Always and forever, Sleeping Beauty will be my favourite Disney movie. From a purely artistic stand point, I avidly maintain that it’s the most beautifully animated film of all time. Forget 3-D, real-D, and all of these fancy-smancy computer-generated graphics. While quite remarkable at what that technology can achieve, they’re more for spectacle and a means to an end. The traditional gouache and watercolour painted slides of the Disney from an era long ago… that’s what I hold in my heart. They’re animation at its most astonishing. Each individual piece is a work of art in itself, all comprising a visually breathtaking story from start to finish.
As my ‘baby book’ can attest, one of the first things I ever dreamed of becoming when I grew up was an animator for Disney. That was “the dream” for the longest time. I was enthralled by Disney movies, and I loved to draw, so even looking back, that seems like a natural profession itty-bitty me would gravitate towards. Drawing figures, on the other hand, was (and still is) not a strength of mine. Cue slight curve ball in my plan. But, it was this movie that eventually made me realize (remember, I was 6 to perhaps 13 years old when this was “the dream”) that there was more to animation than simply the main characters. There was the entire scenery to be designed! And oh, how this delighted and enthused me.
What I think sets Sleeping Beauty apart from many others is its scenic design. Take these conceptual art paintings for example (see above and below). They’re so rich with detail down to the tiniest of cracks in a singular stone, the individual leaves on trees, or the tiny little sparkles of fairy magic drifting through the air. It’s absolutely mind-boggling the high level of skill and dedication that would have gone into every individual frame comprising an entire movie! I will agree that yes, all of the classic Disney movies portray this same astute observation of detail, and here’s where I make my case for Sleeping Beauty: tone, mood, atmosphere. This is what sets this film up on my highest of pedestals. It’s so evocative and masterfully portrays a plethora of emotions through scenery alone.
Though I am a bit of a dreamer, I’ve always been a very realistic person. I know what I can do, and what is attainable to me. After realizing just how fantastical and important the setting for the films I so worshiped actually were, I eventually shifted “the dream” to becoming a background illustrator. I wanted to be the one picking out the stone work, draping castles with fluttering fabric banners, reeling people in with the most awe-inspiring landscapes from patch-work crops as far as the eye could see, to perfectly trimmed shrubberies and vines creeping up crumbling walls. As you can see, this dream was never realized. But, I think it might be safe to say that my passion for interior design may have naturally sprung from this early desire to be a Disney background illustrator. Funny how life pieces itself together like that. So when asked what inspired me to pursue a career as an interior designer, I cite Sleeping Beauty and the wonderfully, magical world of Disney. Thank you childhood obsessions!