Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pyotr, Walt, and Lana

When I was a child, I had a vinyl record made by Tale Spinners (released through United Artists) of the story of Sleeping Beauty. It featured the voices of talented English actors Denise Bryer, Tony Church, and John Wood, who added a weight and often a sober sense of reality. But most importantly, it featured Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty" score for the ballet of the same name, played by a pick-up group called The Hollywood Studio Orchestra. The orchestral music was a beautiful, atmospheric addition to the spoken word story, and served to further introduce me to a historical and cultural landscape that helped shape my young mind and soul. (Incidentally, I still have this record!)

Listen to the grand, dramatic "Sleeping Beauty" waltz from Tchaikovsky's suite. By turns lush, romantic, and stately, the piece wove its way throughout my story...

For the 1959 animated film "Sleeping Beauty" by Walt Disney for Disney Studios, the Tchaikovsky waltz was transformed into a song called "Once Upon A Dream," sung by Mary Costa as Princess Aurora and Bill Shirley as Prince Philip. Listen for the same melody...

And now, we come to my point: when I saw this year's Disney live action film "Maleficent" in which we see the Sleeping Beauty story told from the point of view of the "evil fairy" Maleficent, as beautifully and subtly played by Angelina Jolie (who could have chewed scenery since it is based on a cartoon), I heard during the closing credits, a chilling, haunting version of "Once Upon A Dream" by Lana Del Rey which gives a whole new sense to the story; I got goosebumps when I recognized what it was. It brings a wonderful darkness that speaks to the darkness inherent in every fairy tale. And it brings some import to a very grey story, as opposed to the black and white/good and evil approach to the 1959 film.

No comments: