Come once upon a dream with me as we investigate Disney’s 16th animated feature, “Sleeping Beauty”. Released in 1959, this film was meant to be a masterpiece. Intricate detail was put into the animation and backgrounds. Two versions of the film were made: a widescreen version and a regular version. And to top it all off, this was the most expensive animated Disney film to date! Walt and his crew were hoping for this to be a success! Was it? No!
Like “Alice in Wonderland”, this film was not an initial success, but rather saw box office profits through future re-releases. The underperformance of this film was the reason that Walt decided not to make another animated film based on a fairy tale again. And the Disney Studios would not make an animated film based on a fairy tale until 1989’s “The Little Mermaid”.
But now, this film is a cult classic and is especially known for its characters. Well, only one character exceeds the expectations of the film and that is the villain, Maleficent!
No, not that one! This is the REAL Maleficent in my book!
I personally am not obsessed with this villain, but do agree that she deserves the honor that she is given. What other characters are famous in this film? Well, we have the titular sleeping beauty herself, Aurora aka Briar Rose,
the handsome prince (who’s also the first Disney prince to be named other than “Charming”), Prince Phillip,
the good fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather,
and the royalty themselves.
The kings, King Stefan and King Hubert are somewhat memorable due to their voice acting and actual time allotted to see them. But our forgotten/minor character is the Queen! King Stefan’s wife and Aurora’s mother, Queen Leah, actually is pretty much ignored, overlooked, and underused in this film. That’s a shock that someone royal could be forgotten in a Disney film!
Queen Leah is only given one line of dialogue (if memory serves me correctly) and mystery surrounds her character. First of all, her name is virtually unknown. She’s not named in the film nor in character development sheets; but the studios have said that she was meant to be named Leah, so we’ll take that as a fact.
Secondly, there is ambiguity surrounding her voice actress. The Disney Studios themselves are unsure of her identity, but IMDB and Wikipedia (probably because of IMDB) have listed Verna Felton as the Queen’s voice.
And that’s pretty much all we can say about this shady, yet important character. She’s royalty, but forgotten. She shares a mother/daughter hug with Princess Aurora at the end of the film,
yet barely has any lines of sorrow to give. She definitely deserves better and that’s why I’m recognizing her with the title of forgotten/minor character for this film!