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‘Sleeping Beauty’ Joins National Film Registry

Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty


North America

‘Sleeping Beauty’ Joins National Film Registry

The traditionally animated Disney classic Sleeping Beauty was the sole representative of toon history to make this year’s list of National Film Registry inductees, alongside a more-diverse-than-usual array of titles including Prince’s Purple Rain, Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It and LGBTQ rights documentary Before Stonewall by Greta Schiller and co-director Robert Rosenberg. The oldest title on the 2019 list is Thomas Edison’s short film of Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island (1903); the most recent is 100 years younger: Robert S. McNamara’s Oscar winner documentary The Fog of War (2003).

Sleeping Beauty (1959) is a musical adaptation of the Charles Perrault fairytale, crafted by golden age animators — including Eric Larson, Wolfgang Reitherman, Les Clark, Frank Thoas, Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis, Milt Kahl and John Lounsbery — under supervising director Clyde Geronimi at the Walt Disney studio. The picture voice starred Mary Costa as Aurora, Eleanor Audley as Maleficent (also Lady Tremaine in Cinderella and Madame Leota in Disney’s Haunted Mansion), Verna Felton, Barbara Jo Allen and Barbara Luddy as the Fairies, and Bill Shirley as Prince Phillip.

Stepping away from the Rococo inspirations of Cinderella, this mid-century masterpiece drew on visual inspiration from Medieval art and Art Deco design, exemplified in the jewel-toned background paintings of Eyvind Earle. It was the first animated feature produced for Super Technirama 70mm. Sleeping Beauty was awarded the Best Scoring of a Musical Oscar, to composer George Bruns.

The National Film Registry was started at the inception of the U.S. National Film Preservation Board in 1988 and now contains 775 titles. Other animated films which have made the cut are Disney’s Cinderella (1950, added in 2018), Dumbo (1941, 2017), The Lion King (1994, 2016), Bambi (1942, 2011), Beauty and the Beast (1991, 2002), Pinocchio (1940, 1994), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937, 1989), Fantasia (1940, 1990), The Three Little Pigs (1933, 2007), Steamboat Willie (1928, 1998) and hybrid musical Mary Poppins (1964, 2013); Pixar’s Toy Story (1995, 2005), Luxo Jr. (1986, 2014) and Tin Toy (1988, 2003); Chuck Jones’ One Froggy Evening (1955, 2003), Duck Amuck (1953, 1999) and What’s Opera, Doc? (1952, 1992); Bob Clampett’s Porky in Wackyland (1938, 2000); Fleischer Studios’ Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor (1936, 2004); UPA’s Gerald McBoing-Boing (1951, 1995); Anthony Rizzo’s Duck and Cover (1951, 2004); Winsor McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur (1914, 1991); Ed Catmull and Fred Parke’s A Computer Animated Hand (1972, 2011) and Robert Zemeckis’ hybrid noir-comedy Who Framed Framed Roger Rabbit (1988, 2016).

2019 National Film Registry additions (alphabetical order):
Amadeus (1984)
Becky Sharp (1935)
Before Stonewall (1984)
Body and Soul (1925)
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Clerks (1994)
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island (1903)
Employees Entrance (1933)
The Fog of War (2003)
Gaslight (1944)
George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute (1937)
Girlfriends (1978)
I Am Somebody (1970)
The Last Waltz (1978)
My Name Is Oona (1969)
A New Leaf (1971)
Old Yeller (1957)
The Phenix City Story (1955)
Platoon (1986)
Purple Rain (1984)
Real Women Have Curves (2002)
She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Zoot Suit (1981)


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