Maleficent: The ultimate Disney female villain
It’s no secret that villains fascinate us in storytelling, and magnetic Disney villains, especially the villainesses, strike a particular curious chord of fascination in us, making us love to hate them. I think I know why we like them so much: they are interesting. They are nuanced with deep character flaws that lend them humanity. They are charismatic and charming, spellbinding, and we just can’t look away because we want to know more about them.
A deeper question might be: how did they get that way? This is a question that the classic Disney films don’t have much time to answer. That would take a movie all its own. Angelina Jolie’s new live action project, Maleficent (pronounced MUH-LEF-UH-SUNT) is seeking to tackle that tough question about the title character, who first appeared in the animated Disney classic Sleeping Beauty in 1959. With her black cloak and ram’s horn headdress, Maleficent is intimidating to say the least.
Maleficent Official Trailer
Check out this Maleficent first look trailer to get a visual on just how scary she is:
It’s clear in the trailer that Maleficent is omnipresent in Aurora’s life, yet Aurora doesn’t see her as evil: she is fascinated with her, just like we are as an audience. Aurora wants her to reveal herself so that she can get to know her better. She doesn’t want Maleficent to be just a flickering shadow in her life, but a real and concrete presence, as is evident in the following exchange:
Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) to Maleficent (hiding in the shadows): “I know who you are: you’ve been watching over me my whole life. I know you’re there. Your shadow has been following me ever since I was small. Don’t be afraid.”
Maleficent: “I am not afraid.”
Aurora: “Then come out.”
Maleficent: “Then you’ll be afraid.”
That’s an understatement!
Maleficent follows the circumstances that lead the once pure heart of Maleficent to turn to stone. It’s complicated to say the least, and things get ugly, as we would expect them to. Battles, betrayal: this is going to be good.
Villains and villaineses like Maleficent provide a bit of a catharsis for us as viewers: they enable us the pleasurable experience of exploring the dark side of our souls in the safety of a movie theater, protected by the distance of a fairy tale in a mythic time and place.
Let me put that bold statement into context: I am not saying that the audience is bad for enjoying watching Maleficent. Like Aurora, we are so curious and fascinated in her story, but most of all it’s fun to realize that she is such a worthy opponent for the forces of good. And we know inside that she, or her dark side, will be defeated in the end. A movie like this does make us reflect on our own darker natures, but ultimately the fairy tale allows us to reject them, and good triumphs in the end. The Happy Ending reigns supreme.
It is an experience that can be scary, but Maleficent is a Disney film, so it won’t be TOO scary. Maleficent releases in theaters everywhere on May 30, 2014!
Maleficent official synopsis
Academy Award®-winning actress Angelina Jolie joined Sean Bailey on stage after the audience had an exclusive first look at Disney’s “Maleficent.” Starring as the title character in the highly anticipated live action film, Jolie chatted with Bailey about the film before exiting to wild applause.
“Maleficent” is the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty.” A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal—an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom—and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.
The film also stars Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Miranda Richardson, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville and is produced by Joe Roth and directed by Robert Stromberg. Linda Woolverton, the screenwriter of “Alice in Wonderland,” “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast,” wrote the screenplay.
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