Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Synopsis: Baby Princess Aurora is cursed by evil witch lord Maleficent that if she touches the spindle of a spinning wheel before sunset on her 16th birthday, she’s DEAD! So three good fairies raise the kid in the woods, then on her 16th birthday, all hell breaks loose.
Would you be able to sit through it?: I guess, but unless you’ve loved this movie since you were little, you’ll probably be questioning the plot most of the time.
Any scary/violent parts?: Maleficent is scary by herself, but the ending gets pretty intense when she hypnotizes Aurora and makes her touch the spindle, reveals her “dead” body to the fairies, then unleashes “all the powers of HELL!!!!” and turns into a vicious dragon, who gets stabbed in the chest, complete with blood. It’s a little much.
Anything that will screw up your kid’s head?: A witch wishing death on a baby, the word “HELL!!!” being shouted, a dragon’s bloody wound, one character gets hammered on wine, and Aurora’s dad looks like a white pimp from 1973.
Any lessons to be learned?: Uhhhhhhhh… hmmmmmm…….. not really… There truly doesn’t seem to be any moral to this story.
Recommended age: 8. Despite the fairies and some cute animals, this one is kind of grown up.
Rent it, buy it or avoid it?: Rent. I’ve never seen Sleeping Beauty before so I’m looking at this brand new without the nostalgia factor getting in the way, and from the perspective of a father concerned with what his daughter watches. I actually didn’t really care for this one. It’s kind of scary and violent. My daughter was cringing when the dragon appeared. Aurora is a horrible role model. She’s completely useless and really barely in the movie. She picks berries in the forest and plays with animals, sings, then meets the prince (who she just thinks is some dude) and falls in love after 3 minutes, then gets extremely upset when she finds out she’s a princess and she’s already betrothed and can’t marry the dude she met just now for 3 minutes, then goes to the castle, gets hypnotized, touches the spindle and falls asleep until the prince saves her. I’d definitely say she’s more useless than Cinderella. This movie is really about the three good fairies who look after Aurora, and most of the runtime is them making a cake and a dress, and Aurora and Phillip’s dad-kings talking wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too long about their impending marriage (the scene where the court servant keeps drinking wine and gets plastered).
Also, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding Maleficent’s curse. First of all, she curses baby Aurora then announces to everyone exactly what the curse was, that if she touched the spindle of a spinning wheel before sunset on her 16th birthday she’d die. Which is very convoluted, but whatever. So was the curse only in effect on her 16th birthday, or could she have died after touching a spindle at any point in her life up to her 16th birthday? It has to be the latter, because otherwise why hide her away, right? And they hide her in the woods for 16-g-d-years and the king and queen never get to see their daughter instead of keeping her safe at the castle and explaining the spindle thing to her and keeping her away from them? And how does anyone in the kingdom have clothes if all the spinning wheels are destroyed? And why do the fairies get so careless on the day of her 16th birthday? And why didn’t they wait until the next day to bring her back and protect her? Instead, they bring her back before sundown, then AT SUNDOWN they LEAVE HER ALONE in her room????? The fairies should have locked themselves in a room with her with 100 armed guards and put iron gloves on her hands and wrapped her up like a mummy. Why didn’t they hunt Maleficent down in those 16 years? What they couldn’t defeat her pig army from Return of the Jedi? And of course, Maleficent explains the entire curse situation to Prince Phillip while he’s captured and even tells him exactly how to break the curse. So she’s like a horrible Bond villain. And it’s never really clear why she wants Aurora dead so badly. Just because she’s evil, I guess?
Bottom line, I think this one is so well-liked because for several years it was just this, Cinderella and Snow White as far as fairy tale princess movies go. Aurora was actually the last Disney princess for 30 years until Ariel swam along in 1989. So for an entire generation of girls, this was it. It looks great, and there are good action scenes, there are some genuinely funny moments with the fairies (e.g., the fairies are making a dress for Aurora, Merryweather says, “It looks awful” and Flora says, “That’s because it’s on you, dear.”), and “Once Upon a Dream” is one of the best Disney songs, but Aurora is not a princess to look up to, in my opinion. It’s a classic movie and your little girl will want to watch it to catch up on every princess movie, but there are much better role models for them these days.
Score: 6 spindles of death (out of 10)
My Daughter’s Review: [HAPPY CLAPPING WHEN AURORA WAKES UP.]