Movie Wednesday: Maleficent
by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum
Once upon a time, there were two kingdoms that did not get along. The kingdom of men resented their neighbors, the kingdom of the fairies, for their magic and their seclusion. But one day a young fairy named Maleficent meets a human boy named Stefan and the two grow fond of each other. For a time it seems that the enmity between their two people might be bridged through the youngsters, but alas as Maleficent and Stefan grow older they also grow apart. Stefan’s greed leads him to the service of the human king and Maleficent becomes the guardian of the fairy kingdom, protecting it from the encroaching armies of men. After a battle between humans and fairies, the king returns mortally wounded and promises to name anyone who kills Maleficent as his successor. Warped by greed Stefan makes a terrible choice and Maleficent’s vengeance will haunt him and his family.
[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]
Disney’s Maleficent is not simply a live action remake of the studio’s classic animated film of Sleeping Beauty. Revisionism in fiction is the practice of taking a story and retelling it with noticeable “variations” which can purposefully alter events and themes from the original work. Maleficent is revisionist in that sense. It takes the well-worn tale of the beautiful princess in an enchanted sleep and puts a new twist on it. Instead of the beautiful Aurora, we follow Maleficent, the fairy who curses the princess, through the tale as we learn what made her so “evil” and then begin to question if she’s really evil at all by the end.
The film opens with a narrator speaking to the audience and asking us to reexamine just how well we know this story. And that’s exactly what Maleficent does as a film; it re-imagines a familiar story through a different lens that challenges the viewer to reconsider how they feel about it. By the end of movie, you might just find yourself feeling a little different towards the titular character than you did before watching it, and that is story-telling at its best.
- Have you seen the animated Sleeping Beauty film? If so, do you prefer it to Maleficent? Why or why not?
- In this version, the three fairies who care for Aurora are shown as well-meaning but perhaps not the best of guardians for Aurora. Why do you think King Stefan chose to entrust his daughter to them?
- In Sleeping Beauty, Aurora is awakened by the prince giving her “true love’s kiss.” But as the Maleficent film points out, the two had only just met and in this version Philip’s kiss is proven ineffective at breaking the spell. It’s Maleficent, who has come to know Aurora over a long period of time, who breaks her own spell by kissing Aurora on the forehead. What do you think the film may be trying to say through this change?
- Diaval is Maleficent’s sometimes-animal-sometimes-human companion. He makes a lot of quips and one-liners. Do you have a favorite line of his? Which is it?