Monday, February 29, 2016

Sleeping Beauty: Disney vs Perrault

This month I'm focusing on Sleeping Beauty. So let's dive in and look at the differences in the tales by Charles Perrault and the Grimm brothers and the 1959 Disney animated movie.

Both the Perrault and Grimm story versions contain more fairies (8 and 13 respectively), whereas Disney chose to focus on four: three good and one evil. And while both Perrault and the Grimms chose to mention how the King and Queen struggled to conceive a child, this is left out of the animated version.

The story of how the fairies were invited vary in the print versions, but the "evil" fairy always bestows her curse before the final fairy has given her blessing. Disney leaves out the invitation part, but the gift bestowing seems to match well with Perrault and Grimm.

Disney lets us see Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora's first meeting (he as a young boy and she a baby), using the traditional promising of marriage to form an alliance, something neither text makes mention of.

The pricking of the finger on the spindle is the same in all stories, but Disney sets up a unique villainess in Maleficent. Neither of these tales mention a dragon or have the prince slay any creatures to rescue the princess. Instead,  the tales penned by Perrault and the Grimm brothers, have one hundred years pass before a prince from a foreign land finds the princess and wakes her. There are some other versions where the prince/king who finds the Sleeping Beauty behave very dishonorably, but that is not the case in these two tales.

Henry Meynell Rheam
Disney's version of things after the finger pricking creates a completely new version of the tale. Prince Phillip, Aurora's betrothed and her mystery man from the woods, slays the dragon and saves the girl he loves.

For me, while quite different than the original tales, the addition of defeating the dragon and the nod to the "true love conquers all" theme make for a wonderful change (one I played off of in Quest of the Hart). 

Disney gives a nice nod to the Grimm Brother's by having Aurora use the name Briar Rose while in hiding (this is the name the Grimm's used after the spell took place.)

The biggest difference I noticed was in the ending. Disney's ending followed the Grimm brother's ending more than Perrault's. In the Perrault tale, the prince and princess spend time getting to know each other before marrying and reaching their happy-ever-after.

What differences did you notice in the stories and film adaptation? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and don't forget to stop back next week to see what I learned about women in the workplace in 1959.


  1. One of the most interesting changes for me was the fleshing out/creation of the great villain of Millificent as the evil fairy in the Disney version. She is such a dynamic villain, and has become an icon herself. Loving this series, Mary!

    1. I agree. The fleshing out/addition of Maleficent was a great choice. And thanks! Glad you're enjoying them :-)

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