Review by Lucia Santiago Dantes
It’s no surprise it’s a trend right now to revamp stories in Hollywood, we see it not only at the movies but also on TV. For some it’s a lack of creativity, for others it’s just a marketing strategy. Reality, they came here to stay. Just remember how many remakes/rebooths have we seen in the past months? Carrie, Hannibal (TV series) Bates Motel (TV series), Rosemary’s Baby, Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit.. just to mention some of them.
As for Maleficent, the first minutes of the movie didn’t impress me; the DGI didn’t impress me either as great quality on them became a standard in such fantasy movies with big budgets but, the story and character development… well, now we’re talking. I think one of the strongest qualities about Hollywood movies is precisely how they reach out audiences through the story. Maleficent is a great example of this. But, before beginning to talk about the film let me just remind you that Maleficent being the retelling and revamping of the folks tale “Sleeping Beauty” (yes before Perrault’s publishing of the story it was a folks tale, and the Grimm brothers were honest enough to recognize it) present such characteristics of a folks tale, told in the modern days. What I mean about this fact is before you complain about it, just take in mind a fact: a folks tale in the old days was a story told mouth by mouth by the villagers and/or members of a community and such story survived generations, and of course every person, every family, every community will have its own version. But at the end of the day, the elements, the backbone of the story survives. That’s exactly what happened to this “version” of the classic folk tale the one difference is that it is told in modern times, and we are now, as a society, mature enough to accept that unless you are a serial killer or psychopath there’s not such thing as a totally evil person. And such was the titanic task writer Linda Woolverton was taken into, when she was penning the script for Maleficent.
Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is completely told in a character’s point of view. As the movie starts we see a little fairy that looks more like a pan and less than a fairy, but she is the strongest of all the fairies in the woods. She lives in a kingdom of magical beings surrounded by nearby kingdoms of regular human beings. They both live apart from each other but one day Maleficent meets a boy, they become friends and that friendship grows into something more when they grow up. Years pass and that boy named Stefan (Sharito Copley, District 9) is now a very ambitious man. It’s been years since he distanced himself from Maleficent and works for King Herny (Kenneth Cranham) now, who tried to conquer Maleficent’s kingdom just to be defeated by her army of ents look alike. Stefan tries to take advantage of the King’s offer about inheriting his kingdom and the hand in marriage to who ever kills Maleficent. So one night he goes to kill her just to find out he can’t do it so instead he cuts her wings to have proof he defeated her. And so the story of sleeping beauty as we know it begins.
As we find out in Woolverton’s version, we see that Maleficent wasn’t upset because she wasn’t invited to the story but we understand that’s what everybody else thinks was her motivation to curse the little girl. Only us as audience know the real story behind it, which I find it very rewarding. Also, the twist about the true love kiss makes way more sense now. How can you have true love to someone you just met? That’s impossible! The story makes more sense now.
Some people saw the betrayal scene of Stefan and Maleficent as a metaphor for rape. In an interview, Angelina Jolie confesses that was indeed the intention. Here’s the link to that interview.
All those actions make the much more story plausible as Woolvertoon said in that interview “”How on earth was I going to justify that this woman would curse a baby?”
I have to agree with that. You need to see the story as a folks tale adapted to the modern moral values so you can appreciate it as the great story it is.
Trivia: Aurora as a child was played by Angelina Jolie’s daughter Vivienne Jolie-Pitt and Elle Fanning on her grown up version. Elle is the younger sister of Dakota Fanning, better known for playing Tom Cruise daughter in the remake of “War of the Worlds” and a great sic-fi mini series called Taken (2002)
Also in the film Sam Riley as Diaval, the crow who becomes her confident. And playing the 3 fairies who take care of of Aurora: Imelda Staunton as Knotgrass, Juno Temple as Thistlewit, Lesley Manville as Flittle