Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Original Production Drawing of Briar Rose from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959

Original production drawing of Briar Rose in graphite pencil from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959; Numbered E33 in pencil lower right and has the word "ROMANTIC" upper center right with lines over and under the "A" showing the sound that she is pronouncing; Size - Briar Rose 6 x 2 3/4", Sheet 12 1/2 x 15 1/2"; Unframed.

"Sleeping Beauty," the 1959 Walt Disney full length motion picture, introduced two characters that would become universal favorites; Maleficent and Princess Aurora. Aurora, along with Snow White and Cinderella would be forever immortalized in the public's view as the three greatest Disney Princesses. The original design for Aurora and her peasant disguise Briar Rose was developed by Tom Oreb, who based the character on the famed Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn; known for her thin frame and a very graceful demeanor. Marc Davis, the head animator, would continue the development process by morphing her general appearance and the clothing of the heroine. The fine tuning of the character continued so that she could be combined with the very angular forms present in the Eyvind Earle hand painted backgrounds.

As with other Disney films, an actress was hired as a live-action model (as a guide for the animators) for Princess Aurora/Briar Rose. Helene Stanley, who was also the model for Cinderella in 1950, became the model for the heroine. It is interesting to note that prior to marrying Marc Davis in 1956, Alice (Davis) designed some of costumes worn by Stanley in her acting role in "Sleeping Beauty." 

Close up of the Briar Rose production drawing.

In 1952, the professional opera singer Mary Costa, after meeting people at a party with her future husband director Frank Tashlin, auditioned for the part of Disney's Princess Aurora/Briar Rose. Walt Disney called her personally within hours of the audition to inform her that the part was hers. The success of the film "Sleeping Beauty," owes a chuck of those accolades to the voice of Mary Costa. Her songs were some of the most beautiful ever sung by a Disney Princess. In November 1999 Mary Costa received the Disney Legends Award, and her handprints are now a permanent part of the Disney Legends Plaza at the entrance to Walt Disney Studios.

Close up of "ROMANTIC" with the "A" being the sound made by Briar Rose in this drawing.

Close up of the production number.

After Maleficent's evil curse that Princess Aurora would (before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday) prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die; the three Good Fairies disguise Aurora as a peasant named Briar Rose and hide her deep in a remote forest cottage. The majority of the movie focuses on Briar Rose, and the sequences of her meeting Prince Phillip and singing are some of the most beautiful in the film. This drawing is when Rose is speaking with her forest animal friends and is dreaming of meeting a Prince. She reaches up to pick a berry off of a tree and she is saying the "A" sound in the word ROMANTIC. The dialog for the scene is below:

Princess Aurora: "But you know something? I fooled them. I have met someone."
Owl: "Who? Who?"
Princess Aurora: "Oh, a prince."
Princess Aurora: "Well, he's tall and handsome, and... and so romantic."

To view the scene which this drawing was used to create, click on the short video below: