Hanna Lafferty ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
Maleficent is a retelling of the Disney animated classic Sleeping Beauty. Angelina Jolie plays the title character, complete with horns and a delightfully wicked laugh. Elle Fanning co-stars in the role of Princess Aurora. The wicked fairy from Sleeping Beauty is given a chance to tell her side of the story and to reveal the reasons surrounding her bitterness towards Princess Aurora. While many Disney fans know her as the cruel villain who cursed a young child as payback for not receiving a party invitation, the synopsis provides an origin story. Here director Robert Stromberg presents a different take on Maleficent as a kind young woman who grows bitter in trying to protect her home from invaders.
There are many iconic images featured in the Maleficent trailer from the original fairy tale: Princess Aurora exploring a room filled with spindles and, of course, the forest of giant thorns that Maleficent summons.
However, the three good fairies who were a comedic staple in the animated movie, are absent from the trailer as well as the hero, Prince Philip. This feels like a very deliberate move by Stromberg. The original story focuses very little on Princess Aurora outside of the curse, and the only time that the princess interacts with Maleficent is as an infant. The dynamic of this movie is moving away from the original romance/adventure tale that made “Sleeping Beauty” thrilling but also lacking in any character development. The trailer hints that Maleficent has a much more complicated relationship with the princess than what is apparent in the Disney classic.
In the trailer Maleficent and Princess Aurora cross paths in the wood and Aurora asks the hidden Maleficent to come out of the shadows. The princess is under the impression that Maleficent is actually a guardian who has followed her since childhood. This moment presents the line of good and evil, so clear in the original story, as blurred. One might say the princess is naïve for not suspecting any evil intention from this dark stranger, but with Maleficent’s newly revealed history, who is to say that she doesn’t have some small affection for this being? Regardless of whether or not Maleficent’s watchful eye on the princess is malevolent or not, there is no denying the connection these two share through the curse. It will be interesting to see the twists and turns this retelling will take in the relationship they have with one another and whether or not Maleficent has a chance at redemption.
Overall, this movie looks like it will be a beautiful production from the costumes to the scenery, and very heavy on CGI. Jolie’s silhouette as the evil fairy is in close keeping with the animated version, right down to her sharp facial features and magical staff. She glides across the screen as the definition of dark and dangerous. It will be interesting to see the new dimensions this character will reach as a person beyond the two-dimensional villain that helped shape the ensuing generations’ idea of “evil.”
Maleficent will be worth to watch not just because it’s easy on the eyes, but also as proof of how Disney has grown in maturity over the years. This is a giant leap from the “Sleeping Beauty” classic in character development and in perspective. Instead of simply redoing the animated movie in a gritty version from Princess Aurora’s viewpoint or keeping with the traditional quest trope through Prince Philip’s perspective, Disney has undertaken the task of making one of their own iconic villains human and relatable. Maleficent will not only face consequences for her actions, but will also have a chance to explain her reasons and maybe even earn a chance to save herself from her mistakes. It will be worthwhile to see Disney redefine its black and white idea of good and evil through such a famous story.