Sleeping Beauty (Disney film)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"From this slumber, you shall wake, when True Love's Kiss, the spell shall break."

In ageless sleep, she finds repose...

Entry #16 of the Disney Animated Canon, Disney made the Fairy Tale Sleeping Beauty into a movie in 1959, based loosely on the Brothers Grimm's story, Briar Rose. The title comes from Perrault's La Belle aux bois dormant (The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood). By a bit of contortion, they manage to come up with a reason for calling the heroine both Aurora and Briar Rose (the French and German versions of her name rendered into English).

Having already adapted two similar Fairy Tales, the biggest challenge story-wise was how to make the plot different without recycling too many elements. Walt wanted the story to be more streamlined, focusing on the central plot about the two lovers without the numerous side plots involving minor characters like dwarves or mice. Technically, the final film is rather streamlined with one major plot... because the animators had so much fun fleshing out the Three Good Fairies that the film completely unintentionally became a Perspective Flip about the efforts of three heroines to rescue the sleeping beauty and her prince from an evil witch. And if Walt's original plan had been followed, the fairies would have been Single Minded Triplets with no distinctive personalities.[1]

Also one of the movies to feature in the Kingdom Hearts series, where Maleficent takes the role of the leader of the Disney Villains and serves as a primary antagonist in the first game. (Oh, and Aurora appears as one of the Princesses of Heart.) While she never quite achieves that level of prominence again, she continues to play a supporting role in the series, while the faeries appear as a One-Scene Wonder in Kingdom Hearts II. The prequel Birth By Sleep introduces an entire world themed after the movie. And in 2014, Disney released a live-action film starring Angelina Jolie called Maleficent, which retells the story from ... another point of view.

The 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty was named to the National Film Registry in 2019.

Tropes used in Sleeping Beauty (Disney film) include:
  • Adipose Rex: King Hubert.
  • All Up to You: The Three Good Fairies are arguably an inversion, as they are constantly the heroines who do the saving, despite being treated as if they were sidekicks.
  • Anachronism Stew: During the forest scene and the finale, Aurora and Phillip dance the waltz. But the film takes place in the 14th century, and the waltz wasn't invented until the 18th century.
  • Ascended Extra: An interpretation of how the fairies are in this work. In the original fairy tale, the good fairies just serve to "build up" the princess, while the bad fairy is a Diabolus Ex Machina.
  • Badass: Maleficent.
  • Badass Normal: Prince Phillip.
  • Big Eater: Again, King Hubert.
  • Big Entrance: Maleficient, as seen here.
  • Bound and Gagged: Phillip is ambushed by Maleficent's goons.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: The pink/red, green and blue fairies.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Three Good Fairies, as mentioned above. They have trouble deciding with Aurora's dress though.
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: When the three good fairies free Phillip.
  • Cut Song: A couple demos of songs for the three fairies are out there.
  • Dance of Romance: The first time Aurora meets Phillip is when he sneaks up behind her and joins in on her "I Want" Song.
  • Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday: While the curse in this adaptation of Sleeping Beauty has a 16-year time period to be fulfilled instead of a certain day, the curse was fulfilled on Aurora's 16th birthday, just moments before its time was up.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: The raven.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Merryweather, and Maleficent.
  • Development Hell: Was in the works for almost all of the 1950s with production starting in 1951 and being released in 1959. In that time, it became a financial behemoth which didn't make its cost back despite being the second-highest grossing movie of the year.
    • For that matter, Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland had visitors walking past a set of dioramas of scenes from the movie in 1957, and the movie was still two years off.
  • Disney Princess
  • Disney Villain Death: If falling after being stabbed through the heart counts.
  • Disneyfication: One of the most positive examples of this trope, as most tellings of the original tale are considered way too Squick-worthy.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: She curses the princess to die because she was not invited to the christening. She spends the next sixteen years obsessing over her revenge being enacted.
  • The Ditz: Fauna doesn't focus as much at the drama at hand as her sisters; she also doesn't comprehend, after sixteen years living with and as a human, that eggshells probably won't taste good in cake.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Despite apparently having access to shoes, Aurora prefers to go barefoot when she ventures into the forest.
  • Draconic Demon: During the film's climax, Maleficent goes from hauntingly beautiful dark fairy to a monstrous dragon, and her transformation is heralded by the queen mother of badass Disney villain quotes: "Now shall you deal with me, O Prince, and all the powers of Hell!"
  • Drunken Song: SKUMPS!
  • Dude in Distress: Prince Phillip, needs to be rescued by the Three Fairies before they take him to save Aurora.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma: Most famous example, along with Snow White. Justified though since Merryweather outright states that a kiss is the only way to break the spell.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The villainess is too smart to be Hoist By Her Own Petard, so in an unusual twist for a Disney film, the hero has to actually confront her directly.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:

