Disney produced this lavish animated fairy tale, the most expensive cartoon ever made up to its release with a budget of $6 million. When the young princess Aurora is cursed at birth by the evil fairy Maleficent, the baby is kidnapped by a trio of good fairies who raise the girl themselves, hoping to avoid the spell's fulfillment. Nevertheless, at the age of 16, the beautiful Aurora falls into a deep sleep that can only be awakened by a kiss from her betrothed, Prince Phillip. Knowing that Phillip intends to save Aurora, Maleficent takes him prisoner. When the good fairies launch a rescue attempt, Maleficent transforms herself into a spectacular fire-breathing dragon, forcing Phillip to defeat her in mortal combat. Sleeping Beauty (1959) was Oscar nominated for its musical score, which featured adaptations of Tchaikovsky compositions. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi
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To this day, *Sleeping Beauty* remains the best film in the Disney oevre. Although Princess Aurora and Prince Philip are predictably flat caricatures of damsel and hero, which is true of most Disney films, the witch Maleficent is the dark and menacing shadow that hangs over this movie. Step down, Evil Queen! Move aside, Ursula! Maleficent is Disney's best villain. Her confident poise, her darkly seductive demeanor, and her cold but beautiful voice radiate malice, which is most evident in her sadistic delight at explaining to Philip his fate in the dungeon. Musical passages from Tchaikovsky's famous ballet are woven seamlessly into the film, particularly in the Philip/Maleficent showdown. The handsome animation style takes many of its cues from late medieval tapestries and iconography.