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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Original Matching Production Drawings of Briar Rose and Prince Phillip from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959


Original matching production drawings of Briar Rose and Prince Phillip in graphite pencil from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959; Numbered 51 and C51 in pencil lower right; Size - Briar Rose: 7 x 5 1/2",  Prince Phillip: 7 1/4 x 4 1/4", Sheets 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 Prince Phillip original production drawing.

Prince Phillip was animated by Milt Kahl and voiced by Bill Shirley and Aurora was animated by Marc Davis (who was also lead animator for Maleficent) and voiced by Mary Costa. Both Bill and Mary would be live action models for Prince Phillip and Briar Rose/Princess Aurora for the animators, and their chemistry was magical on screen. In addition, their singing together was one of the many highlights of the film. As discussed by Andreas Deja, Milt Kahl did not like the job of animating Prince Phillip:

"Some of you might know that Milt absolutely despised working on the prince. During one of our get togethers I asked him, how he could do such a beautiful job on a character he loathes. To my best recollection he said: 'Well, the character needs to be in the picture, I didn't like the assignment, but you do the best you can.'"


Close up of the production number on the Prince Phillip drawing.

The animation of Prince Phillip by Milt Kahl was radically different than prior Princes in other films. Phillip was an active character; speaking to his horse Sampson and Sampson understanding what he was saying. Phillip was also seen as a child at the start of the film, had to be animated in more than one outfit, was the first Prince to use weapons against a Villain; and had to speak, interact, and sing with his love interest Princess Aurora/Briar Rose.


Close up of the Briar Rose original 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 the production number and animation ladder of the Briar Rose drawing.

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 is rare matched pair of original production drawings of Prince Phillip and Briar Rose when they first meet in the forest. Their duet of the song "Once Upon A Dream" soon follows. The dialog for the scene is below:

Prince Phillip: "I'm awfully sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you."
Princess Aurora: "Oh, it wasn't that. Is just that you're a... a..."
Prince Phillip: "A stranger?"
Princess Aurora: "Mm-hm."
Prince Phillip: "But don't you remember? We've met before."
Princess Aurora: "We... we have?"
Prince Phillip: "But of course! You said so yourself. Once upon a dream."

To view the scene which these drawings were used to create, click on the short video below:

video