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Sleeping Beauty at the Academy


A newly restored, digitally remastered version of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959) will be presented on Friday, July 18, at 7:30 pm at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Following the screening, a team from Walt Disney Animation Studios including Dave Bossert, creative director of special projects; animator Andreas Deja; Theo Gluck, director of library restoration and preservation; and Terry Porter, sound department chief and head rerecording mixer will participate in a panel discussion hosted by Leonard Maltin.

According to the Academy press release:

This new digital restoration of “Sleeping Beauty” comes from 4K scans of the camera original successive exposure Technirama negative. The 7.1 audio remix was created from the Disney Studio’s 35mm mag elements, including the original 3-track stereo music masters, which were recorded in Berlin in 1958.

Tickets are $5 for the general public and may be purchased online at, in person at the Academy box office or by mail. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

  • Lionel

    Would have loved to be there, were it not for the Atlantic ocean between home and LA.

    Hope the DVD and Blu-Ray will include the original stereo mix, in addition to the new 7.1

  • PorkyMills

    Wish I could make it to the screening. Sleeping Beauty is still, for me, the most striking artistic achievement a Disney movie ever made. The lavish backgrounds and the marvelous styings of Eyvind Earle still remain unparalleled, even by Disney. Here’s hoping this restoration makes it to a hi-def digital format.

  • …yes, but will it be unnecessarily purple?

  • There are still people who worked on the film living in LA. Did they try or were they only interested in the restoration?

  • What is 4K scans?

  • CMT

    Good that Maltin is hosting. They had a screening of Sleeping Beauty at the El Capitan a few years ago with a q&a by Charles Solomon that was an absolute disaster.

  • Brandon Cordy

    Wait…is this from the 1998 restoration or have they restored it _again_?

    Lionel, the original Super Technirama 70 version of “Sleeping Beauty” was originally presented in six-track stereophonic sound, so a 7.1 mix isn’t unheard of. A four-track stereo mix was done for the regular 35mm prints.

    Fernando, the 4K represents the resolution used when the restoration team scanned the “Sleeping Beauty” elements int othe computer for the restoration. Each frame was imported from the original successive negatives into digital format at a resolution of about 4096 x 1862 for the restoration (the width is correct and standard with all 4K work; I calculated/estimated the height from “Sleeping Beauty’s” aspect ratio of 2.20:1)

    Most standard film work is done at 2K (2048 x the corresponding pixel height), with 4K reserved for heavy effects work, some big budget films, and restorations such as this one.

  • Jen

    I seriously can’t wait for this to come out on DVD! It’s such a beautiful movie now, imagine what the remastered version will be!

  • Disney held a media event for the International press about a week ago. My old pal, Blaine Gibson and I were present at the rollout. Blaine was an animator on the film, and I was just a kid getting started in the business. The good people at the Disney ARL were able to find scenes Blaine and I did on the movie.

    We had many stories to tell.

  • amid

    Walt Peregoy
    Ray Aragon
    Vic Haboush
    Frank Armitage
    …all alive and all important contributors to the film.
    Seems a shame not to have them speak.

  • I agree, Amid. I watched these guys do incredible layout and background work on the film.

    I would much rather hear from them.

  • wampachow

    The 18th was yesterday! Totally missed it by a day, and I just happen to be in town. Bummer.

    They are showing Once Upon a Time in the West, one of my favorite Westerns, on Friday, so I’ll be going to that.

  • “Sleeping Beauty” was beautifully restored in the 1990s also using a 4K resolution method at Kodak’s Cinesite center. It was carefully restored and at least one 70mm print was struck. I saw this print and it was stunning! So I don’t understand why Disney decided to go back and reinterpret how this film was restored *and* shot. The film may lack in the story dept., but it is a stunningly beautiful film to look at on the big screen.

    The movie has already been “remastered” and put on DVD in a very well done 2-disc set. That set is presented with a 2.20:1 letterboxed presentation. That 70mm print I mentioned above, though a little beaten up now, has been circulating around at various revival screenings and still looks very good.

    What makes my blood boil, for lack of a better term, is how Disney is “restoring” this film. The film was already restored and done beautifully, in my opinion. Why mess with it? The 1990s weren’t that long ago!

    Please allow me to clairify some issues here on the restoration and some of the comments made by other posters above.

    Technically speaking, Disney is now presenting the film in the super wide 2.55:1 aspect ratio, not the 2.25 aspect ratio (or 2.20:1 for 70mm prints). They’ve recomposed the film! The film was *not* shot for 2.55:1, which is very wide and not true to how the film was shot and intended to be shown. The 2.55:1 aspect ratio was used mostly for CinemaScope movies during the 1950s, *not* Technirama. The Blu-ray disc you’ll get on this movie will be even more letterboxed (even on a widescreen TV) and will not reflect how the film was shot and composed! So by going with 2.55:1, this film is no longer a Technirama based movie!

    Technirama, which Disney promoted prior and during “Sleeping Beauty’s” release (and thru various re-issues), was essentially the VistaVision format using an anamorphic lens. This allowed for the use of a very large horizontal 35mm film frame when filming, plus the added benefit of anamorphic lenses for the use of widescreen.

    “Super Technirama 70,” which Walt Disney Productions proudly advertised, was used when it was decided to roadshow epic movies like “Sleeping Beauty.” 70mm prints were struck for select markets who could present movies in that bigger film format. The end result was a stunning movie presentation. Some other films shown in Super Technirama were “Spartacus” and “El Cid.”

