The prologue of the film being over, the story flashes forward to Aurora’s sixteenth birthday. The teenage princess is voiced by opera singer Mary Costa, who also stood in as the physical model for Aurora, though in the story she has been raised under the name Briar Rose by her three “aunts.”
Being an opera singer, Aurora’s singing style is something of a call back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Costa is a true soprano (as her vocal improvisation at the beginning of “I Wonder” makes perfectly clear.) On this day, her “aunts” Flora, Fauna and Merriweather need Briar Rose out of the house so that they can make a few surprises for her birthday, so the teenager is shooed out of the house to pick some berries. After Briar Rose leaves, it soon becomes obvious that the fairies have set a huge (read: impossible) task for themselves. According to Merriweather, Flora “can’t sew” and Fauna “has never cooked.” (Which really makes one wonder who’s been keeping the household running all these years.) Nevertheless, the fairies set out on their task and we’re soon following Briar Rose out into the forest.
Of all the Disney Princesses, Aurora speaks the least, and this scene in the forest marks the opening of her first song, “I Wonder.” In this song, Aurora/Briar Rose summons her animal friends by improvising a clear soprano melody. It is during this vocal introduction that we also meet the grown up Prince Philip. The prince has no idea that his betrothed is very near by, so naturally he’s curious to see the source of this gorgeous melody. As they attempt to find the singer, we go back to Aurora’s song.
Riding his faithful horse Samson
As her friends gather, the princess muses aloud about why all the animals around her have their own loved ones, but not her. She then wonders, if she keeps singing, maybe she’ll find a lover of her own (ironically the song concludes with Aurora looking wistfully at the royal castle in the distance, not knowing that she’s looking at her birthplace and rightful home.) It would seem that at sixteen years old, Aurora feels somewhat…smothered…by her well-meaning aunts who “still treat her like a child.”
Like many sixteen year old girls, Aurora wants very much to be in love, in fact she claims to have met her true love already….just in her dreams though. She seems so depressed that he isn’t real that the animals decide to do something to cheer her up. It just so happens that Prince Philip is still nearby, drying off after Samson accidentally dunks him into the river. The animals sneak off with his hat, cloak and boots and dress up the owl as her “dream prince” (much to Aurora’s amusement). This leads to the first rendition of “Once Upon a Dream” (taken directly from Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty Waltz.”) The melody is very sweet and relatively simple, with hardly any leaps at all (as can be seen in the excerpt below).
While Aurora and the animals are having their fun, Philip and Samson finally lay eyes on the mysterious singer and of course Philip falls in love at first sight. So what does the prince do? Join in the song of course!
The lovely prince and princess share a dance and then at the crucial moment when Philip asks her name, it’s only THEN that Aurora remembers that she’s not supposed to speak to strangers and runs off. Meanwhile, back at the cottage…things are going…well….not well actually.
Merriweather finally snaps and lets the others know that if they’re going to do this properly they just need to use magic. Flora finally agrees and soon enough the cake is nearly ready, the cottage is clean and the dress is almost done. There’s just one little snag…shall the dress be pink or blue? (On a side note: the running gag of changing the dress’s color stems from a real-life argument the animators had over the very same question. They simply could not agree on whether the dress should be pink or blue so they ended up doing both…in a way.)
Of course, to add to the suspense, the magical fight that breaks out between Flora and Merriweather draws the attention of Maleficent’s raven Diablo, who has been searching far and wide for the missing Aurora ever since her other minions revealed that they’ve been searching for a baby for sixteen years! Diablo peeks his head in and witnesses Aurora coming home to tell her aunts about the wonderful man she’s just met, only to hear some rather earth-shattering news (one, her name is Aurora and not Briar Rose. Two, she’s a princess and she’s going back to the royal castle tonight and three, she must NEVER see that young man again (because of course the fairies have no way of knowing who he is.)) This news delights Diablo and he rushes off to inform his mistress while Aurora, quite naturally, has an emotional breakdown. This leads to one of the most ridiculous lines I have ever heard. Merriweather turns to the others and says “And we thought she’d be so happy…” I’m sorry but, how would YOU react if everything you’d ever known your whole life turned out to be a lie? I don’t think I would be pretty happy about it personally (but that’s just me.) And remember when I said that Aurora speaks the least out of any Disney Princess? Once Aurora runs upstairs and throws herself on the bed…she doesn’t speak again for the rest of the movie!
Part 3 will see the conclusion of the movie, I hope you are enjoying this ongoing series. I should note that once the holidays hit there will probably be a hiatus of a week or two, but I appreciate everyone who’s taking the time to read this blog, you guys are awesome!!
*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios
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