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Blu-ray Review Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review

Despite its brilliant and ebullient mix of music, merriment, and menace, Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty was a box-office disappointment on its initial release. Its $6 million price tag, the highest ever for an animated feature, certainly kept the film from breaking even during its premiere theatrical engagements (though subsequent reissues certainly brought it well into the black) even with its 70mm Technirama presentations and a six-channel stereophonic soundtrack, both utilized in an animated feature for the first time. Today, after continual home video incarnations have kept the film in the public eye and have caused serious reevaluations of the film’s stunning craftsmanship (that unique combination of the stately yet stylized backgrounds and the staggeringly detailed attention to the characters), Sleeping Beauty has taken its true place of honor with Disney’s other classic tales. This new Diamond Edition of the movie is its second Blu-ray release coming six years after its initial Blu-ray presentation. Sadly, though there are a few new bonus features placed on the disc, much that made that initial Blu-ray release special are no longer here, and with the video and audio transfer seemingly the same, it would be hard to recommend anyone with the earlier set to trade it in for this new one.



Studio: Disney

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1

Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, Other

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Rating: G

Run Time: 1 Hr. 15 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy

keep case in a slipcover

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: ABC

Release Date: 10/07/2014

MSRP: $36.99




The Production Rating: 5/5

Outraged after being omitted from the list of invited guests for the presentation of their newly born baby daughter, wicked sorceress Maleficent (Eleanor Audley) casts a spell on Princess Aurora (Mary Costa) that she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel before her sixteenth birthday and die. Unable to completely defeat the evil spell, the good fairy Merryweather (Barbara Luddy) alters the spell to one of everlasting sleep until awakened by true love’s first kiss. To further impede the possibility of the spell’s inevitable result, Merryweather together with her two friends Flora (Verna Felton) and Fauna (Barbara Jo Allen) take the princess deep into the forest to live as peasants until the danger is over and the young royal can be returned to her parents. On the day of her sixteenth birthday, however, the princess meets a young man (Bill Shirley) in the forest and falls in love with him, unaware that he’s Prince Philip, the man she’s been betrothed to since birth. Sadly for her, their meeting for that evening is interrupted when the fairies take her back to the palace to the arms of her eager parents. But Maleficent isn’t done with her spells, and she quickly takes action to see that her original pronouncement can come true.

 

There is no denying that the adaptation of the original Charles Perrault version of the fairy tale by Disney writer Erdman Penner has Disneyfication written all over it with the three fairies alternately doting (Flora), dotty (Fauna), and sassy (Merryweather), warring over things like the color of Aurora‘s ball gown and how the cottage should be cleaned, the achingly stupid henchmen of Maleficent who have no luck finding the princess despite their best efforts leaving the dirty work to the witch‘s toxic raven, and the ultimate confrontation between good and evil raising the excitement level of the piece to a spirited and even frightening crescendo. Still, those very elements give the film its unique enchantment, a combination of the mirthful and the macabre that have kept it a favorite despite its initial lukewarm reception by both critics and public.

 

The casting is superlative in all of the roles. The three fairies are played by actresses who either had experience in Disney features or adapted well to its demands, and their individual performances give Sleeping Beauty much of its most distinctive identity. Mary Costa’s operatic training acquits her well in handling the musical portions of the film for Princess Aurora with songs adapted from Peter Tchaikovsky’s ballet of the story, and she’s a believable innocent in the story portions, too, as she surrenders to the lure of first love. But the film’s pièce de résistance is Eleanor Audley’s magnificent performance as the malevolent Maleficent. Already acclaimed as the best wicked stepmother ever in Disney’s Cinderella, she takes her poisonous intentions to new heights as evil personified as the venomous sorceress. When seen as a child, who doesn’t vividly remember his terror in her final transformation at the film’s climax, and those moments are among the most intense in any Disney animated feature.

 

Sleeping Beauty’s peerless sophistication in animation with those stunning Eyvind Earle designed background paintings that give the film a stately brilliance and the classic music adapted by George Bruns make it one of the all-time animated classics and one that is so completely different from any of Disney’s other celebrated masterworks.


