Aurora, the princess in Disney's Sleeping Beauty, is based on a classic fairy tale from hundreds of years ago. Disney decided to lead Prince Philip to Princess Aurora a little sooner than in the original version, though: a few hours instead of 100 years!
Aurora wasn't the first Disney princess to star in a Disney feature length animated film based on a fairy tale. Disney's Snow White was the first. But there wouldn't be another fairy tale based Disney animated feature until almost 40 years later when Ariel starred in The Little Mermaid.
Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather told Princess Aurora over and over again – Don't talk to strangers! Aurora, anxious to learn more about the world like many young girls, ignores their advice and talks to Prince Philip in the woods. Unfortunately for Aurora, the word gets out as to her whereabouts and evil Maleficent is able to carry out the curse she placed on the baby when she was born – luckily, with the special modification created for Aurora's by her fairy guardian.
When Disney's Sleeping Beauty begins, Aurora is only a newborn baby! Soon, she becomes 'Briar Rose', a young girl on her sixteenth birthday, the magical day when her curse will run out, allowing her to return home to her kingdom and true identity as princess Aurora. She is young and innocent and sweet, but she will learn many lessons in a few short hours - about herself and the world around her.
Disney's Sleeping Beauty was not only made famous by the beautiful and sweet princess Aurora. The music for the film was written by George Brun. He created an orchestral score that was nominated for an Academy Award for its creative mixing of original music with well known themes from ballet scores written by the master Tchaikovsky.
In 1959, Aurora broke a record. Disney Studios spent $6 million to produce Sleeping Beauty. Up until that time, that much money had never been spent on an animated feature. At today's dollar value, that $6 million in 1959 would equal roughly $80 million dollars today!
In 1959, of course, there wasn't a computer in almost every home the way there is today. The internet was unheard of and so was computer animation. To create something visual to assist the animators, Disney Studios got creative. They shot a live film that followed the script of Disney's Sleeping Beauty using live actors playing all the characters like Princess Aurora and Prince Philip and the evil Maleficent. Their bodies and how the clothes of the period flowed served as guidelines for the artists so that they could draw more realistic animated figures!
The hot action during the fight scene between the evil Maleficent and the charming Prince Philip kept moviegoers on the edge of their seats. Critics, however, were just as impressed and one said so. Bosley Crowther, a famous movie critic from the New York Times said that this scene was 'the noisiest and scariest go-round he [Disney] has ever put into one of his films.'