The Fable of Sleeping Beauty
The character Maleficent was a Disney creation first introduced in their 1959
animated feature "Sleeping Beauty."
But the story of the princess who falls under a spell of eternal sleep has been
told since the beginning of fairytale
The story of Sleeping Beauty evolved-under different titles-over approximately
400 years (1000 if we count
some overlapping elements from medieval times). The early written origins of the
story can be traced from the
French novel "Perceforest" (author unknown), written in 1527, to a tale by
Italian storyteller Giambattista Basile
(1636) called "Sun, Moon & Talia" from a collection entitled "The Tale of
Tales," which is generally accepted as
the first collection of fairy tales ever printed.
In 1697, a version of the story called "The Beauty Asleep in the Woods" was
published by Charles Perrault in his
book, "The Tales of Mother Goose." The Brothers Grimm borrowed heavily from this
version in writing their own
1812 story of a beautiful princess awakened from a spell-induced slumber,
"Little Briar Rose."
The spinning wheel is the only consistent plot point in all the
versions of the story from the earliest to the latest. Spinning
needles or splinters of spun flax have caused deep sleep for all
the princesses in the legacy of Sleeping Beauty.
The origins of Maleficent as a female personification of evil are
less clear. Basile's story casts a queen as the jealous, vengeful
villainess but she was married to the king and not an independent
outsider who inflicts a curse on the royal family. Perrault changed
the villainess to a wicked fairy and also introduced the element
of a handsome prince whose kiss could break the spell. His version is the
closest to Disney's interpretation.
So it fell to 20th-century writers and animators and actress Eleanor Audley to
invent Maleficent for Disney's
classic "Sleeping Beauty." The film took 10 years to make and cost $6 million.
It was the most expensive movie
the studio had produced to that point in time.
Maleficent remains both the favorite and the most feared character in Disney's
gallery of infamy.
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