Sleeping Beauty (1959)

It’s truly amazing how, even when you remember a story perfectly, you can perceive it differently as an adult.

I knew exactly what I was getting into when I began watching Sleeping Beauty.  Being a “Disney Princess” movie, I had seen it countless times as a child, and essentially knew it by heart.  I could close my eyes and envision just about the entire movie, and yet my perception while watching it as an adult has completely changed my opinion of the story.

The tale of Sleeping Beauty is as such: cursed by the evil fairy Maleficent, Princess Aurora is doomed to prick her finger on a spinning needle before her 16th birthday, to be plunged into an endless sleep that can only be broken by true love’s kiss.  Fearful for the young girl, the three good fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merriwether, whisk the princess away to live with them in a remote cottage in the middle of the forest, with no knowledge of who she is or what she has been cursed with.

We then fast forward sixteen years to Aurora’s birthday, where we see the fairies shooing her out of the cottage to go pick berries so that they may plan a surprise party for her.  While out and about Aurora meets a handsome young man and apparently falls head over heels in love with him in the span of five minutes.  She returns to the cottage, learns her true identity, and ventures back to the castle where she may claim her birthright.  She pricks her finger, and at this point is basically removed from the film, remaining in a coma until the end scene in which her handsome prince kisses her awake.

There isn’t much to discuss about Aurora. After all, she’s out cold for a good part of the film.  Instead, let’s discuss the approximate ten-thousand ways the entire finger-pricking incident could have been prevented, all with a little common sense:

    1. Just tell Aurora about the curse

Instead of whisking her away to some random location and allowing her to live in blissful ignorance, why not just explain to Aurora that she ought to stay away from pointy objects? It would certainly be easier than having to make up all of these ridiculous stories and excuses as to why she can’t venture far.

2.  Get the fairies to act just a little more mature

Literally the only reason Maleficent discovers where Aurora’s been hiding all these years is because Flora and Merriwether have to act like children and start shooting spells all over the place trying to alter the color of the dress.  This negligence, especially given how careful they were for the past sixteen years, was completely preventable.  Then again, it’s not the last time that they’ll be neglectful.

3.  Don’t leave Aurora alone in the 11th hour. Period.

The fairies have been safeguarding this girl for SIXTEEN YEARS, yet for some reason they choose the last second to leave her alone in a tower, where the evil Maleficent can easily gain access to her.  Because she doesn’t know to be on the lookout for a glowing spinning wheel of death, she is easily put into a trance and pricks her finger, falling into a deep sleep.  Had the fairies simply stayed with her, this probably could have been prevented.

As a bonus in the category “Why did they do that?!”, How about Maleficent’s poor decisions?

4.  Why does Maleficent fight Prince Phillip as a dragon?!

Other than the fact that it’s a visually striking scene, why does Maleficent choose to fight Phillip as a dragon, rather than just casting a spell over him?  She’s clearly powerful enough to cast a spell that would  confuse Phillip or cause him to forget about Aurora, so why doesn’t she?  Quite frankly, it’s so that this exact scene can occur and Phillip can slay the beast and emerge triumphant.

The film is essentially a series of irrational decisions included to further the plot.  That being said, I still like this movie. Maybe it’s the absurdity of the poor decisions throughout, or the engaging visuals of all the magic.  Whatever it is, I still enjoy this movie, and think it’s more than a fair example of the magic Disney can create with their animations.

Besides, the cake-making scene remains, to this day, one of my favorite Disney scenes.

If only making a cake was this easy in real life.

-Jess

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