Yesterday I had the chance to watch Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” for the first time. When it originally came out in 1959, I wasn’t even born (my parents hadn’t even met). Now I’ve got one question: What the hell is it with this prince?
I know the story of Sleeping Beauty, like most German children my age I grew up with the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. I always liked it (especially as the thorn bushes around the castle in the fairy tale are deadly and kill princes by the dozen). And I must admit I rather liked Maleficent. The design, the character and the powers are something not too usual for a fairy, good or evil.
On the whole I liked the Disney story, too. It works out quite nicely, although it’s a tad unrealistic to sent your daughter away to live somewhere in the woods when there’s a mortal danger she’s in. What I really had a problem with, though, was the prince ... or rather the way the whole escape and ‘fighting the dragon’ business is concerned.
Admittedly, if you’re the prince of another classic Disney tale like “Snow White” or “Cinderella”, you have it easy. All you have to do is kiss a dead girl or find the only woman whom a glass slipper fits (as if there were just one in a whole kingdom, really, but you can’t blame that on Disney, it’s in the fairy tale). Fighting a dragon (or a prince-eating, deadly hedge of thorn bushes in the original tale) is a bit harder and more dangerous than that. But others did it.
And what does this prince do? Well, he tries, but without the three fairy godmothers, he’d be dragon toast even before leaving Maleficent’s castle. Does he get anything done by himself? No, not really. It’s their magic which gets him out (not just of the chains, but also out of the castle as a such) and which later on guides the sword to the deadly weak point of dragon-Maleficent. From a movie created in the 1950s, a time when traditional role models were still firmly in everyone’s mind (and dragon slaying still was men’s business), I would have expected more.
I liked the style of the movie, but neither of the main characters (Aurora is just too much of a ‘typical’ passive Disney princess and the prince is ... well ...) could really fascinate me - except for Maleficent, but I do have a weak point for baddies.
If all princes were like this one, a lot of princesses would have been eaten by dragons or locked away in towers forever - and the fairy godmothers of all fairy tales would be doing overtime. Time for Aurora and all the others to learn how to rescue themselves.
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