So let’s talk Maleficent. As previously warned, I’m going to spoil everything for you if you haven’t already seen it.
Before I get into the meat of this rant, I want to say that the costume design for Maleficent deserves prestigious awards, as well as the team that did the character designs and final renderings of Diavil’s many animal transformations: Kudos to always having the raven element to every form.
The main complaint I’ve heard plastered all over my Facebook wall is that she wasn’t pure evil as she was portrayed in the 1954 animated original. Can I say this with the utmost respect?: UHDUH. You really thought Disney was going to make a terrifying movie about the darkest and most sinister of concepts: An unrelentless evil sociopath? Disney would never make that movie. Hell, Tim Burton wouldn’t even make that movie! Whoever did those twisted Saw movies, yeah that guy might do it. The sicko behind The Human Centipede might as well. Is that what you want? Maleficent to just be satan incarnate? I think she deserves a little more than the two dimensions of evil bitch and maniac. In the animated feature, she wasn’t the main character, so the reasons behind her being evil weren’t necessary: We were just expected to understand that she was. And why not? She wasn’t the title character! So here we are, offered a movie to gain insight to her complex past, and we want more. What is that? The lady was drugged, her wings were taken from her by a man she trusted and loved, and we’re not happy that she manages to overcome this? We want her to be tortured forever? REALLY?! How anti-fem is that?!
In the film, we learn that her rage and vengeance was entirely against King Stefan, and baby Aurora was just the vessel to unleash that fury. As young annoying tweens (seriously, I could not wait for that little back-story bit to just be over: It was just so awful. You want me to believe that orphaned Maleficent was not affected by the fact that she was the only human-sized fairy in the land? She’s just bubbly and happy, throwing mud at weird goblin-like frogs? Seriously? Missed character development there, Disney. And seriously, you might have won more people over if you showed how deep her scars ran before some evil man ruined her.) they meet and become friends, then at 16 he offers her a kiss of True Love which obviously doesn’t pan out. Stefan badly wants to become King, and the easiest way to do so is to slay Maleficent, the most powerful being in the realm. Here we go, this is what I want: A man threatened by a powerful woman. BAM. YES. Because that is something that women can relate to! The whole kingdom is in a frenzy because there is a woman, a strong force, they cannot control. This is where you got my interest.
Stefan, being the human embodiment of greed and grossness, goes to “warn her”, which really means to woo her until she feels safe, then he drugs her and rips her wings from her lifeless, drugged body. That is pretty heavy, and for me, it kinda made my stomach twitch. When she awakes, she is in the worst sort of shame/pain/helplessness emotional spiral, shown through tears and heart-aching screams. We’ve just seen Maleficent robbed of her innocence, as represented by her wings. A man came in, took what he wanted, and left her there to deal with the aftermath, alone and broken. Whoa, Disney. Thanks for going there, because this shit happens. The first instinct is of course, vengeance. She will never get back what was taken from her, so she has to take the same measure from him to feel like justice was served. Let’s curse his daughter! Because not only did he take her wings, he then married another woman and got exactly what he always wanted: A happy ending in his stupid effing castle. Hells to the nah – He’s gonna pay.
So obviously the curse happens, and the dumb fairies (loved them in the original, but they are entirely a waste of CG money in this) take Aurora to a cottage to raise, where we learn Maleficent watches her. Long story short, she learns to love again by watching the innocent Aurora grow up into a beautiful and competent young maiden (honestly, she bored me, but I’m not going to judge Maleficent’s taste). She tries to reverse the curse, learning that she took out her anger on the wrong person. But it’s too late. The point is that Aurora is like therapy to Maleficent: She eases her broken heart, she gives her hope, and she is able to see through her own personal darkness by reveling in the light of Aurora’s presence (how’s that for sappy?).
Ultimately (I’m not going to spoil everything), Maleficent redeems herself, and HER CURSE is broken. Technically, Stefan’s curse. She overcomes that trauma he bestowed upon her and decides to move past that dark moment of her life that she’s been brooding over for 16 years. What does this teach little girls? That bad things can happen to you. That there are mean people that can hurt you. BUT despite the pain and the unfairness of it all, you will be loved and you can overcome it. You don’t need to be a victim, you can come out on top. And yet, this awesome gem of hope in a tragically dark time means nothing because Maleficent wasn’t evil enough. Nope. I’m not swayed. I thought it was a great movie and I’m glad someone had the balls to get it made.