Maleficent: The Good Witch

Actually, she’s not even a witch, according to the new Disney film. She is a fairy. The most powerful of all the fairies.

Maleficent

Disney’s Maleficent is the “true” story of Sleeping Beauty. I won’t spoil it for you, but basically King Stefan is Maleficent’s greatest enemy, and she curses his daughter with the classic curse we all know today. But as Sleeping Beauty grows in the forest, Maleficent watches her and becomes fond of her, but she cannot break the curse she has made, for “no power on earth shall break this curse”…not even hers. True love’s kiss comes not from the dashing young prince, but from Aurora’s “fairy godmother”: Maleficent.

Yes the story is mixed up and changed. Some were changed for the good, as I thought that some of the original story had holes, and those were patched up nicely. The Moors, as the kingdom of mystical animals is called, was pretty amazing. The conflict between the human kingdom and the Moors was well displayed. And the characterization was good throughout the movie. There was well-placed comic relief and interesting twists. Like Maleficent’s raven in the original Disney motion picture. Maleficent transformed the raven into different beings, like a human or a raven or a dragon or a wolf. I thought that was creative! Plus it didn’t isolate Maleficent so, as she was in the original. She lived in an old abandoned castle ruin with only a bird. But in this movie she actually socialized. Not only Diablo (her raven/human/whatever she wanted it to be), but the whole Moors was at her service. She actually had a kingdom of her own. This was much more believable to me, for sure.

Maleficent then&now

Then and now. The 1959 Walt Disney Sleeping Beauty captured Maleficent as a horned witch who could transform into a dragon and wants to be the ruler of the kingdom. No one can trump classics. But one can add to a classic story. That’s what Disney did for this film. Angelina Jolie adds more to our beloved villain. Backstory. Meaning to her maliciousness. Jolie is a brilliant actor. And my favorite scene is just her in a swamp. Stefan had cut off her wings while she slept. She wakes up in agony, pain, shock, anger, fright, all of the above and more. Her scream is terrifying and emotional. You can nearly feel the throbbing pain sealing the gashes on her back. Jolie puts on an amazing performance.

Maleficent

I only wish I had a clip to show you, but for the life of me I couldn’t find one. Anyways, that’s probably my favorite part of the movie.

Maleficent and Aurora

Here’s a fun story. Did you know that the actress for 5-year-old Aurora was actually Jolie’s daughter? Yep. Turns out the original casting for 5-year-old Aurora was too scarred of Maleficent’s costume. So they had to get Vivienne Jolie-Pitt to play the part instead. I mean, she’s a cute kid; I think she worked out just fine. But behind-the-scene-stories are always fun.

Maleficent and Stefan

Yes, I do have a lot of critique, because Sleeping Beauty is a classic fairy tale. Think about it: if our children grow up watching a remake of a fairy tale that isn’t at all like the original, they will never experience the TRUE story with the OLD-FASHIONED animation and the actual story where good and evil have a fine-line boundary. The whole movie, we are on Maleficent’s side. That’s not necessarily a good thing, since she’s evil most of the movie.

I know, I know. Its a new thing coming out in movies, where we are on the bad-guy’s side and they turn good in the end. I’m just not used to it. Yet. But that’s why my number one critique in this movie is that King Stefan and the human world is portrayed as TOO evil. It is gradual, but eventually the humans are just evil.Heck you’d think Stefan is freaking Voldemort by the end. He’s Princess Aurora’s father for heaven’s sake! I understand his motives for wanting the Moors and Maleficent destroyed, but I think he becomes a little too obsessed with it. I can’t help but think it had to do with making Maleficent look like the “good guy” near the end. Granted, it did make a fine line between good and evil…but just in the wrong way. I think it could have been done differently.

And another big critique I have is the narrator. At the end, you learn that Sleeping Beauty is the narrator of the whole story. I’m not exaggerating: that ruined the whole movie for me. Honestly, since Maleficent was portrayed as the good guy, it would have been really cool if Maleficent would have narrated the story. That way the whole movie could have been a bias point of view of the way things happened and AND–wait for it–there would still be value in the old Disney animation classic. To me, since Sleeping Beauty narrated Maleficent, that means the old classic told it wrong. But if Maleficent had been Maleficent’s actual biased point of view, we could have 2 different sides of the story and, admit it, that’d be pretty cool.

But alas it didn’t happen that way. Other small critiques I have matter less to the story as it did to director’s preference. They could have picked another Aurora, as Elle Fanning looked a little too young and too ditsy to be a 16-year-old princess. I liked the way they did Maleficent–good acting, good lines, good characterization–but I think sometimes they were making her a little too baddass and sexy. That must be a culture thing.

Oh and just a question for those who have seen it…

the fairies

If King Stefan and the humans hated the Moors creatures so much…why did he trust these three fairies to bless his newborn daughter of whom he was so protective? Just a thought.

Anyway.

sleeping beauty

From Maleficent’s marvelous, dominant wings, to Princess Aurora’s trustful, intriguing smile, Maleficent is certainly one of the modern Disney movies I would see again. You can’t say that of all live-action Disney films of the past few years. Disney did a decent job of keeping the classic fairy tale alive and spicing it up with a few new twists. I would certainly recommend it.

From the Moors and back,

J.L. Cordova

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