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Much like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty is another well known fairy tale that Disney adopted. Also like it, the original version was cleansed of many of the more violent and disturbing portions. The story is based on an earlier, Italian fairy tale, “Sola, Luna, e Talia” (“Sun, Moon, and Talia”).

In that version, the princess was not awakened by a kiss. Rather, a king who was out hunting stumbles across her sleeping and, when unable to rouse her, rapes her, impregnating her with twins which she bears while still asleep. When unable to suckle, one instead sucks on her finger drawing out the flax that put her to sleep and she awakens. The queen eventually finds out about this and, instead of having any ire for the king, decides that the children should be cooked and eaten, but the cook substitutes lamb. The fake feast is served to the king. Still, the queen decides to have Talia burned at the stake, but the king discovers this and has the queen burned instead and then marries Talia.

The story ends with the lines: “Lucky people, so ’tis said, He who has luck may go to bed, And bliss will rain upon his head.”

The moral? If you’re lucky, you can be a rapist and good things will happen!

Yes. This is what Disney is based on.

But things were changed. Like the name of the princess. She is now named Aurora after the morning dawn…. Of course, aurorae have nothing to do with the dawn. Rather they are glowing interactions when charged particles blown off the sun during highly energetic electromagnetic events and then funneled down through the Earth’s atmosphere, mostly at the poles, by magnetic fields. When they strike the particles in our atmosphere, it ionizes them and upon recombination, light is emitted.

Typically, this phenomenon is limited to the far northern latitudes, but when the Sun gets really violent, they can be seen at much lower latitudes. Just last year, a good solar storm made them visible here in Missouri where I spotted them as a glowing red cloud in the Northern sky. In 1859, there was a solar storm that was so large aurorae were even seen at latitudes as low as the Caribbean! This was known as the Carrington event and was caused by a solar flare that was so bright, it was visible to the naked eye.

Anyway, the princess’ name again changes as she’s adopted by three fairy godmothers who call her Briar Rose to hide her from the evil Maleficent who is a self described mistress of all evil. Maleficent is a character that I quite like, ultimately because of her major role in the Kingdom Hearts series.

She puts a curse on the pricess that will cause her to die when she pricks her finger on a spinning wheel on her 16th birthday. But one of the fairy godmothers weakens the curse with her magic making her fall asleep until kissed by her True Love™.

On her 16th birthday, when Maleficent’s curse is to come true, the fairy godmothers finally use their magic to make her a cake and a dress, but it ends up tipping Maleficent off and she ensures the girl finds the spindle.

The fairy godmothers realize they stole the girl away from her family for 16 years and dropped the ball at the last second, decide to stage a cover up by putting the entire kingdom to sleep. Which makes little sense. The princess was already betrothed to the prince. So why would the fairy godmother have required that the kiss be from some stranger and not him? Did she realize right then that the prince wasn’t likely to be in any way in love with her (despite the blessing of beauty and singing from the other two fairies) and that it was truly a marriage of convenience?

If so, then how did they ever expect the true love to find her?

It’s a weak plot point.

But they eventually figure out that the prince, fortunately, happens to be her True Love™, and hasten to rescue him giving him a sword and shield. He hastens to the princess’ rescue and doesn’t rape her, but instead, kisses her, which is still sexual assault. But she retroactively gives consent which I guess makes it more acceptable. Especially since they live Happily Ever After with a distinct lack of eating children.

The art in the movie is very well done in my opinion. It’s one of the more visually attractive movies as I see it. That, combined with the music, makes it a definite favorite. “Once Upon a Dream” is an absolutely gorgeous song. So much so, that at Naka Kon this year, we included it in our formal ball, even though it didn’t fit the main theme of the convention of being from a Japanese anime or video game.

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