Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorite Disney movies for one main reason: Maleficent. This is one evil fairy you don’t wanna mess around with. She will CUT YOU. Forget to invite her to your baby shower? Expect one death curse on your baby. Also she can turn into a dragon and all sorts of crap when she’s angry. Try not to piss her off.
Sadly, Sleeping Beauty’s parents didn’t get the memo. The good fairies give the baby princess the gifts of Song and Beauty which begs the question – would the girl would have been tone deaf and ugly as a post without the gifts? Who knows? It’s just a good thing they didn’t come up with something silly to give her like, say, intelligence. That’s what beauty is for! Anyway, Maleficent shows up in a ball of fire to liven things up. Check it! And here’s another great power this lady has –the power of extreme sarcasm.
“To show I bear no ill will, I too will bestow a gift on the baby . . .” she coos. Hahaha, SNAP, she slaps a curse on the kid, dooming her to death by spinning wheel on her sixteenth birthday. Oh, the third chubby fairy tries to make it better, by simply dooming her to eternal sleep until true love wakes her up, but the king is having none of this. Like all politicians, he promptly overreacts and burns every spinning wheel in the country. I mean, come on, the fairy said 16th birthday. You could have waited, I’d say, at least 15 years before burning all the spinning wheels and dooming your people to sew every darn thing by hand. Not that it would do any good against a fairy who, considering she has the ability to appear and disappear in fire, probably can make a spinning wheel too.
The three fairies figure this out and come up with a plan to raise the kid alone without use of magic. Again, the kid is an infant at this point. 16th birthday, people. Still, the king and queen are freaked and so let these dimwitted fairies take their only child to be raised in the woods. I can’t forsee any problems with this.
It works for a while, mostly because Maleficent relies on her stupid henchmen to search for the child, and they search every cradle – for the entire 16 years. So hard to find good help these days. I love how she says, “Sixteen years you’ve been looking for a baby . . . .” before completely losing it and zapping the heck out of her minions. I’m not sure what Mal was doing all these years – being freaking awesome I guess. Anyway, she finally gets wise and sends out her crow to look for a pretty girl who can sing.
And said pretty girl – the fairies name her Briar Rose – grows up trapped in a cottage with three irritating old women. She has no one else to talk to but forest animals, so it is kind of hard to blame her when the first man shows up and she falls for him right away. I think I would too at that point. Like the prince in Snow White, he’s first attracted by her singing. This movie does have some of the best songs – partly because they are words put to the original music from the ballet. Anyway, she’s singing about meeting this hottie in her dreams and boom, real hottie shows up. He has a name too – Phillip – and shock of all shocks, a bit of a personality too! Big steps here, Disney.
Anyway, she doesn’t realize he’s the prince she was originally promised to as an infant (I love the scene where five year old Phillip looks down at his future bride and makes a disgusted face). And he, like her, thinks she’s a peasant. Mistaken identity for the win! It’s pretty much the only thing taking the girl away from her parents all this time has accomplished, since the fairies, eager to make a halfway decent cake and dress for her birthday, start using magic. Not sure how they’ve been sewing and cooking all this time, but whatever. It quickly devolves into two of them shooting the crap out of each other with wands, which the crow notices while flying overhead. Brilliant.
In between, while waiting for the princess, there’s a great scene where the two kings get falling down drunk. I’d love to see that happen in one of their movies today. But drinking is wrong! Except when it’s funny!
Anyway, Phillip informs his father that he’s marrying hot peasant babe (great quote: “Come on, father, it’s the 14th century – times are changing!), and Rose gets the great surprise that hey, we’ve been lying to you all this time, and now that you’ve finally met someone, you get to go be a princess and marry some prince you don’t know! Happy birthday! After this a series of mishaps happen resulting in Phillip getting captured by Maleficent and Rose (or Princess Aurora, whatevs) getting possessed and touching a – wait for it – magic spinning wheel created by evil fairy magic. Dun dun dummmm!
Well, now that the good fairies have managed to royally screw up EVERYTHING, they try to fix it. Since the princess is asleep, why not put all the rest of the castle asleep, you know, to spare the king and queen any suffering (and spare their own behinds, I wager.) This is just one example of hero has misfortune, the entire staff has misfortune. They finally figure out the mixup and go rescue Phillip from prison and give him a shiny sword and shield. So he rides off to the castle but wait, Maleficent ain’t goin’ down easy. She puts up thorns, then turns into a freaking dragon “Prepare to face ME and all the powers of HELL!” Whoa. I don’t know about Phillip, but I’d be wettin’ ’em.
I like the Disney version better than the original fairy tale. At least in this one, she’s only asleep a short time, and she’s woken up by someone who knows she’s under a spell and who she’s actually met before. In the original, the princess and the castle are all asleep for 100 years, which means when the prince finally gets there, she’s woken up by a stranger (again kissing what for all he knows is a dead girl) in a completely different universe. Think falling asleep in 1913 and waking up today. Yeah, slight culture shock there. That would have to totally suck.