    As for the 7.1 surround sound, this again is a modern re-interpretation of what was originally done on “Sleeping Beauty.” The film, when it was restored in the 1990s, was mixed in three channel Dolby Stereo, not six track, for the 70mm print. Not all of the 70mm Six-Track Dolby/magnetic stereo movie presentations over the years were done with all six channels being used. So I believe that the restoration team in the 1990s was faithful to the original mix. There were no surround channels being utilized on “Sleeping Beauty.”

    I think that Terry Porter is an *excellent* mixer and he’s done an incredible job on past films and DVDs. This isn’t to say that he hasn’t done a terrific job on the remix of “Sleeping Beauty.” I don’t fault him for doing his job. He’s done a tasteful job on past re-mixes.

    What I do fault is the fact that modern day restoration teams are re-thinking what the original filmmakers would’ve done. “Gee, if they had 7.1 surround sound and digital 3-D, then ‘Sleeping Beauty’ would’ve been done that way!!” No. Disney did this kind of re-thinking with “Snow White,” “Cinderella” and “Bambi” by turning them in hyper-clear, high-definition movies that would be appealing to today’s kids. These restorations for the modern age make the films feel and play differently, in my opinion. Our DVD culture has become so brain washed into thinking that every movie has to have a super clean appearance and have breathtaking sound. “Sleeping Beauty” is an exception because Technirama was already hyper-clear and super sharp.

    The original sound mix on “Sleeping Beauty” wasn’t anything sonically special, to be honest. It was a pretty simple sound mix to begin with and in tune with the era from which it was recorded. I have a feeling that dialogue and sound effects tracks were recorded earlier in the 1950s before it was decided how to present “Sleeping Beauty.” Not every single movie, especially those made in the 1950s, has to have you surrounded in sound.

    To clairify some comments above. This isn’t meant to disparage anyone here. I was at that “Sleeping Beauty” screening a few years ago and the screening wasn’t a disaster. What had happened was that the movie started and stopped during the title sequence. The manager of the theater came up and blamed it on “that 70mm film.” I’ve been to plenty of screenings, including many at the Samuel Goldwyn, and *any* film format can give a projectionist occassional trouble. No big deal. The film started again and the presentation was fine after that.

    “Sleeping Beauty” was re-released mostly with 70mm prints during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1986, Disney did invest in some 35mm Dolby Stereo prints. More than likely, those 35mm prints didn’t have a four-track mix. A 70mm print was shown in NYC during that re-issue. The film was later released on VHS and sold well.

    After all the years of trying to show movies AS THEY WERE INTENDED, it seems that Disney has taken a step back on “Sleeping Beauty.” Maybe they’ll colorize it next time around, or put in a CGI Maleficent because that old one just wasn’t scary enough.

  • Brandon Cordy

    Bill, you were right about the dialogue. It was recorded in the early ’50s, about 1952, which is why the fidelity is different from that of the music.

    I don’t really have a problem with the hyper-clean restorations or the remixed soundtracks, so long as they’re done tastefully. Besides, shouldn’t keeping the films fresh for modern kids be an important concern of Disney’s (barring techniques such as tampering with the actual content of the film)? The DVD presentations usually include the original sound mixes alongside the revised versions, so anyone who prefers the original sound mix (for me, it depends upon the film) can run it instead of the remixed version.

    My only concern with the restorations is that the color timers should be careful about balancing the colors so that the image still has the palette of a celluloid film – “Snow White” on DVD had some rather electric reds and blues in places.

  • To wampachow: You didn’t miss the screening – it’s JULY 18th, not June 18th. You have about 30 days to prepare yourself! :)

  • Does anyone know for sure if this is “new” restoration is different from the one available on DVD in 2002? If so, do the colors look more like the original again?

  • Chuck R.

    I agree that Sleeping beauty is one of Disney’s high points as far as design goes. The still frame at the top of the posting, though, is a strange choice to represent the film. It’s the one shot I can’t stand, and it gets worse when Aurora’s lips turn up in a very mechanical-looking smile. Oh well.

    I’ll also concur with Michael about getting some living, breathing artists and designers to give some commentary. When will people get a clue?

  • Brenton

    It looks like someone botched the press release, and it got circulated around the web. As noted above, this screened last night.

  • K.Borcz

    I Love Sleeping Beauty. It would be wonderful to see all that fabulous artwork on a big screen. Too bad they only do screenings in LA. Oh well. Guess I’ll just have to wait for the DVD and watch it on a giant tv screen.

  • Lonel

    To Floyd Norman: did you see the new restoration? And, if so, do you think it accurately represents what the movie was in 1959 (especially color-wise)? Is the 90s restoration (the previous DVD) more faithful?
    And could you elaborate on what scenes of yours the Disney archivists found, and also, even more importantly (sorry!), as he was an animator, what Blaine Gibson scenes?

    If you take the time to answer these questions, thank you. I first saw the movie as a mesmerized 5-year old kid in Paris in 1979, and, after all these years, I still haven’t found an aesthetically more stunning movie (and never will). And before the age of the internet, only ten years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be writing mails to someone who worked on this masterpiece!

  • Sleeping Beauty may be Disney’s greatest film. It’s still as emotionally powerful to me as when I first saw it when it was first released, and I was a child. In fact, now I appreciate it more than I did then.

    I remember one scene differently than I’ve seen it in any video release. If there’s any place to get a definitive answer, this may be it.

    After the prince kills the dragon, he looks over the edge of the cliff and sees his sword stuck in an amorphous, charred-looking spot on the ground. But as I remember it, the charred ground originally was in the shape of Maleficent, with her distinctive horned headdress. It was a stunning image — am I remembering it wrong?