Sleeping Beauty


GDR, 1970, 67 min, color
In German; no subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Production Company


The King and Queen plan an opulent feast to celebrate the birth of their long-awaited child. They invite not only the members of the court, but also the fairies, so that they may bestow wealth and virtue on the Princess. But there are thirteen fairies and only twelve golden plates – so the king instructs his messenger to leave one fairy out, the Fairy of Industry. 


Furious, the neglected fairy arrives at the celebration anyways and curses the princess: on her fifteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on a spindle and die. Another fairy steps in to save the child from death. Still, in order to punish the King for his obsession with wealth and his rude treatment of the 13th fairy, she proclaims that when Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger, the entire court will sleep for 100 years. The King orders that all spindles in the kingdom be burned, but nothing can stop the fairy's curse from taking effect


The film pays great attention to the King's self-centered and indulgent attitude towards wealth. Visually, the court is designed to look like that of Louis XIV and it is notable that his gift for his daughter’s fifteenth birthday is that he has had her face engraved on the side of a coin.  More importantly, it is the King's self-interest that brings ruin upon the kingdom; in trying to shield his daughter from the fairy's curse, he loses sight of all those whose livelihood depends on spinning.  More clearly than any other DEFA fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty shows the importance of placing the good of the collective ahead of the good of the individual. 


Also clear in this version is the conception of the modern.  The costumes of the fairies and the princess have a distinct 1970's flair, as does the music.  This is not to confuse time periods, but rather to indicate a separation between those who are stuck in their ways, like the King and his court, and those who accept the changing times, like Sleeping Beauty and the Prince. The passing of the crown from the King and Queen to Sleeping Beauty and the Prince marks the beginning of a new era – an era in which all social strata are dissolved, an era in which the kitchen maids work next to royalty to build a new and forward-thinking society.  


Shibboleth login