of "Sleeping Beauty" and all I can say is that however I saw this film for the first time it was NOT in this expanded version that has restored the original Super Technirama 70 dimensions of the film. I would have remembered a film that had art this gorgeous, even when it is this stylized and even when the music is classical high brow stuff. In the final analysis, "Sleeping Beauty" is clearly like no other Disney animated film, and that is a good thing.

Disc 1 includes "Grand Canyon," a contemporaneous Disney feature (1958) that combines photography of the national park with Ferde Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite," and it would be the classical music that is the common denominator to the main feature. Disc 2 has Games & Activities over in the Cottage, while the Castle is devoted to the Backstage Disney special features. The games are pretty much geared for younger children (e.g., see "mop" and click on the item the word represents), so most of the goodies on the second disc are for the adults. There is a new documentary on "The Making of 'Sleeping Beauty,'" which combines archival footage with contemporary interviews. The "Never-Before-Seen Alternate Opening" and "Deleted Songs" are not animated but storyboard drawings accompanying the original, more traditional Disney-like, songs that were written for the film before Walt decided to go primarily with a score based on Tchaikovsky's ballet version of the fairy tale.

If you have picked up any of these platinum editions, then you should be well versed in the sort of extras you can expect here in terms of storyboards, artwork, live-action reference footing, music video by some teenage singer, etc. The other one that stands out here is the fully immersive virtual tour of the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, a Disneyland attraction that actually existed before the part opened and years before the movie was released.

Besides reminding us again that Walt Disney was a true visionary, the special features highlight the pivotal role of Eyvind Earle, the film's production designer. It was Earle who was given an amazing amount of freedom by Walt to design the settings and to paint most of the film's elaborate background paintings (which usually took a week to do, rather than a single day like in most animated films). The interviews with surviving members of the studio make it clear that Earle did not play well with others, but he was fully committed to creating a unique animated film and now that we can see the expanded version, there is no denying that is exactly what they accomplished. Consequently, I am confident I can remember in the future that "Sleeping Beauty" is a beautifully stylized animated film that is a unique jewel in the Disney crown.
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on 3 December 2009
The beauty is never in question, but adults watching this with their children might be in for some unscheduled sleeping. It's amazing just how much the tempo of films has changed in the last fifty years, so that this effort seems to be quite guilty of spinning out very little material (the original brief fairy tale) into a film that is getting on for 1 1/2 hours.

That gripe aside, my daughter loves the film, so perhaps the issues of modern impatience and expectations for story-telling tempo only apply to adults. The film has its charming moments and is relatively shock-free for children at least until the climactic appearance of the dragon which unsettled my daughter a little - curiously, she was fine with Maleficent.

The restoration is spectacular. Obviously this is not going to look like a Pixar film, but the colours and the transfer of the print are top notch. The back cover shows how for so long the film was narrowed in its aspect ratio (pan and scan method) so that loads of gorgeous detail went missing. Now the film is restored to its wider than widescreen ratio of 2.55:1 If you hate black bars on the TV, they've never been bigger. But try projecting this film if you have a Full HD projector and you will be stunned by the glorious sweep of the film in its native aspect ratio.

The soundtrack reworked from original 1.0 to a new 7.1 HD soundtrack is fairly good, but not as good as the sound effects to be heard on the menu.

If your child is receptive to the relaxed, princessy world of older Disney classics this is a sure-fire hit. Adults will likely admire the historic, cinematic beauty, while occasionally hankering after the hipper family treats of Pixar & co.
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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.
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A big enough box-office disappointment for Disney to swear off animated adaptations of fairy tales for thirty years, Sleeping Beauty may have left audiences and critics alike lukewarm in 1959 but it's still one of the studio's finest achievements. Shot in the 70mm Technirama widescreen process, some felt that its stylised limitations - in reality far more elaborate than the UPA style of the day - didn't lend itself to a format that was at its best showcasing rather more detailed imagery, but while not as obviously lavish as their earlier animated films, it's still one of their most striking. Drawing its inspiration from illuminated manuscripts, occasionally counterpointing Eyvind Earle's elaborate yet apparently simple backgrounds and motionless characters with moving elements like the huge pillar of flame from a bonfire of spinning wheels, it often displays a real sense of mood and drama just through light and composition. The studio's last hand-inked animated feature, it was not a happy production, dragging on for nearly a decade and causing major cashflow problems as well as much dissent between the animators (among them Chuck Jones, who spent a few months unhappily slaving on the picture when Warners shut down their animation department). It may have taken a few decades to pay off on the investment, but it was worth it.

