Perhaps The Legionnaire is bigger than even I realize? It could be that in quantity of reviews, anyway. When somebody recently suggested on social media that I review Disenchanted (2022), it came with the caveat that I should first watch Enchanted (2007). Fine, says I, who am I to deny all my fan. . . ? I liked neither of them, but dutiful wrote an article about each. Then, when I went to post what I had to say about Enchanted, I found that Cameron had already covered it. I am glad he did, but I had forgotten. This meant the time I spent not only in watching it, but taking the time to type something about it, had all been a waste. I apologize if you like those movies. They are not aimed at me, so I hope you can excuse somewhat my attitude. At any rate, since I am on a fairy tale kick, why not do Sleeping Beauty (1959)?
There is a stereotype about Disney princesses and being an orphan. That is not entirely the case with Sleeping Beauty. While I wonder why Princess Aurora’s (voiced by Mary Costa) parents, King Stefan (voiced by Taylor Holmes) and Queen Leah (no voice, apparently), would let their long-awaited child be raised so far from them by three ditzy fairies in the woods, the film does offer an explanation. Those three ditzes are Flora (voiced by Verna Felton), Fauna (voiced by Barbara Jo Allen), and Merryweather (voiced by Barbara Luddy). They are present when the baby Auora is first presented in court, and each grant the child three magical gifts: beauty, the ability to sing, and. . . . Well, the last is interrupted by the arrival of another magical person, this time representing evil, Maleficent (voiced by Eleanor Audley). Why her being there is tolerated, I do not know, but she sticks around long enough for her to utter a strange and oddly specific curse against the child. If Princess Aurora is pricked on the finger by the needle of a spinning wheel on her sixteenth birthday, she will be cast into a death like slumber. Following Maleficent’s exit, they realize that Merryweather still has her gift to grant. To hopefully mitigate the ramifications of Maleficent’s work, she has Princess Aurora to be able to be wakened by true love’s first kiss. This is not enough protection in their view. With royal approval, they decide to smuggle Princess Aurora out of the castle to be raised in the woods without magic until after the day of her sixteenth birthday. Upon the end of this period, she will be returned to her parents and presumably live happily ever after, and hopefully with her betrothed to-be, Prince Phillip (voiced by Bill Shirley). Time passes and now it is the appointed day. The three fairy godmothers (and why they bother with this title, I do not know) are attempting to do a little birthday surprise for their beloved Briar Rose, the name they gave her growing up. This involves them making a dress and a cake, sans wands, a task for which they are woefully ill-prepared. To not spoil their work, they have Aurora go out berry picking with reminders about what are apparently standing orders to not talk to anyone. As this unfolds, Maleficent is railing against her minions for not being able to find Aurora. Hence, she turns to her trusted raven to search for a beautiful young maiden with an exceptional set of pipes. As it flies over the countryside, who should conveniently wander into the same woods as Princess Aurora but Prince Phillip. He hears her serenading the local wildlife about knowing a prince “Once Upon a Dream,” and butts in on the animals dancing with her. One moment she is shocked, the next they are in love . . . because that is how fairy tales work, so there! They do not know one another’s true identities, or names even, but they are in love. She requests that he meet her later at the cottage she has been sharing with her godmothers. However, when she returns, though initially delighted with their efforts, she is immediately downcast when they take this opportunity to tell their Briar Rose her real identity and that she must marry another. She is sad because, darn it, it just isn’t fair! Still, she dutifully goes along with them to the castle, unaware that Maleficent’s raven has learned their location. Meanwhile, the castle is being prepared for the return of the beloved Princess Aurora. King Stefan and Prince Phillip’s father, King Hubert (voiced by Bill Thompson), are toasting the uniting of their nations. The last thing they need is King Hubert’s dimwitted son announcing he will be getting hitched to a peasant girl . . . oh, wait. So, Prince Phillip rides off not knowing that his goal is back in the castle. Also, there is Maleficent, who puts Princess Aurora in a trance at the convenient moment when the fairy godmothers are out of the room. This leads to her finger being pricked on a spinning wheel, of course. You had one job, fairy godmothers, ONE JOB! As Princess Aurora falls into her title state, the fairy godmothers do the responsible thing. No, wait, they behave like children and decide to cover up their mistake by putting everyone in the castle into a sleep. For good measure, Maleficent has captured Prince Phillip. Now, it is down to people named Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather to rescue the hunk of noble man-meat. Once they have done so, they conjure enchanted weapons for him and watch him plow through, er, deadly anthropomorphic pigs, a giant thornbush, and Maleficent in dragon form in order to give Princess Aurora’s the above-mentioned smacker. Everyone wakes up and our couple presents themselves to their delighted parents. The end.
The benefit of watching Sleeping Beauty for a guy like me is that it is short. Seventy-five minutes is a God-send, especially when you are as tired as I have been lately. Enough about me. I may have talked about this in other reviews, but I am a little puzzled by calling Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather godmothers. Setting aside for the moment the fact that they are sorceresses, and by all appearances addicted to magic, we never see a baptism. That is the whole purpose behind having godparents in the first place. Now, I will credit our three for being dedicated to doing good. That seems to be a guiding principle behind using their powers. God could, in His wisdom, grant somebody the ability to do similar things. I would pray that if this happened (as completely unlikely as it is) that they would use it for the benefit of others. At the same time, a godparent is meant to be a spiritual guide for their godchild. They should not take the place of the actual mother and father in this capacity, unless unfortunate circumstances make this a necessity. With all this in mind, I cannot imagine Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather fulfilling these duties. Remember, too, that this film was made in 1959. We like to think of that decade as a period of entrenched conservative values when being something like a godparent could be taken at face value. Instead, we get the lip service of this film, a sad trend that continues to this day. I simply wish this is a role that was taken more seriously.
Well, I can cross another classic Disney movie off the list now that I have seen Sleeping Beauty. It is not a bad movie. I am sure kids and other kindred spirits will enjoy it. I find it to be dumb.