Cinderella (1950) vs Sleeping Beauty (1959)
For this installment of Showdown! I bring you two of the most beloved Disney princess films of all times: Cinderella (1950) and Sleeping Beauty (1959).
Cinderella is a tale of a good-hearted girl whose stepmother forces her to cook, clean, and care for her stepdaughters, essentially making her a servant in her own home. Instead of letting this anger her, Cinderella remains hopeful and optimistic that one day she can escape her life of servitude. That chance comes when, with the help of some faithful friends and a fairy godmother, Cinderella gets the chance to go to the ball and meet Prince Charming; so long as she can make it back in time!
Sleeping Beauty is about another kind-hearted princess, Aurora, living with misfortune. An evil fairy, Maleficent, curses her as a child that she should die upon her 16th birthday. With the help of three fairy aunts Aurora (renamed Briar Rose) lives hidden away in the forest for 16 years unaware of her true identity. Things go amiss when Maleficent discovers her whereabouts and it’s up to Prince Philip to slay the dragon and save the princess. Both of these stories are time-honored classics but none more than Cinderella, a story beloved across many nations and shown here in pure Disney fashion.
Let’s break this down. First we have the two princesses. Both are pure-hearted, kind individuals that would be wonderful role models for young girls. Cinderella shows the power of perseverance, hard-work, and forgiveness. Sleeping Beauty, unfortunately, doesn’t see much screen time as she ends up pricking her finger and falling into a magical sleep, leaving her prince to take center stage. Cinderella clearly has better character development. As for the princes, Prince Charming may be adorable and noble but it is the charismatic Prince Philip who steals the show with his humorous relationship with his horse and determination to save his love from Maleficent.
Speaking of villains, both stories present us with incredibly formidable and time-tested ones. Lady Tremaine (Cinderella’s evil stepmother) is truly a horrible woman; condemning her stepdaughter to a life of servitude and treating her no better than an animal. But there is no one who can compare to the powerful, magical, and let’s face it, HBIC, that is Maleficent. Her dark magic is strong and her determination to right wrongs against her even stronger. Not to mention she turns into a dragon. Lastly we have the secondary characters. Both Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty have humorous and lovable secondary characters and it’s impossible to choose between them. Overall, Sleeping Beauty wins this round.
Point: Sleeping Beauty
There is no Disney animated feature that isn’t truly impressive in its design. Both Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are filled with rich colors, delightful action sequences, and personalized characters. Cinderella’s transformation scene is one of the most famous in history (and rumored to be Walt Disney’s favorite as well). Sleeping Beauty offers us a style unlike any other film with colors that can’t be recreated today. Both films are a joy to watch but Sleeping Beauty’s unique Medieval-style and truly beautiful animation comes out on top.
Point: Sleeping Beauty
Another thing Disney films never skimp on is the music. Cinderella gives us such classics as Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes, and So This is Love. Sleeping Beauty’s songs Hail to the Princess Aurora, I Wonder, and Once Upon a Dream fit in perfectly with the medieval style of the film. Sleeping Beauty was even nominated for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture at the Academy Awards. While both soundtracks and lovely you can’t deny the fame and staying power of the songs offered in Cinderella.
Both Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are time-tested animated presentations of the most beloved fairy-tales of all time. Both films offer us well-rounded characters, delightful animation, and beautiful music. Cinderella’s journey begins as an unwanted stepdaughter forced into a life of servitude and comes to a climax when, after losing her glass slipper at the ball, she is finally discovered to be the Prince’s true love and whisked away to become his Princess. Sleeping Beauty begins with baby Aurora and shows us her life after 16 years living in seclusion with her fairy aunts until she meets Prince Philip in the forest and they fall in love. When Maleficent lures Aurora under her spell, Philip and the three fairies fight an epic battle against the villain (now an intimating dragon) until he eventually slays the beast and awakens the princess with a kiss. Sleeping Beauty offers us one of the most epic climaxes in all of film. While there is hardly anything negative to be said about Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty’s story delivery takes the cake (pun intended).
Point: Sleeping Beauty
Winner: Sleeping Beauty!