Not Your Mama’s Fairytale
As a child, my favorite Disney film had been Sleeping Beauty. I was captivated by it, hypnotized by the vibrant colors and the elaborate landscapes. Pink or blue, it didn’t matter. My young heart was enchanted by the young Princess Aurora and her three skilled protectors. To this day, I can still remember the countless rainy days I spent watching the timeless classic. I can envision the worse for wear video tape, encased in its rainbow-colored cover, with my grandfather’s handwriting neatly scrawled on the label. When I arrived at the theatre to see Maleficent, I knew there was no way it could ever come close to Disney’s infamous storyline or the original persona of its villainess. How could it? I knew there was no way they were going to keep it canon, but I didn’t think the re-imagined tale would take such a drastic and shocking turn. Warning, major spoilers ahead!
Normally, I hate to give away crucial plot points in a review, but I find it a necessity, since the fault of the film lies heavily within its arduous writing.
Maleficent, like many films before it, emphasizes the humanistic side of its “villain.” In this case, a promising young fairy who has been unjustly wronged. Unfortunately, the film explains the change from good to evil in the most stereotypical, unimaginative way possible.
As the story goes, Maleficent falls in love with a boy from the other side of the realm. You may know him as Stefan. Stefan, well, he is a bit of a megalomaniac; and when a better opportunity comes along, he cuts off Maleficent’s wings and dumps her ass faster than you can say, “Seriously?” Brokenhearted, Maleficent elects herself the queen of magical folk and – for lack of a better word – goes bat-crap-crazy.
When the news breaks that Stefan and his new wife have welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Maleficent plots her revenge. In the only scene that recognizes and honors Disney’s original film – copies it almost verbatim – Maleficent bestows her “gift” upon the child named Aurora. Only, she doesn’t seem to be committed to her scheme. “…Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and…Um, fall asleep? Forever? No! No. I mean…until she receives true loves kiss. Yeah. Yeah, that’s what I meant” (I may have taken some creative license, but the sentiment is still the same).
Of course, this would be fine and dandy, except Maleficent seems to be going through some kind of identity crisis. Unsatisfied with the way Aurora’s three nitwit pixie guardians are looking after her, Maleficent takes it upon herself to look after the child. That’s not all, though. Maleficent and Aurora become friends! Best friends. Besties.
You may be saying, “Kim, what’s wrong with that? It may not be the story you wanted to see, but it could turn around in the end.”
In any other circumstance, I’d probably agree with you. However, what happens next takes this superficial redemption story to another level entirely.
On the day of her sixteenth birthday, Aurora accidentally discovers the truth about Maleficent and runs home to daddy. Big mistake. The prophecy comes true. Enter Maleficent, stage left. The reformed baddy delivers Prince Phillip – Aurora’s one true love – to the sleeping girl, attempting to save her from her foreseen fate. Slowly, her Prince approaches, delicate in his movements. His kiss, tender and adoring, sweet and affectionate. His kiss…his kiss…doesn’t work?
Maleficent sighs in defeat, silently consoling her friend. Gently, she places a kiss upon the girl’s forehead as a final goodbye. Suddenly, Aurora’s eyes open. The curse is broken! The Mad King is defeated, Maleficent gets her wings back, and everyone lives happily ever after.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m so partial to Disney’s first attempt or the fact that they deviated from the fundamental storyline to the extent that they did, but that has to be the Worst. Fanfiction. Ever.
I accept the filmmakers wanted to do something different. I accept that they wanted to put their own twist on things, to bring in a strong female character. But it just seems like a slap to the face. Maleficent completely disregards the message of the original tale. It is the unyielding love of her soul mate that saves Sleeping Beauty, not her BFF. If you want to see that, I suggest you check out that other Disney film. It has better music, anyway.
Movie Rating: C
Have you seen Maleficent? What did you think of the film? Were you disappointed in the plot? In the characters? Do you think the re-imagining of classic fairy tales is played out? Which Disney film was your favorite growing up? Tell me in the comments!