Merryweather: What won't [Maleficent] expect? She knows everything.
Fauna: Oh, but she doesn't, dear. Maleficent doesn't know anything about love, or kindness, or the joy of helping others... You know, sometimes I don't think she's really very happy.

Maleficent: What a pity Prince Phillip can't be here to enjoy the celebration. Come, we must go to the dungeon and cheer him up.

  • Evil Is Petty: All this started because Maleficent wasn't invited to a party! See For the Evulz below.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Maleficent.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Maleficent's domain, the Forbidden Mountain.
  • Excessive Evil Eyeshadow: Maleficent, although it could be simply the shadow of her brow, since it doesn't appear on her eyelids.
  • Failed a Spot Check: It's very clear that the Three Fairies just try their darndest to cover up their magic within the cottage and do cover up every nook and cranny... except the fireplace.
  • For the Evulz: Why does Maleficent want to kill Aurora? Not being invited to a party is merely her "justification".
  • Freudian Trio:
    • Flora - Superego
    • Fauna - Ego
    • Merryweather - Id
  • Friend to All Living Things: Aurora. So much that her animal friends steal a cape, hat and boots and form a scarecrow prince to cheer her up.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Aversion. They don't specifically say that it's wine -- only that it's been preserved for sixteen years. But the jester who drinks the most in that scene clearly gets drunk off of his ass, complete with Alcohol Hic.
  • Girl in the Tower
  • Hair of Gold: Part of the gift of beauty.
  • Has Two Mommies: Aurora has both a biological mother and the three fairy godmothers who raised her, though she refers to them as her aunts.
  • The Hedge of Thorns: Maleficent causes thorns to grow around Stefan's castle to stop Phillip.
  • Heroic BSOD: After the fairies tell Aurora that she is to be married to someone else and she realizes that she can never see the young man she loves again, before telling her that she's also a princess when she has believed herself to be a mere peasant girl named Briar Rose and that there's suddenly a kingdom she'll be in charge of one day, Aurora heartbrokenly breaks into tears and runs to her room crying. The scene where she is hypnotized by Maleficent's spell and moves very slowly to the top of the tower where the spinning wheel stands also gives off the impression that Maleficent is taking desperate measures to make sure that Aurora will touch the spindle ("Touch the spindle! Touch it, I say!")… which would also imply that Aurora was overcome with so much stress at leaving everything she has ever known behind that she willingly allowed herself to fall under Maleficent's control.
  • High Collar of Doom: Maleficent.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Averted. Notable in that this is a Disney Movie, which are usually the kings of this trope.
  • Hollywood Costuming: The movie is explicitly stated to take place in the 14th century, yet Aurora's dress has a neckline like dresses in the decade when the movie was made. Her mother's gown is more period accurate.
  • Hollywood Kiss: Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip. But of course.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: Merryweather's magic when she finally dispatches the raven. Also, the Sword of Truth.
  • Horned Humanoid: Maleficent's hat invokes horns, but it's difficult to tell if she actually has them.
  • Horsing Around: The Prince's horse who, until the climactic scene, was very stubborn and had to be bribed by carrots to do his master's bidding, and even then the horse bungles it and charges straight into a puddle.
  • Hypnotize the Princess: When the glowing green orb appears in Aurora's bedroom as she cries, the light makes her suddenly stiffen and look up. Her eyes are glazed, and she stands up very fluidly, following the orb single-mindedly. When the fairies call out to her to not touch anything, it momentarily breaks the spell, before Maleficent's voice lulls her back in, and she touches the spinning wheel's spindle.
  • I Want Grandkids: Strongly implied with King Hubert.
  • "I Want" Song: "I Wonder", in which Briar Rose ponders why "each little bird has a someone to sing to" and hoping someone will bring a love song to her.
  • The Ingenue: Aurora, whose only companions for sixteen years are the fairies (who are ignorant in all things human) and the forest animals.
  • Ink Suit Actor: Verna Felton as Flora, Disney's favorite lady for matronly comedic women.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons
  • Inter Class Romance: It's set up to be this, but it turns out that the beautiful peasant girl Phillip sees in the forest is the princess to whom he's betrothed.
