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MALEFICENT (review)

maleficentMALEFICENT
Written by Linda Woolverton
Directed by Robert Stromberg
Starring Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley and Elle Fanning
 

Aurora: Let us tell an old story anew and we shall see how well you know it.

In keeping with the trends, MALEFICENT, Angelina Jolie’s passion project pulled from the pages of the Disney animated classic, SLEEPING BEAUTY, debunks what we think we know about a past fairy tale and gives back story and humanity to a character that, up until now, was only seen as one dimensional. In the 1959 film, Maleficent infamously cursed Aurora, an innocent babe born to a king, to death on her 16th birthday because she wasn’t invited to share in the joy of her birth. By all means, this is certainly an irrational action, and Jolie, special effects wizard turned director, Robert Stromberg and ALICE IN WONDERLAND writer, Linda Woolverton, want to dig deeper into what motivated that decision by allowing us to get to know Maleficent better. Now that we’re better acquainted though, I feel I had more respect for her when I just thought she was crazy.

風起海報設計

The original curse was downgraded by another fairy in the original film from death to an eternal sleep that could be broken with true love’s kiss. In MALEFICENT, the curse starts out as eternal sleep and it is Maleficent herself who includes the true love’s kiss loop hole. It seems as though she is providing a way out for the child, but she actually doesn’t believe in true love, so as far as she is concerned, this girl is going to sleep forever. The reason she doesn’t believe in true love is because she and Aurora’s father, the new king (Sharlto Copley, DISTRICT 9), were childhood sweethearts, until he more or less date rapes her one day by drugging her and stealing her wings in an attempt to impress the king at the time. Before too long, he is crowned for the horrible thing he did and she shows up at his daughter’s christening like a crazed ex-girlfriend. I get, and strongly support, the idea of showing little girls everywhere that they don’t need Prince Charming to save the day (as is greatly exemplified is Disney’s most recent princess hit, FROZEN) but I’m not sure a jilted lover who gives into her jealous rage and makes it her obsessive mission to bring down the man who broke her heart while making everyone else miserable as well, is an appropriate alternative.

Maleficent-(2014)-13

MALEFICENT redirects its focus after the curse is placed to her experience watching over Aurora (played by Elle Fanning when she gets older) over the years. Naturally, her assumed role of pseudo-motherhood softens her. This makes for some of the film’s more endearing moments, as well as allows for Jolie to make many a funny face in the process, but it also reinforces another cliche women have been facing for some time now – that motherhood makes you complete. In the end, Maleficent learns her lesson but the one it teaches little girls is no better than the one it tried to undo to begin with.

3 sheep

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Maleficent?

 

 

 

8 Comments

  1. Maleficent was a pleasure to watch. Acting was excellent. I liked the young Aurora; it was clear that this was Angelina’s own daughter. The love between mother and daughter was unmistakable.
    This film provides an explanation for why Maleficent became so bitter and such an evil villain. It also shows a softer, kinder, soul that was still capable of loving others.
    Never did I think that I would cheer for Maleficent, but that’s what I did..
    Excellent movie!!

    • I totally agree that the actual mother daughter moments were some of the film’s best. I do kinda feel like it might be a wee bit traumatic for her baby to be told “I hate you” from her mother while she wears giant horns on her head. Maybe it was just trick editing though and the baby wasn’t even around when she said it. 🙂 Thanks as always for reading, Fran.

  2. This is not a film review. Where is there any critique of the film here?

    • A film review can address any number of things. In this, I chose to focus on the elements of the plot I did not care for as well as the overall themes and lessons the film provides for women, young and old. Thanks for reading.

  3. Well let’s just say I don’t agree with your review and actually feel you did the film and people who may otherwise want to see it a disservice- but that’s just me.. Surprisingly my whole family was blown away by the film. ( I have a somewhat macho husband who is not a big Angelina fan ( up until now) and a 6 yr old & 4 yr old who have only been To a movie theatre once before , and had a hard time sitting for so long- but for Malificent we were all transfixed! It’s a role only Angelina Jolie could play so well! She was simply magnificent! Fact is her character and the story line was very believable because you could totally understand how her love turned into hatred from the self serving betrayal of someoneone she loved so purely and innocently. I loved the fact that this ” Disney” fare was not the usual superfucial crap but had some darkness and depth based on real human pain. Sorry to say but the whole ” a woman scorned thing.. Works .. Because most of us can relate- it’s strikes a real chord .. And yes.. I didn’t worry that my girls were watching Something that was trying to preach to fhem something unhealthy .. Including the possibility that motherhood or compassion for children is ” life changing ” or transformative” .. Fact is – it is for many of is!! What’s wrong with that??
    It seems like you were just determined to find something wrong with the film.. Sorry just an opinion of course. I guess I just enjoyed the movie so much more then I thought I would and my family felt the same way! I still enjoy reading your reviews though..

    • First of all, thank you so much for your insightful commentary. This film just rubbed me the wrong way from start to finish. There were things I liked about it and most of those revolved around Angelina Jolie naturally. I don’t know that I necessarily looked for things not to like about it, mind you. I think I just didn’t connect with it like you and your family did. I know a lot of people who enjoyed the film and I think it should be commended for being an unexpected point of contention for contemporary feminist filmmaking. Who knew a Disney family feature could provoke such debate? Anyway, my experience of it was clearly different than yours but I loved reading your spirited and passionate plea for the film. I also really appreciate that you are open enough to see that we can disagree but that we can still exchange ideas. Thanks for reading!

  4. I was surprised you commented so quickly to my ” spirited” response of your review. Perhaps I was a bit harsh . I realize you make some good points, after all -we can’t expect we are all going to have the same type of connection to certain aspects of story lines and motivations of characters in films. In any case. I will continue to enjoy your website , and appreciate the different perspective you offer.

    • I just happened to be online when you posted. Come to think of it, I happen to be online a lot. Again, I really appreciated your comment. It got me thinking!

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