Once Upon a Dream

Waltzing (Pink!, Blue!)


Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The film has been framed at 2.55:1 in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and appears to be the same encode from 2008 (some A/B comparisons revealed nothing different that I could spy). Any discussions about original aspect ratios seem somewhat pointless when scouring the beauty of this transfer. There are a couple of places that display a momentary line twitter where long shots contain lots of close line arrangements, and there is one odd moment where the film seems to freeze at the end of a shot. For those who despise the smooth, slick look of Disney animated classics on these Blu-ray releases, there will be some complaints about the transfer even though the animation lines all appear to be solid and not affected by any digital tampering. The depth and solidity of the color, the endless details in those astonishing background paintings (it’s very tempting to pause on the forest scenes to drink in the depth of intricate detail in the artwork), and the three dimensional clarity without a hint of banding or other artifacts are all things of rare beauty. The film has been divided into 30 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4.5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix will be for those who are just now adding those back surround channels to their surround systems a delightful surprise. There is more directionialzed dialog and singing than ever before (the sequence where Aurora wanders around the forest singing and humming while Prince Philip tries to find her offers the surround system a delightful workout and places the listener squarely in the center enjoying the aural activity from all directions). Bass is stronger in this mix than it ever was on VHS, laserdisc, or DVD releases and is even more impressive than that heard in theatrical showings. Finally, the subwoofer has something to do during the 75 minutes of the film! If the dragon sequence lacks just that last bit of thundering oomph, it’s only a minor objection. Still, the orchestrations are lush and beautifully delivered in the lossless track (one can actually hear the division of the singing ensemble with the lower voices in the left soundfield and the higher voices in the right)! With this mix, the audio of the film comes close to matching the splendor of the visuals in this stupendous achievement. The disc also offers in Dolby Digital 4.0 the original theatrical sound mix, and it sounds nice and full though certainly not as impressively distinct as the lossless remix.



Special Features Rating: 4/5

Audio Commentary: Disney historian Leonard Maltin and Disney animation executives John Lasseter and Andreas Deja take part in pointing out all of the majestic and entertaining qualities of the film while offering background information on its production and the personnel involved with its creation.

 

Deleted Scenes (HD): three scenes storyboarded early in the production process and then eliminated are presented separately: “Aurora Tempted” (2:58), “Maleficent’s Arrival” (1:58), and “The Faire” (7:48).

 

Once Upon a Parade (8:49, HD): Sarah Hyland spins a tale of how the Disneyland Festival of Fantasy Parade was saved by a quick-thinking peasant girl (whom she plays in the story).

 

The Art of Evil: Generations of Disney Villains (9:49, HD): Frozen’s animation supervisor Lino DiSalvo and veteran Disney animator Andreas Deja discuss not only villains they’ve animated (Deja did Gaston, Jafar, and Scar) but also the Disney arch enemies through their run of animated classics paying particular attention to celebrate Marc Davis who animated Maleficent.

 

@DisneyAnimation: Artists in Motion (4:27, HD): Disney visual development artist Brittany Moon constructs a statuette of Maleficent completely in paper.

 

Beauty-Oke (2:32, HD): sing along with “Once Upon a Dream.”

 

Restoring the Soundtrack (10:50, HD): an interesting featurette on the original recordings of the music and the restoration and remixing of the audio for its inclusion on the Blu-ray release.

 

Picture Perfect: The Making of Sleeping Beauty (43:32, HD): an exhaustive description of the years of effort which went into making this zenith of Disney’s traditional animation features with recent and vintage interviews with those involved in its production.

 

Eyvind Earle: The Man and His Art (7:33, HD): a too-brief mini-biography of the great artist, not only about his work on Sleeping Beauty but also his career as a portrait painter and his difficult early years.

 

Promo Trailers (HD): 101 Dalmatians, Cinderella, Maleficent

 

DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.


Trailer


Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Though it has not ported over many of the very special bonus features that were contained in the original 2008 Blu-ray release of Sleeping Beauty (there was one entire Blu-ray disc just devoted to bonuses plus the Cine-Explore feature on the film disc), this new Diamond Edition does contain the wonderful audio and video encode which presents the film at its glorious best. Highly recommended!