In terms of storytelling it's a tight 75-minutes that tells the tale (with a few variations en route) with enough character to make you care and none of the anachronistic comic sidekicks who are frequently allowed to take over the picture in more recent features. True, the three good fairies carry most of the film's comic business along with an increasingly intoxicated minstrel, but they play a central role in the story and don't feel as if they were just dropped in to provide a few easy laughs in the slow patches. The studio's animators famously loathed animating Briar Rose and her true love Prince Philip, but while not the most memorable characters in the Disney canon they're by no means as bland as their reputation even if they struggle to become more than mere ciphers and Philip is somewhat overshadowed by his trusty steed. But then any character would struggle to make much of an impression next to Maleficent, one of Disney's finest villains, who comes into her own in the stunning finale as she transforms into one of cinema's greatest dragons to prevent the charming prince from delivering his wakeup call: it's not just one of the most exciting scenes in animation but one of the most exciting in any movie, furiously paced, imaginatively staged and with a remarkable visual sense. Nothing else in the picture comes close to its power, but en route there's some striking imagery as well as a charming meeting cute musical number that adds lyrics to Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty Waltz (ironically this would prove the most expensive and difficult sequence in the picture). It may not have quite as much spark to its central characters as it could, but the parts that do work work so incredibly well and the film ends on such a remarkable high that it's easy to forgive its shortcomings.

Disney's 2008 BluRay release is truly extraordinary and is probably the best the film has looked since those first 70mm engagements in 1959 (and because Disney went back to the original negative, it's wider at full negative ratio of 2.55:1 than the 2.20:1 70mm version): the detail, clarity and perfect colour are far and away the best demonstration of how good the format can be not just for a classic film but any film. The extras package is rather splendid too, sadly losing the original audio commentary from the previous US DVD release but otherwise retaining most of that versions extras and adding to them. There are even two versions of the Disneyland special The Peter Tchaikovsky Story made to promote the film, one including Walt's instructions on how viewers could watch it in `stereo' by tuning in their wireless and using it as a speaker! There's even the original roadshow trailer emphasising the feature's 70mm format and stereophonic sound and the original Oscar-winning Scope short film that accompanied it on its first release, Grand Canyon. That said, the picture quality on the extras is variable, with the trailers in particular in need of a bit more attention.
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on 10 March 2009
This has amazing colour, extra footage at the sides that wouldn't fit on cinema screens when the film was released so it feels at times like you are watching something completely new, thinking I can't remember this bit then you realise its because theres more detail on screen.

Because its blue ray they can fit even more on each disc so the extras you get are fantastic, theres long nearly film length documentarys on the blue-ray (film) disc and then loads on a separate disc including walt disney world and the walt disney show that was broadcast every week in america when disney world was being constructed explaining rides etc. Pictures of the original artwork and the ideas behind it, things in the planning stages that weren't used - planning what characters will look like etc. . .interviews and comments by the original artists. . .it just goes on and on.

You also get a normal dvd. Whats the point of that..? Well if I want to watch it in bed or in another room to the blue-ray player if someones watching the tv I can. You don't get a free blue ray with a DVD do you so invest in a blue ray player if you haven't already. . .you're really missing out. . . .and get this!

10/10 for everything.
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on 28 May 2002
The film is visually stunning and beautiful which is why it was made in widescreen which was very advanced for 1959. So WHY WHY WHY is this DVD in full pan and scan screen when I know the movie was made in the widescreen format?? (It even says so in the 'making of' documentry) One of the reasons I bought this movie on DVD was to see it in widescreen. I wish i saved my money I've got the pan& scan VHS anyway. The extras though are quite good. The making of feature is very informative and the virtual galleries are very well made. The movie itself is brilliant thanks to the impressive art. (which we can only see half of)
Disney can You swap my DVD for a WIDESCREEN one!!
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on 29 December 2008
Figured I'ld add a review here of the actual box, as theres already a review for the film

This "Deluxe" edition comes in an exclusive book shaped box. Which is possibly the best packaging effort I've seen Disney manage in a while. The box is embossed in various places to enhance the details. With lashings of gold paint and colour

Inside the box is a copy of 2 disc set. It's exactly the same as the normal retail copy. The real jewel of this set is the book also contained within.

While Jungle Book and 101 Dalmatians had similar sets, their books were mostly picture based and didn't really have much to say. The book in sleeping beauty is more informative about the film and the history of the story, with plenty exclusive concept art and stories about the films development

The DVD as stated already is the same as the normal new retail release but if you havent got it yet or have the 2003 release this is still worth considering, as it has a few additional extras such as an improved DVD commentary and a better restoration.

Overall a great set with some care given to details and a lot of interesting features about the original film, if only Disney could show this amount of love to it's home releases more often
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