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Disney’s Sleeping Beauty added to National Film Registry

Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty shall indeed grow in grace and beauty, beloved by all who know it. 

And before the sun set on the year of its 60th anniversary, the animated classic was added to the National Film Registry. 

Twenty-five films recognized as being historically, culturally or aesthetically significant are added to the National Film Registry each year. The National Film Preservation Board works to ensure the survival, conservation and increased public availability of the selected films. A list of all inducted films can be found on the Library of Congress website. Sleeping Beauty now joins the likes of Pinocchio and Cinderella, among various other Disney classics, on the revered Registry.

Sleeping Beauty premiered on January 29, 1959 in theaters across the United States. Taking on new challenges, the film adopted the musical stylings of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet version of the story and became the first animated film photographed in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process. Despite exceeding its $6 million budget, six-year production timeframe, and receiving a relatively cool reception upon opening, the now timeless masterpiece showcasing the artistic brilliance of Eyvind Earle and Walt’s “Renaissance man” Marc Davis, is not to be forgotten.

In one interview, when asked what sets Sleeping Beauty apart from other Disney films, Mary Costa, the enchanting voice and ultimate character model for Princess Aurora herself, stated in part:

“I think that it was ahead of its time when it came out. They had real masters working on every part of it, for instance, Marc Davis did the animation for my character all the way through the film. On some of the others, other artists have taken over, and it changes. Their faces aren’t quite the same… and I think the music, the way the storyline was done, and particularly the artistry of Eyvind Earle… it’s just a very beautiful depth of color… I think it will always remain fresh to every generation.”

Other noteworthy or fun facts about Sleeping Beauty include:

  • It was the last animated film to feature traditionally inked cels. Later films would employ Xerox technology to make cels.
  • It was the last animated Disney princess fairytale film until The Little Mermaid which was released 30 years later.
  • Costa fondly recalled that the first time she met Walt, he said, “I wanted to come and wish you some luck. You’re going to do ‘Once Upon a Dream’ and that’s my favorite melody. Don’t catch a cold!”

In our view, Sleeping Beauty was long overdue to be added to the National Film Registry. Just as Maleficent spent sixteen long years looking for the little princess, we spent almost sixty long years waiting for this film to make the list. Romantically though, it is fitting that the achievement is complimented by the film’s 60th anniversary. 

Our excitement for the film’s anniversary shows from our trip to D23’s commemorative screening at Disney Springs in February, not to mention our interview with Gabriela Hernandez about the release of Besame Cosmetics’ 1959 Sleeping Beauty makeup collection.

And so, like King Hubert and King Stefan, we continue celebrating the glittering assemblage that is Disney’s Sleeping Beauty: Skumps!

If you don’t yet own a copy, Sleeping Beauty is available on the Disney Diamond DVD Collection.