The plot of the old European fairy tale The Sleeping Beauty was retold by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm and Vasily Zhukovsky in their own way. Perrault’s version is considered classical, that is why his name appears on the playbill of The Sleeping Beauty ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. After the premiere of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890, critics called the stage design "luxurious", which is also true of the modern versions of the ballet. The fairy tale about love overcoming all the magic spells has inspired filmmakers more than once. Here, we have collected popular film adaptations with a plot that is the closest to the classic.
Sleeping Beauty, USA (1959)
Walt Disney originally planned this animated film adaptation to be unique in terms of animation techniques. He wanted the characters to appear "as real as possible, near flesh-and-blood", and Aurora did not at all resemble Cinderella and Snow White created earlier by the Walt Disney studio.
In this cartoon, they kept only three of the seven good fairies and called the evil fairy Carabosse Maleficent. But the main difference between the plot and the original fairy tale was that Aurora didn’t know about her noble origin and lived in the woods with fairies under the name Rose.
The musical score for the cartoon was created by George Bruns based on Tchaikovsky's music for The Sleeping Beauty ballet, and the two title songs, I Wonder and Once Upon a Dream, were based on the allegro waltz. The cartoon’s soundtrack was nominated for an Oscar in 1960.
Sleeping Beauty, USSR (1964)
This ballet film was produced at the Lenfilm studio by director Apollinari Dudko and director-choreographer Konstantin Sergeev. The roles, which are also ballet parts, were performed by soloists and dancers of the ballet troupe of the Mariinsky Theater, as well as by students of the Vaganova School. The leads were played by Alla Sizova and Yuri Soloviev, the evil fairy Carabosse - by Natalia Dudinskaya, although in modern productions this part is for men. The choreography of the 1952 ballet was preserved in the film. Conditions of the cinema pavilion allowed to create great scenography with much attention to detail: for example, the prince appeared in the frame on a real white horse.
How to Wake a Princess, Czechoslovakia (1978)
In Soviet times, many noteworthy fairy tale movies were filmed in Czechoslovakia, and they are still loved by the Russian audience today. One of them is How to Wake a Princess, a film by Vaclav Vorlicek, director of the famous Three Wishes for Cinderella.
The main character Ruzenka - “sleeping beauty” in Czech is “sipkova ruzenka” - was played by the young blonde beauty Maria Horakova. This role still remains the main one in her career.
The movie is nice to watch and to listen to — it recreates the spectacular atmosphere of Renaissance Europe to the music of the famous composer Karel Svoboda.
Sleeping Beauty, Germany/Italy/Czechoslovakia (1989)
11 years later, Sleeping Beauty was filmed by another Czechoslovak director, Stanislav Parnitsky. Dancer Dana Dinkova made her debut in the role of the princess, and the prince was played by Gedeon Burkhard, the German cinema star, well known to the audience from the TV series Inspector Rex. Gedeon studied at the Munich Ballet Academy and probably could someday become a prince in the ballet production of Sleeping Beauty, but he became one in the movie of the same name and preferred an acting career. Actress Milena Dvorska, who played the nanny, earlier had played the queen in the movie How to Wake the Princess.
The film is very colorful but somewhat overloaded with plot and visual details. However, children often like this.
Maleficent, USA (2014)
A feature film by the Walt Disney film company loosely interprets the plot of their own 1959 cartoon. This is a kind of plot-shifter, where good and evil change places, telling you not to believe the fairy tales. The fairy Maleficent, played by Angelina Jolie, is the leader of all the good creatures living in the Moors. As in the original story, she casts a spell on the princess played by Elle Fanning. But in this Sleeping Beauty adaptation, they give the backstory and explain to the audience, why the fairy got angry.
Invented by Disney animators, the appearance of Maleficent in the film is very sophisticated and unexpectedly winged. Images of the princess are delicate and graceful. For its beautiful costumes, the movie fairy tale was nominated for an Oscar in 2015; and in 2019, a sequel of the story was released, that is Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
Critics saw in this script both "radical feminism" and "heretical dualism", which didn’t prevent the film adaptation from becoming a favorite of viewers around the world.
What film adaptations of the Sleeping Beauty do you remember?