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Greenlit: Fonteyn ’59: Sleeping Beauty, BBC4

Fonteyn ’59: Sleeping Beauty (1 x 60′) – Prima ballerina Darcey Bussell introduces the highlights from Sleeping Beauty, a hidden treasure of the BBC archive featuring legendary ballerina Margot Fonteyn in the leading role, in this unique performance from the 1950s. The original BBC Television version was specially produced and shot in a studio for TV broadcast but some years later footage of Act II was lost. Act II is the iconic moment when in the fairy tale ballet, the prince awakens Sleeping Beauty from her 100 year sleep with a kiss.

This special re-worked version of the ballet shows footage the rediscovered kiss sequence. Sleeping Beauty was initially shown on 20 December 1959 and was cut down in to a special edited version for television – the performance featured stars of The Royal Ballet, Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes and was filmed for the archive.

However, when the films were called up in research for the BBC Ballet Season, it became apparent that Act II was missing and the set of six film cans erroneously contained two copies of Act I. After a few months of dogged searching the BBC landed an important discovery. Film researchers came across a ‘Master set’ of six film cans, labelled as ‘A Rolls’ and, after many false starts, finally discovered the one surviving copy of the elusive Act II.

This reworked for television Sleeping Beauty is believed to be the first time British audiences will have had a chance to see extracts from the ballet including the illusive Act II since the live transmission in 1959. This rarely seen film will give viewers a glimpse of an authentic 1950s style of ballet, transporting viewers back to the living rooms of post-war Britain.

Channel: BBC4

TX: 7th March 2014

Source: BBC press release

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