One of the films I’ve been most curious about this season is Maleficent. Having been a fan of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty for years (and years and years) but not being a fan of Angelina Jolie, it was with mixed emotions that I bought a ticket to a Saturday matinee.
It was the best movie choice yet in a summer that boasts little to interest me.
Maleficent was made for Angelina Jolie. And it was made for everyone who was ever enchanted by the Sleepy Beauty story.
Maleficent is a fractured Fairy Tale. The makers deconstructed the original tale and then constructed a movie in a new and different light. And it worked. Magnificently.
Maleficent is a prequel of sorts, beginning in Maleficent’s own childhood, brilliantly staged in a mix of animation and live action. We meet Maleficent as a young girl, a fairie with stunning wings long enough to trail behind her. We watch as she soars among the clouds and through the woodlands — The Moors — that she calls home. She falls in love with a human who betrays her, cutting off her magnificent wings.
Scorned by love, Maleficent seeks revenge by casting an irreversible evil spell on the newly crowned King’s first born child, Aurora. In fear that the spell will come true, the new King sends his newborn child away to a secret country cottage hidden deep within the woods to be watched over by a trio of three hummingbird sized fairies, Flittle, Knotgrass and Thistletwit.
As the beautiful Aurora grows in age, Maleficent grows to feel a strong affection for the adorable little girl and decides to reverse the curse. However the curse proves irreversible. Destined to prick her finger on a spindle wheel needle and fall into a deep sleep forevermore Aurora prematurely returns to her father and his castle. Pricking her finger on the spindle wheel, Aurora falls into her deep sleep awaiting her “prince charming” whom only with a kiss of true love can awaken her. In the telling of the tale, the audience is gifted with humorous fairies, evil knights, the hatred of a kind, the winsomeness of a child, the fierceness of dragons and a setting that is just astounding in creativity and beauty.
Despite its fairy tale underpinnings, there are dark undertones which make this film unsuitable for very young children. Its the young adult/adult version of a childhood story. Love. Hate. Sorcery. Dragons. Beauty. Terror. Warfare.
Maleficent, though, offers up an unexpected message about the meaning of true love in a twist that is guaranteed to delight and satisfy. Angelie Jolie was made to play this role and she earned a new fan in the process.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 was my first delight in the 2014 summer season of movies. Maleficent is the second.