  • Knight in Shining Armour: The climax of the movie is a battle with Prince Philip up against Maleficent to save Princess Aurora.
  • Lean and Mean: Maleficent.
  • Lethal Chef: Fauna. She puts candles on the cake before she bakes it. It's pretty obvious she hasn't cooked the entire sixteen years they've had Briar Rose.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Merryweather attacking the raven after she's finally fed up. After missing with her first couple shots, Merryweather adjusts her gown, and you know shit's about to kick up a notch.
  • Love At First Note
  • Love At First Sight: The prince and princess actually meet before the Dude, She's Like, in a Coma True Love's Kiss in this version, but the only time they spend together is singing a song and dancing in a forest. (Technically, they "met" when they were young. Aurora was just a baby; Phillip wasn't older than four or five, but they don't realize it until the end.) The lovers Hand Wave this by claiming they met "once upon a dream".
  • Made of Evil: It's implied Maleficent is this.
  • Meaningful Name: Maleficent is a play on the words malevolent and magnificent. A fitting name for the Mistress of All Evil.
  • The Middle Ages: "After all, this is the fourteenth century."
  • Missing Mom: Phillip's mother is never seen or mentioned, and presumably is dead prior to the movie. Averted by Aurora, who is one of the only Disney protagonists whose parents are both alive for the entire film.
  • Modest Royalty: Speaking objectively, Aurora's gown is one of the most understated of all the Disney dresses. It's quite simple compared to the gowns of the courtiers (and her mother), as well.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Phillip and his fangirls are very fortunate that Disney animators have apparently come a long way since the days of Snow White when Prince Charming's role was deliberately shortened because they weren't very good at drawing human males.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Malefic" productive of evil; malign; doing harm; baneful. "-ent" (suffix) characterized in serving of. Maleficent also counts as a Meaningful are most names to flee from. Then there's her raven, Diablo.
  • Natural Spotlight: On Aurora before she is woken up.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The fairies stopped up every nook and cranny except for the fireplace when they perform magic for the fist time in years. Then Flora and Merryweather get into a magical dispute over the color of Aurora's dress. Guess how Maleficent discovers the whereabouts of Aurora. Missing the fireplace is how Maleficent manages to get a hold of Aurora a second time, too: by enchanting it to open up into a stairwell and hypnotizing her into pricking her finger.
  • No Body Left Behind: Dragon!Maleficent falls down a cliff. When the sword is shown again, it is stabbing only a cloak.
  • No Name Given: Aurora's mother. Her father is King Stefan, but her mother is only ever referred to as "the Queen". Disney fans generally call her "Leah", after a name given to her in one of the children's books written about the movie.
    • Not only is the character never given a name in the film, but the Disney archives for some reason have absolutely no record of the name of the actress who provided the Queen's voice!
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Prince Phillip has a horse, Maleficent has her raven familiar Diablo, Aurora has various miscellaneous woodland creatures.
    • Also, Maleficent's goons.
  • Obviously Evil: Maleficent. Just look at all the evil tropes she's associated with (Evil Eyebrows, Evil Tower of Ominousness, Lean and Mean, etc.). Her very name has "mal" (evil) in it.
  • Oh Crap:
    • Phillip's horse has this reaction (with whinnying accompaniment) at one point during the battle with Maleficent (before the fairies bail him out).
    • Phillip looks horrified after Maleficent's One-Winged Angel transformation.
  • One-Winged Angel: One of the most famous examples. Maleficent's huge-ass dragon form is one of the first things that comes to mind when many think of this trope. And she returns as this in her boss fight in Kingdom Hearts. It's famous enough to have been invoked in a later Disney film, Enchanted, where the sorceress villain also turns into a dragon at the climax. Disney Theme Parks occasionally have skits where Maleficent appears and turns into a dragon.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. Maleficent herself is supposed to be a wicked fairy, or at least was based on the character of the Thirteenth Fairy.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Aurora and Phillip do come to really like each other despite the engagement.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Now shall you deal with me, o prince, and all the powers of Hell!" How much of a precision strike was this? The next time anyone said that word in a Disney animated production was thirty five years later... In the weekday afternoon slot, in the pilot episode of Gargoyles.
