19. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Not only is this one of my favorite Disney films, but it is quite possibly my absolute favorite fairy tale. Almost every edition of the story, be it the Tchaikovsky ballet or a television adaptation, has been well-done in my eyes and the Walt Disney version is by far the best. The story is very simple. A princess is born and as the good fairies are giving their gifts to the child, the evil sorceress (who was uninvited) crashes the celebration and curses the child to die at 16. The focus of the rest of the film, while partially on the young princess as she dreams of love, is mostly on the three good fairies as they do everything in their powers to counteract the spell of the evil witch. They even help the handsome prince save the day, defeat the witch and get to the castle to kiss the sleeping princess.
While a very simple story (it is the shortest film on my list running at an hour and 15 minutes), the manner in which Disney does it is complex and multi-layered. The characters, first of all, are extremely well-defined especially the three good fairies and the villain. The fairies (Flora, Fauna and Merryweather) are some of the funniest characters each with their own personalities (and signature colors!). Maleficent, the evil sorceress, is considered to be one of the best Disney villains of all-time. Plus, her motivation is actually legitimate! Grant it, she does go overboard in her response, but who hasn't in their lifetime felt hurt and spiteful over a snub? Also, the use of music is absolutely gorgeous. George Bruns, Disney's in-house composer, did a brilliant job adapting Tchaikovsky's beautiful ballet music for the film (including the amazing theme "Once Upon a Dream"). In addition, the background animation is very different from other Disney films. A lot of the backgrounds have a picturesque and stain-glass quality that give the fairy tale a very stylish look. It is one of Disney's best animated films and I enjoy watching it every time I see it.
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