“Maleficent” introduced a new generation of moviegoers to the age-old fairy tale of “Sleeping Beauty,” but older audiences might argue that it didn’t do justice to a villainess they love to loathe.
However, anyone who was disappointed with the filmmakers’ sympathetic take on the character will have the chance this weekend to reacquaint themselves – and introduce others – to the witch they grew up with.
The Utah Film Center is bringing the animated 1959 version of “Sleeping Beauty” to the big screen on Saturday, Feb. 14, with a free 2 p.m. showing at Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
The G-rated classic is loosely based on the medieval fairy tale made famous by author Charles Perrault’s story of the same name, as well as “Little Briar Rose” by The Brothers Grimm.
In case you haven’t read those stories – or seen the movie – here’s a synopsis, courtesy of the Utah Film Center: “A beautiful princess born in a faraway kingdom is cursed to fall into a deep sleep that can only be awakened by true love’s first kiss. Determined to protect her, her parents ask three fairies to raise her in hiding. But the evil Maleficent is just as determined to seal the princess’s fate.”
Yes, evil. Sorry, Angelina Jolie fans, but there’s no other way to put it. This Maleficent is irredeemably diabolical.
However, she does have one thing in common with Jolie’s twist on the character: She’s arguably the real star of the show. By one estimate, the grown-up sleeping beauty in the animated version appears on screen for less than 20 minutes of the movie’s 75-minute running time.
Although the Maleficent character existed in one form or another, the Disney studio came up with a new name that offered a not-so-subtle hint about her personality.
The movie is notable for other reasons, as well.
It was the last Disney film that used hand-inked animation, and it employed a huge production team that briefly included Looney Tunes cartoonist Chuck Jones, according to the website Moviefone. About 300 artists came up with approximately 1 million drawings for the film, and the filmmaking team spent six years working on the movie, according to Turner Classic Movies’ website.
The painstaking production ran on for at least six years; some of the vocal tracks were actually recorded seven years before the movie arrived in theaters, according to Moviefone.
Although the movie is revered today, it was not a success when it lit up the silver screen for the first time. By many historical accounts, the studio was humbled by its loss at the box office, and another 30 years passed before Disney took another crack at an animated fairy tale.
Over the years, however, audiences have grown to appreciate the movie, and today, it’s widely considered to be a classic, according to Utah Film Center Artistic Director Patrick Hubley.
“The Disney version of the classic fairy tale ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is generally recognized as one of the best animated films ever made, and spawned one of the most villainous Disney characters of all time – the evil witch, Maleficent,” Hubley said. “With music inspired by Tchaikovsky and one of the last films to use hand-colored cell animation, we’re excited to present this film on a big screen, as it was meant to be seen.”
For more information about the Utah Film Center and upcoming free screenings at Star Hall, go to www.utahfilmcenter.org.
Audiences invited to free Valentine’s Day screening of “Sleeping Beauty”
We’re excited to present this film on a big screen, as it was meant to be seen.
What: The Utah Film Center presents Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”
When: Saturday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m.
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.