  • Princess Classic: Flora's and Fauna's gifts (and possibly the Maryweather's had she not been interrupted) were even related to this trope.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Played with. Aurora never chooses her own gown, but Flora and Merryweather fight over what color it should be.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Much of the soundtrack of the movie is the music to Tchaikovsky's ballet of Sleeping Beauty. The song "Once Upon a Dream" was adding lyrics to the Waltz.
  • Putting a Hand Over His Mouth: Flora shushes the other fairies this way. A goon also does this to Phillip for a second.
  • Ravens and Crows: Maleficent's pet raven Diablo who is revealed to be smarter than the rest of Maleficent's goons.
  • Rebellious Princess: Downplayed with Aurora. She doesn't throw a tantrum, whine, complain, or bitch her "aunts" out like Ariel, Jasmine, or Pocahontas might after finally learning that she is a princess and will be subject to an Arranged Marriage, and instead goes back to the kingdom to meet the parents that she has never seen and see the castle where she was born even when it's clear that she doesn't want to. However, the fact that she ultimately complies with their wishes still doesn't stop Aurora from resisting the idea as much as she can by running to her room and crying for a while.
  • Rebel Prince: Phillip. Although apparently not adverse to ruling, he does believe he has the right to marry the girl he loves.
  • Revenge SVP: Maleficent's motivation.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The prince, although the fairies do most of the work.
  • Running Gag: Flora and Merryweather's bickering over Aurora's dress being pink or blue, which happens in all three acts of the movie.
  • Scaled Up: Maleficent turns into a dragon.
  • Scenery Porn: It was made in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process, and the filmmakers were up to the challenge of filling the space, and so had the backgrounds painted in exquisite detail by artist Eyvind Earle. This trope and Everything's Better with Princesses are likely the reasons it was the first cel-animated Disney title to get a Blu-Ray Disc release.
  • Shallow Love Interest: Aurora and Phillip. Although there are some traits to be gleaned, they're never important or alluded to for more than a line or two.
  • Sickly Green Glow: Maleficent has green eyes and a green orb atop her staff. Her flames are also green. Her skin is green, although a very pale green--mostly due to coloring errors in the film, since her skin was supposed to be white.
  • Spell Blade: How the fairies give Prince Phillip a Sword of Truth and a Shield of Virtue to fight Maleficent. They even add an extra incantation before the final blow.
  • Spot of Tea: The Three Fairies have one as they make their plans.
  • Storybook Opening
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Aurora bears a strong resemblance to her mother.
  • Supernatural Aid: The fairies give Prince Phillip a Sword of Truth and a Shield of Virtue to fight Maleficent. They even add an extra incantation before the final blow.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: It is Maleficent's much smarter raven that finds Aurora, rather than her obviously idiotic mooks. They spend sixteen years looking "in every cradle" -- for a princess they imagine to still be an infant. They didn't appear to have even searched the forest.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: One of the most iconic instances of the trope when Flora enchants it to kill Maleficent. Justified by the spell Flora cast on it to fly straight and hit exactly where it counted.
  • To the Pain: Arguably, Malificent's most evil moment in the film is when she explains to a captured Prince Phillip exactly how she's going to ensure that he doesn't get a happy ending. Killing him outright would've been kinder.
  • True Love's Kiss: This appears in many Disney movies, but this particular kiss is the Trope Namer.
  • True-Blue Femininity: The gown alternates due to the fairies having a color war. It does spend most of the time in this color.
  • Violet Eyes: Aurora. In close-ups her eye color is visible, but for the rest of the time her eyes are just plain Black Eyes.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Fauna.

Fauna: Perhaps if we reason with her...
Flora: Reason?!
Merryweather: With Maleficent?!
Fauna: Well, she can't be all bad.
Flora: Oh, yes, she can!

  1. This is quite ironic, considering that it was Walt Disney himself who pushed for the dwarfs in Snow White to have distinct personalities.