Friday, November 6, 2009
unruly review: sleeping beauty
Have you seen Sleeping Beauty lately?
And I don't mean "have you bought the Aurora socks from the Target dollar bins"?
I mean, have you actually watched it? Because OY.
Here's the Cliff's Notes version: bad witch curses princess to die, princess is raised by fairies in the woods, bad witch's curse comes true anyway, princess goes into a magical coma, dude shows up to smooch her, she wakes up, he slays a dragon, and they live Happily Ever After.
I don't think I'm giving anything away, but the story is fairly simple and very old. Disney didn't make this one up, which you can tell, because there aren't nearly enough characters to make it marketable.
Here are the fairies:
They provide a minor amount of comic relief. The third one is actually named "Merriwether", or "Merry Weather". I mean, they don't call her "Nuclear Waste". That's just me, trying to fill in the gap after Flora and Fauna in a very '09 sort of way.
And there's the villain, the wicked Maleficent.
But the main character, of course, is Sleeping Beauty, nee Aurora, code name Briar Rose.
Disney's version of Sleeping Beauty was took nearly 10 years to make and was released in 1959, so the timing is slow, the music is classical, and the effects are like what an old white guy would assume a drug trip felt like.
And Aurora herself is modeled after a pin-up of the time, Evelyn Kaufman, of whom not a single image can be Googled. I'm betting Wikipedia made that one up. But I'm not falling for it!
Here she is with her forest friends. If the movie was made today, they would each have a name, wardrobe, and action figure. But back then, they were just dreamers.
When she turns 16, Aurora is lured by the evil Maleficent into pricking her finger on a spinning wheel. How gullible *are* the Disney princesses? And then she "dies".
Which means she sleeps in her princess dress and crown, hair perfectly coiffed, waiting for her true love's kiss. Or maybe that's Shrek. I forget.
So the Prince shows up. But that doesn't work so well at first.
And then, finally, after a bunch of boring stuff during which I came downstairs to send out query letters, he kisses her.
It always makes me really, really uncomfortable.
I mean, how do you explain to your tiny tot that it's just a story, that she shouldn't spend her whole life waiting for a man to "wake her up"? I know all the archetypes that go into this fairytale, how it describes and outlins womanhood throughout history, and sexual awakening, and Antigone, and HE BLINDED HIMSELF and all that. But I still have trouble watching it with my daughter, tacitly agreeing through my presence that it's acceptable for guys to kiss strangers who are asleep.
But I'm going to hop off my soapbox now and go back to making fun of a Disney movie that my daughter apparently loves.
Oh, wait. I already did.
When they make movies these days, they go to so much trouble to do research, marketing, surveys. They make sure that the characters are as appealing as possible to as many consumers as possible. But in Sleeping Beauty's day, ol' Walt Disney just did what he wanted to do. Which makes a misogynistic, slow-ass movie, in my opinion.
But it's making the Biscuit happy while she's sick, so who am I to judge?
Disclaimer: It's not my favorite movie, and I don't personally like princesses at all, and I love to lambast anything that'll hold still, but I'm eternally grateful to the friends who leant Sleeping Beauty to us. You guys are the best!