So Phillip kills the dragon, and goes upstairs to wake the princess. Of course she looks perfect in sleep, holding a rose, her beautiful, perfectly styled blond locks (very peasant like!) laying across the pillow just so. Yeah, that’s a natural sleep position. I think it would have added a nice touch if the princess were snoring and drooling into her pillow. Oh well. Phillip kisses her and she wakes up. Next thing you know, they’re downstairs dancing around the ballroom. The stupid fairies continue to change her dress from pink to blue because some people NEVER LEARN. I find it amazing how the peasant girl instantly knows how to dance in court (did the birds and racoons teach her?), but whatever. The only disappointing thing is that Maleficent has to die (by the sword and Disney plummet death). She was totally the most interesting character.
I’m not sure what the thing is with fairy tales and incapacitating women. It’s looking like a bit of a trend here. Maybe they figure if women are asleep, they’re more likely not to notice all the crap the men are doing. I know that’s why I like napping today. What do you think?
Stay tuned next time for the original “failure to launch” Peter freakin’ Pan.
Of all the Disney princesses, I think I can most identify with Sleeping Beauty. I happen to be a champion sleeper as well – at least during the day. Night is another thing altogether. I’m also fairly certain that were I to touch a spindle and try to make wool, I’d definitely prick myself and possibly fall over dead (or pretend to) because I’m not much into spinning. It sounds like way too much work.
I think there’s a little more to this story than the spindle and narcolepsy, though. I’ve come to see it as a reflection of depression in creative people. Yeah, okay, bear with me and I’ll explain. You remember when Aurora (that’s Sleeping Beauty’s name btw) is a baby and those fairies came to bestow gifts upon her? There was the bossy one with the stick up her hiney, the flighty stupid one, and the chubby feisty one. And then there was the one who wasn’t invited to the party.
You know, you’d think when the king and queen were making out invitations, they’d have considered that. Like, hmm, I’ll invite Lord Frances and Maid Mildred and uh oh hmm what about the psycho fairy with all that evil power and the bad temper? Nooo, I don’t want her around. Maybe she won’t notice if we leave her off the guest list. She’s always been so REASONABLE before.
People in fairy tales are stupid. But nevermind that. Back to the gift giving ceremony. See these fairies come to give gifts to the princess, stuff like beauty and singing ability, so that if the princess thing doesn’t work out, she can still make a killing on American Idol. I’m not sure if without these gifts the princess would be ugly and tone deaf, or if they just perform enhancements, like extreme princess makeovers.
Anyway, I believe most of us are given gifts at birth. Maybe they’re not readily apparent gifts, but everyone has something they’re good at. Even evil people are pretty good at being evil. You have to give those dictators props on that one.
I know I was given gifts at birth. And I can imagine it going something like this.
First fairy comes up and swings her wand and says “I give Alice the gift of artsy fartsy! She will be able to draw well and impress everyone but art judges!” Then the second fairy steps up and whaps me with the wand and says “I give Alice the gift of writing which she can use to get two useless degrees and a blog!” And then the third fairy steps up, all prepared to give me something like the gift of total hotness, and that’s when the evil fairy my parents didn’t invite shows up. Way to go, Mom and Dad.
Evil fairy appears in a ball of fire (she likes to make an entrance) and cackles “I curse Alice with depression, so that no matter how good she is at art and writing, she will only be able to do it about half the time and she will mostly just want to sit around and whine!” It goes without saying that I really, really hate this fairy, and I do wish she’d quit visiting so many people.
But lo, there was one fairy left, right, the one who was going to give me something useful like being a total hottie, and she says “Well, you’ll still have depression, but I’ll give you these drugs that will sort of work part of the time. And I’ll give you a counselor. And I’ll give you family and friends. And I’ll even give you – a blog! Ta-da!”
Yeah, thanks a freaking lot, good fairy. I mean, yes, I guess it’s something. The fairy offered hope, and without that, none of the other gifts matter one bit. But still – I wonder why do people get this stuff? I know there is a genetic component but – why? Only pure evil would bestow such a gift on any child. For you can get through anything, even the worst diseases, the greatest tragedies, with hope. But depression seeks to rob you of that hope, for the evil fairy is more powerful than that good fairy. Which is why you must rely on those gifts, however weak they may seem.
We all have gifts, be it art, or music, or writing, or even just meaning something to somebody else. And we have to try to use those gifts, even when that evil fairy is staring down at us in dragon form, prepared to blow us away. The most important gift of all comes from the third fairy – the chubby, snarky fairy who did her best to counteract the curse. Use that fairy’s gifts – use your friends, drugs, counseling, whatever the heck works for you in order to stay awake. Do not be like Sleeping Beauty. Do not let the evil put you to sleep. There is no prince in this story.