Short of the Week

Sleeping Betty

Nothing and no one can wake Princess Betty in this playful riff on fairytale conventions.

Neither bumbling witches nor tuba playing satyrs can wake Sleeping Betty from her stupor. Will a kiss from Prince Charming do the trick?

If you are fooled – as I was – by the Disney-esque opening sequence to this short animation, the New York yellow taxi cab being pulled by a trotting Victorian gentleman will soon bring you to your senses. This is no ordinary take on the Sleeping Beauty tale.

Nothing and no one can wake Princess Betty. All the zany attempts to bring her back to consciousness fail, from a giant shaking her bed to a doctor giving her derrière a medical examination. In desperation the King dials up SOS Prince Inc to save the day. Prince Charming – who looks uncannily similar to Prince Charles – is dispatched on his uber-flexible horse. But will his kiss revive the sleeping princess? Will their lips even touch?

Artist and director Claude Cloutier uses the film playfully to riff on fairytale motifs. His decision to juxtapose the modern with the magical and the artistic with the absurd brings out the original spirit of overly familiar fairytales, in which other worlds intersected with our own.

Every scene is hand drawn in brush and ink and Cloutier spent six months working on the seven thousand sketches that make up this animation. Cloutier’s background is drawing comics, and he proves successful at bringing the precision and complexity of comic strips to the screen. His exacting standards saw him pose a horse mannequin to make the absurd galloping of Prince Charming’s horse as true to life as possible.

The gags are overly drawn out, but you’ll find it difficult to suppress a smile at this cynical, surreal and ultimately cute animation.

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David is a storyteller, dreamer, vagabond and writer based in Swansea, Wales. He traveled the world hunting for a damn good story and discovered brilliant stories are everywhere. To brighten your day with more storytelling goodness you can (and should) follow David @davidgmasters
  • http://twitter.com/toscreenshots James McNally

    This is available along with dozens of other award-winning National Film Board of Canada productions on DVD and Blu-ray in the Animation Express collection. There’s also an Animation Express 2 with even more great stuff from the Great White North!

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    Silly but still entertaining—a difficult balance to strike.

  • Yayasama5

    I did like the animation style but was none too impressed with the silly antics. I found myself looking at the clock so as to get this one over with. Prince Charles look-alike? I would so not wake up either. ^^

  • Yayasama5

    I did like the animation style but was none too impressed with the silly antics. I found myself looking at the clock so as to get this one over with. Prince Charles look-alike? I would so not wake up either. ^^

  • Yayasama5

    I did like the animation style but was none too impressed with the silly antics. I found myself looking at the clock so as to get this one over with. Prince Charles look-alike? I would so not wake up either. ^^

  • Martin Reyes

    I like animation and irony, And this is the perfect combination. Enjoyable!

  • Thain Gar

    It IS funny and entertaining but I don’t feel like I got anything out of this. If the main purpose was to entertain, it did it pretty well, but if it was trying to imply anything, I have no idea what it wants to say.

  • Sorele Doh

    What exactly does Prince Charles have to do with this?