Sleeping Beauty (1959) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

After the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937) and Cinderella (1950), Walt Disney decided to return to the fairy tale by choosing to adapt Sleeping Beauty as an animated feature. This film would be different, though, because Walt Disney himself did not want to simply repeat his previous efforts. Using the phrase, “A Moving Illustration,” Disney’s goal was to create a film that consisted of opulence and majesty when it comes to its artwork. Indeed, Disney produced of the greatest animated features ever made that contains pure cinematic beauty.

A Toast

This is one of the most sophisticated Disney films ever made. The visual design is much like the medieval and Gothic art that was made during the time period in which this film is set. Part of the reason for this were the beautiful layouts and backgrounds that Eyvind Earle designed in order to make animation feel more artistic rather than conventional. The final result is an animated feature that is purely aesthetic. Sleeping Beauty also features what is perhaps the greatest Disney villain of all time- Maleficent. Her name itself is a portmanteau of the words “malevolent” and “magnificent,” and those two adjectives perfectly describe “The Mistress of All Evil.” She is so iconic that she had her own movie in 2014 fifty-five years later! Many young girls also admire the beautiful Princess Aurora, and the adaptation of Peter Tchaikovsky’s classical ballet score earned the film its only Academy Award nomination. Nevertheless, Sleeping Beauty will always maintain its timelessness as one of the greatest Disney films ever produced.


Sleeping Beauty was advertised as “six years in the making.” It also premiered alongside epic films like Ben-Hur in 1959. In spite of its rough opening in January that year, Sleeping Beauty still had financial success by being the year’s second-highest grossing film (right behind Ben-Hur!) There have been nearly sixty films since this film premiered in 1959 (as of 2017), but Sleeping Beauty will always remain one of Disney’s crowning achievements because of his unique vision of what the overall design of an animated feature could look like.

Sleeping Beauty (1959) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time Maleficent uses her staff for wicked reasons

Take a Drink: every time Maleficent’s pet raven (named Diablo) squawks very annoyingly

Drink a Shot: each time Flora and Merryweather use their wands to change Princess Aurora’s dress pink and blue

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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