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Sleeping Beauty – Diamond Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Sleeping Beauty ThumbDisney is bringing back Sleeping Beauty with a new Diamond Edition.  You’ll remember it was previously released in a 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition back in 2008.  That version was also the first of their animated fairy tale films of any era to be released on Blu-ray.  That was back during my last year of doing Quality Control for Blu-ray and DVD, and that release was a big deal as Disney was trying their best to squeeze everything possible out of the format even back then.  There were many a sleepless nights over Sleeping Beauty.  But, in the end, they released a pretty fantastic product.  This new edition isn’t quite as elaborate as the previous one, but does provide most of the essentials and brings some new bonus features to the table as well as foreign audio tracks that weren’t available before.   To get it out of the way, and make a long story short before we start the review; if you own the Platinum Edition of Sleeping Beauty, hang on to it.

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Film 

The film adapts the fairy tale of Princess Aurora who on the day of her christening is cursed by the evil Maleficent.  On her 16th birthday, she is doomed to prick her finger on spindle of a spinning wheel and die.  Luckily one of the fairies still has a blessing to give and makes sure that its deep slumber and not death that befalls Aurora as she is unable to completely reverse the curse.  Aurora is sent into hiding with the fairies, 16 years go by and all looks safe and sound on her birthday.  But, Maleficent is not to be fooled and puts Aurora in a trance and leads her to the vile spindle.  She falls into a deep slumber and its only up to true love’s first kiss to break the spell and set her free.

Sleeping Beauty was not the “classic” film its looked back upon as today when it first came out.  In fact it was viewed as a disappointment financially and critically.  If Walt Disney hadn’t been building Disney Land while at the same time producing this movie, Aurora’s castle might not have been the iconic representation of the theme park that it is today.  During its first release, the film did not recoup its budget back.  It was also the highest budgeted film Disney had put out.  It was their 16th animated feature.  The film also effectively killed their fairy tale adaptations as well.  There wouldn’t be another one from Disney for another 30 years when The Little Mermaid was released.  Hard to think of that nowadays, as Sleeping Beauty is considered not only one of the finest Disney movies ever, but one of the best animated films every made.  With subsequent revivals, rereleases and reassessments the film gained a bigger fan base and a larger respect.  I suppose, for a Disney animated feature, for a while after it came out this could possibly be considered to have cult status.

Personally, Sleeping Beauty is one of the classic Disney animated features that I never really kept close by growing up.  My family owned the VHS, but it was one I only watched a handful of times, unlike some of the others that my sister and I would wear out.  Its not a long film by any means (around 75 minutes), but its one that seems to have its concept and story stretched about as thin as its able to.  The film is patient and does take a bit to develop its characters, but there are many moments that do feel a little long or padded.  However, and especially on Blu-ray, it boasts a classic animation style that at the same time you can get lost in and enjoy the look of the characters and the environments they occupy.  For me, I always dug anything to do with Maleficent, the creek cauldrons, castles and the dragon in the film more than just hanging out with the fairies or singing with the animals in the woods.  And it does take a while to get to that meaty, I suppose “boy friendly” material.

Any way you spin it, Sleeping Beauty is still a classic and definitely is a family fairy tale to be enjoyed by all.  Even though some might poke fun at the dated “true love comes in the form of an arranged marriage” message of the film, it feels as if even back then they realized it was a little hokey.  There are scenes to try and spruce of that they was more to that between Aurora and Phillip and to develop something before her rescue.  The animation really sparkles in the transfer (same as the 2008 edition) and the film sounds the best it may ever have.  Its hard not to fall for these vintage Disney animated fair tales, and Sleeping Beauty really is no exception.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1

Clarity/Detail:  For those wondering, it has been confirmed at many other places that this is indeed the same video transfer as the 2008 Platinum Edition.  Still, this pictures is incredibly impressive, displaying the film in its most accurate aspect ratio to date.  The 2.55:1 frame really opens it up, showcasing detail and picture that has never been seen in years and some of it Disney states hasn’t been seen theatrically ever.

Depth:  Impressively for hand drawn animation of yesteryear, there is a great deal of space that seems to appear between character and background, even if this is flat in nature.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and inky.  Impressively no crushing to be found either.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are vibrant and pop without getting too crazy.  This looks very true to the age of Technicolor.

Flesh Tones:  N/A

Noise/Artifacts:  None.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English Original Stereo Theatrical Mix, French 7.1 DTS-HD High Resolution, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian

Dynamics:  The English audio options are the same provided on the previous release.  However, this release adds foreign language tracks not available on the previous edition.  The 7.1 track is exquisite and really gives the movie a full experience with a big and detailed sound.  There are moments and such that have always been present in the mix, but now are clean and clear.

Low Frequency Extension:  A lot of this is used for the music in the film, but there are some effect moments that amplify with subwoofer accompaniment.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The rear speakers are primarily reserved for ambient sounds and the score.  The front speakers get plenty of interplay and volumes and sounds are rightly placed according to actions on screen.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Crisp and clean.  Some areas sound like some fresh sound stage work.

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Extras 

Sleeping Beauty – Diamond Edition comes with a DVD copy and Digital Copy of the film.  There are some new extras, but unfortunately a good sizable chunk from the Platinum Edition have been removed.  Some fat has been trimmed, but some quality has gone away as well.  However, there is still a good deal of knowledge in the bonus material that remains.

Deleted/Alternate Scenes – These are all storyboard photos with voice over accompaniment.

  • The Curse Is Fulfilled (HD, 2:58)
  • The Arrival Of Maleficent (HD, 1:58)
  • The Parade (HD, 7:48)

Once Upon A Parade (HD, 8:49) – Modern Family‘s Sarah Hyland stars in this short about putting Maleficent in the Disney parade.

The Art Of Evil: Generations Of Disney Villains (HD, 9:49) – A little feature on the animation and creation of classic Disney villains.

@DisneyAnimation: Artists In Motion (HD, 4:27) – A short piece on an artists that makes Disney characters from paper.

Beauty-Oke: “Once Upon A Dream” (HD 2:32) – Karaoke version of “Once Upon A Dream”

Classic Bonus Features

  • The Sound Of Beauty: Restoring A Classic (HD, 10:50) 
  • Picture Perfect: The Making Of Sleeping Beauty (HD, 43:42)
  • Eyvind Earle: A Man And His Art (HD, 7:33)
  • Audio Commentary With John Lasseter, Andreas Deja and Leonard Maltin

Sneak Peeks – Disney Movie Rewards, DisneyParks.com, Doc McStuffins, Frozen: Sing-A-Long Edition, Planes: Fire & Rescue, Legend Of The Neverbeast

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Summary 

If you have the 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition of Sleeping Beauty, hang onto it.  Aside from the extra on the animation on Disney villains, there’s no real reason to double dip and you surely don’t want to abandoned the vault of bonus features to replace.  As it stands though, the Diamond Edition is a perfectly fine release and has plenty to do after the film.  The film’s video and audio is a perfect presentation as well.  If you missed out on this one the first time around, this release is no slouch.  Its far far from bare bones even if it did drop a chunk of supplemental material.  This is Sleeping Beauty‘s second time around on the format, so if you missed out the first time, definitely don’t cop out again!

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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