As Disney fans, we are all familiar with the classic Disney animated film Sleeping Beauty. It’s hard to forget the stylized backgrounds, beautiful melodies, and cast of fantastical fairies that make Walt Disney’s 16th animated tale so memorable. Originally released in theaters January 1959, Sleeping Beauty’s popularity has seen a resurgence with the recent release of Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie. New and old fans alike are experiencing the tale of Briar Rose in a whole new way! With the help of Disney Editions most recent book Once Upon a Dream: From Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty to Disney’s Maleficent by Charles Solomon, Maleficent audiences are rediscovering why Walt Disney’s original vision has stood the test of time.
Author Charles Solomon investigates the intricacies of Sleeping Beauty, from concept to screen, in his newest book Once Upon a Dream, released June 17, 2014. Measuring 12” x 9.5” x 1” and 176 pages, Solomon’s latest book is appropriately sized for the coffee table and/or bookshelf. Typical of the author’s previous works, Once Upon a Dream is deeply researched and full of new information, even for the most die hard Disney fans. In fact, one of the many great aspects of this book is that it is not a rehashing of common known information but a fount of previously unheard stories.
Once Upon a Dream is broken into three main parts; La Belle au Bois Dormant, Hail to the Princess Aurora, Maleficent. Following a similar format to Solomon’s other works, text is strategically placed alongside striking artwork throughout the inception of the fairytale, through the animation process, and the most current film. In my opinion, the book focuses primarily on the origins of the fairytale and the animated Disney film. This is in no way a downfall. In fact, the first two sections lay a wonderful foundation that allow the reader to have a fuller enjoyment of Maleficent. There is approximately 60 pages devoted to the new live action film that are full of still frames and interviews with the cast and crew.
For myself, the true treasure of Once Upon a Dream is found in the second section, Princess Aurora. Here, Solomon takes the reader deep into The Walt Disney Company of the 1940s to paint the picture of how the animated film was created (no pun intended!) Wonderful quotes from many of Disney’s famed Nine Old Men, amazing concept art from Eyvind Earle, and animation sketches fill the pages creating a clear picture of Sleeping Beauty‘s creation. One of my favorite parts of this section (and there were many) were the Marc Davis illustrations. It was amazing how these pencil sketches seemed to jump off the page more than the vibrant, colorful background concepts. Solomon truly included perfect visual examples that connect cohesively with the adjoining text.
Whether you are a fan of the animated film or the new live action drama, do yourself a favor and purchase Charles Solomon’s book Once Upon a Dream: From Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty to Disney’s Maleficent. You will learn interesting facts, hear/read quotes directly from the men who animated the picture, and thoroughly enjoy each and every page.