Sleeping Beauty: A Moving Piece Of Art

As I just wrote a review of Maleficent, the remake of the 1959 Disney film ‘Sleeping Beauty’ I thought I would write a post about my thoughts on the original.

First of all, I would have to say that this is probably one of my all time favourite Disney movies and this is, in my eyes, because it seems to literally be a moving piece of art. By This, I do not mean that other hand animated Disney films aren’t, but this one just seems to stand out to me as one of their art driven ones.

Disney's Sleeping Beauty
The detail in the backgrounds is absolutely phenomenal!

Another reason I really love this movie, is because of the elegant gothic style that no other Disney movie has and makes it stand out. Under the amazing art direction of Eyvind Earle, all the characters and backgrounds have a strong Gothic flavour with a 1950s modern twist that makes them so memorable.

I think that this film can be split into two clear parts. These are the animated characters and the beautiful backgrounds. Another huge and defining part of the film is the use of Tchaikovsky’s score as the soundtrack to the film. This to me seems to define the film and really sets it apart, as it seems more mature than the other films were the score was written separately.

However, to start of with the backgrounds. To me, it is really obvious how much work and detail was put into first styling it and then painting all the detail.  It is hard just to think how much time it would take to paint all the detail especially in Eyvind Earle’s incredibly detailed style. There is a board which he did showing how he layered loads of layers of painted to create the trees and bushes.

The backgrounds in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty are just so sophisticated and beautiful that they are basically works of art on their own. The love, time and effort put into creating these masterpieces is just exceptional.

Another thing I love about them is the way they are inspired by medieval art. Just like the Pre-Raphaelites were clearly creating a medieval look, but with just enough modern depth and perspective to make it realistic and not enough to make it completely real. Personally I think that the backgrounds set the film above any other animated classic by its backgrounds alone.

The next part I would like to focus on are the beautifully animated characters. Out of all the characters, my favourite is definitely Maleficent. She just has so much style and the voice, Eleanor Audley, is so incredible and strong.

What I particularly like with these characters is that they have been designed to fit in with the backgrounds. For example, they all have strong veritical lines and a more pointy look than is commonly found in Disney’s character design.

Again, it is almost impossible to think that for each second that goes past 24 frames pass your eye meaning that 24 cells had to be drawn of each character for just one second of film!

What was your favourite part of this epic piece of moving art? Feel free to tell me in the comments.


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