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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Charles Smith

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This film meant a LOT to me at the tender age of ten, and I've always appreciated it a zillion times more as an adult. (Or whatever I am now.)

And while I'm relieved to read that there's nothing new that would ordinarily require purchasing it again, you tempt me with that description of the audio ...
 

FoxyMulder

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I don't like the smooth look and i think there is a blurriness there as a result of the digital noise reduction process.

I believe this release could look more film like and look more detailed and stunning but, Disney is not marketing this film at the purist, it seems they drop extra content again, what's up with that, i have the original so i'll pass on this.
 

warnerbro

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Is the Grand Canyon Suite not included? This feature always accompanied this release in theatres and in all video releases. It was designed as a companion piece I believe.
 

Mark-P

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Is the implication that the 7.1 mix on this disc is different than the 7.1 that was on the first Blu-ray release?
 

Capnvid

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Technirama was VistaVision with a slight squeeze that had a 2.2 to one un-squeezed aspect ratio. The 2.55 aspect ratio was for 35mm print down general release. So actually you are losing the top and bottom of the glorious original vision. Still looks great on my old Blu-Ray. New cover looks nice though. Probably a lead in to the Blu-Ray of "Maleficent," which I eagerly await.
 

classicmovieguy

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Is anybody else noticing that as the years trickle by, these "Diamond" editions include less and less special features than the earlier "Platinum" ones?
 

Mark-P

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Capnvid said:
Technirama was VistaVision with a slight squeeze that had a 2.2 to one un-squeezed aspect ratio. The 2.55 aspect ratio was for 35mm print down general release. So actually you are losing the top and bottom of the glorious original vision. Still looks great on my old Blu-Ray. New cover looks nice though. Probably a lead in to the Blu-Ray of "Maleficent," which I eagerly await.
Not in this case. Disney prepared all the artwork for Sleeping Beauty in the CinemaScope ratio of 2.55:1 and there is empty space above and below in the Technirama frame. When the 70mm and 35mm prints were originally prepared the sides were cropped to 2.20:1 and 2.35:1 respectively. The 2008 Blu-ray was the first time the movie had ever been seen in its originally-created aspect ratio.
 

Mike Frezon

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Mark-P said:
Is the implication that the 7.1 mix on this disc is different than the 7.1 that was on the first Blu-ray release?
I'm curious about this, too. Matt seems to be saying that the audio on the new release is even better than the '08 release.
 

Matt Hough

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I didn't mean to imply it was a new mix; it isn't, and the bonus feature on the 7.1 remix was also on the previous Blu-ray release. It's the same audio encode. I was actually thinking of those people who didn't buy it before but who now have 7.1 capable systems who would enjoy its cleverly designed use of the entire spectrum of surrounds.
 

Matt Hough

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warnerbro said:
Is the Grand Canyon Suite not included? This feature always accompanied this release in theatres and in all video releases. It was designed as a companion piece I believe.
As you can see from my listing of the bonus feature content, Grand Canyon is not included in this release.
 

Mark-P

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Matt Hough said:
I didn't mean to imply it was a new mix; it isn't, and the bonus feature on the 7.1 remix was also on the previous Blu-ray release. It's the same audio encode. I was actually thinking of those people who didn't buy it before but who now have 7.1 capable systems who would enjoy its cleverly designed use of the entire spectrum of surrounds.
That's a relief. No need to double-dip.
 

classicmovieguy

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It should be worth mentioning, though, that the cover art on this version is something of a collectible. The UK edition has Aurora in her 'Briar Rose' costume. :)
 

KPmusmag

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The extra I particularly love on the original blu-ray release is the interactive tour through the Disneyland "Sleeping Beauty" castle. That is a very cool extra, especially for "boomers" like me who enjoyed that attraction at Disneyland year after year. Like others here, I also found the "Living Menu" delightful. Frankly, I am a bit peeved at Disney; first, the "Mary Poppins" blu-ray, while gorgeous to my eye, leaves out my favorite extra, "A Musical Journey with Richard Sherman" and then "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" is the short version (I didn't buy that one).
 

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