Maleficent made me think a lot about “Disney movies”.
I thought that, at almost 40, one could no longer appreciate a film destined for an audience two or three decades younger than me. I was wrong. T
he film Maleficent, released for the first time on May 28, 2014, has different substrates of meaning that make it appreciated by both the youngest and those a little less young. Today we tell you who Maleficent is, the plot of the film, the sequel and the meaning. If you, like me, had doubts, look at Maleficent, you will change your mind.
Who is Maleficent?
Maleficent is the evil witch from Sleeping Beauty, who casts a curse on the king’s newborn daughter, who should have been pricked with a spindle when she turned sixteenth. I won’t add anything else, the story is known to everyone.
But in this film, which arrived more than 50 years after the 1959 cartoon, the story told is different. In this new take on the classic, we learn about Maleficent’s past.
Although her name is not too appropriate, we see that she is not as bad as we thought. Maleficent was nothing more than an orphaned fairy living in a secluded place, a realm where other fantastic creatures live. The kingdom of men is “on the other side” and greed is taking over their souls.
Maleficent finds a friend here, a little boy named Stefan who lives in a barn. He is also an orphan. The two then become friends. Stefan continues to visit Maleficent and kisses her (presumably a symbol of his true love) when the two are 16.
However, Stefan is ambitious and tries to become king despite his origins. This ambition will drive him away from Maleficent and betray her by snatching her wings. The king will appoint him successor and, eventually, Stefan will achieve his goal.
Maleficent will take refuge in her hatred and her thirst for revenge, transforming himself into the evil character we saw and met in Sleeping Beauty. Like all the “gothic girls” we like, she embraces black and becomes a kind of Elizabeth Bathory with more spells and less blood!
The plot of the flm
As we said, Maleficent is a beautiful young, winged, and pure hearted fairy who leads an idyllic life in a peaceful forest in a realm of happiness and harmony. One day, an invading army threatens the country’s borders and Maleficent, listening only to her courage, stands up as a proud protector of this land.
In this fierce struggle, Stefan, in whom she had faith and whom she had loved very much, will betray her, cutting off her wings, unleashing in her a suffering different from the others. A suffering that will gradually transform her pure heart into a heart of stone. Determined to take revenge, she wages an epic battle with the king’s successor, placing a terrible curse on her newborn daughter, Aurora.
As we know, Aurora is the Sleeping Beauty, who pricks herself with a spindle at the age of 16, falling into a deep sleep from which she can wake up only with the kiss of true love. But as the little girl grows up, Maleficent realizes that the little princess holds the key to the kingdom’s peace, and perhaps the key to her redemption as well. In fact, when she falls asleep, the kiss of awakening is not given by “prince charming”, but by her Maleficent herself, who breaks every curse by proving that she is capable of loving again.
Themes in Maleficent
The film Maleficent deals with “patching up” and filling the gaps left by the past. Maleficent is no longer a character we hate; we understand this and find out why she behaves that way.
It is true that the idea of revenge and hatred is still extremely tied to the character. However, Maleficent will get to know little Aurora, will end up loving her and will try to correct her mistakes.
In addition to the evolution of Maleficent, we notice some changes that explain the gaps in the original version. Maleficent doesn’t believe in love. Stefan betrayed her when he was 16. That is why she will punish his daughter with the same sentence. Stefan himself knows that true love doesn’t exist because he has never experienced it. He only knows greed.
Maleficent gets carried away by the hatred and resentment she feels towards Stefan. However, when she meets Aurora, she realizes that she is not guilty of Stefan’s actions and that she does not deserve this punishment. She then tries to reverse the spell but is unsuccessful. The only solution is that Aurora receives a kiss of love.
Maleficent’s love skepticism will lead her to believe her salvation is impossible. Despite everything, Diaval and the fairies think that Prince Philip’s kiss will wake up the young woman. However, Philip is not yet in love, although he feels attracted to Aurora. He barely knows her and his kiss doesn’t wake her up.
Repentance is the key
Yes, love is much more complex than what Disney has shown us in its classics. Thus, a repentant Maleficent, wounded by everything she has made, gives Aurora a kiss, a kiss totally maternal but of true love. And Aurora comes out of her sleep of death, breaking the myth of all the Disney classics.
The film reflects an idea that materializes every second in the world. Neither cruelty nor kindness is born without reason. Plus, they’re never that extreme. We all have a number of shades within us. And we can all unleash our hate and love in certain situations.
Finally, a very important and modern thing, women no longer need princes that save them: love is built little by little and, for it to be solid, simple initial attraction is no longer enough.
Success and sequel
Maleficent, upon its release, it not only received positive reviews, but also numerous awards. The film was nominated for the 2015 Academy Awards for the best costumes and various Critics’ Awards, Satellite Awards and so on. It honestly amazes me it didn’t win a Hollywood makeup statuette for that deliciously evil elegance. Here is the video : Angelina Jolie: (vanityfair.it)
The year following the release of the film, the sequel, Maleficent 2, was already announced, but it was released four years later, exactly on October 18, 2019. The title of the film is Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
Five peaceful years have passed since the disappearance of the monarch, King Stefan, just as it has been 5 years from the first film to its sequel. In Mistress of Evil an unexpected but joyful event is about to unite the mortal realm of Ulstead and the fairy realm of Maleficent. It’s about Aurora’s engagement.
Once again, hateful betrayal stands in the way of true young love, while mischievous envy, boundless ambition and ignoble thoughts creep into the hearts of men. Now, two neighboring worlds find themselves divided by fear and prejudice and, unfortunately, the imminent union opens the way for a total confrontation. Suddenly, Maleficent and the princess find themselves in the middle. But, as this is a Disney movie, things will work out eventually.
Visually stunning, Maleficent owes much of its success to the extraordinary Angelina Jolie, but that’s not all. The rest of the cast is equally flawless. Although the film, which somewhat follows in the footsteps of the Wizard of Oz, is designed for a very large audience, viewers (including me!) are able to appreciate Disney’s new proposal with an iconic character.
We cannot fail to recognize that it is difficult to hit the mark when revisiting a classic. Disney found that classics like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella continue to appeal to the little ones. However, this old formula no longer works. Today like never before, Disney (and all of us) needs strong and brave princesses who don’t care about finding a prince.
These characters must represent the new female icons of the 21st century. There is no more insipid princess than Aurora (in the 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty). She sleeps for most of the film, she has almost no dialogue and she falls in love with the prince without even knowing him. Let’s not forget that this is 1959.
There is nothing strange that the only purpose in the life of these princesses is to find a good husband and live happily ever after. We see that it is not very current, now it is not so easy to find a prince! Can you imagine Aurora, with her eyes closed asleep, putting a profile picture on Tinder?
Fortunately, thanks to a change of mentality that is still going on now, names like Mulan (1998) and Pocahontas have sprung up, and we can consider these women as pioneers of change. Elsa (Frozen, 2013) and Vaiana (2016), are the emblems of the future. Thank you Maleficent and thank you ladies, you really are the Wonder Women we needed!