So, since my wife wanted to see it, we went and saw the movie “Maleficent.” Just in case you didn’t know, it is a film based on the villain in Disney’s animated film “Sleeping Beauty.” Initially I thought the film would be a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” from the villain’s point of view. That could be interesting. Get an view of how the villain thinks what they are doing is right. However I learned, before we saw it, that the film would delve into her history. I assumed this meant that they would explain why she became the evil villain of “Sleeping Beauty.” Of course to explain it they would have to make it up out of whole cloth since the character only exists in Disney’s “universe” and is not based on a character in the original fairy tale (which is very short on characters). Not as interesting to me.
Now, before I go any further, be warned, there are spoilers ahead. And if you’re thinking, that’s ok, I know how the movie ends, no, no you don’t. So if you don’t want to know what happens don’t read anymore.
Then I saw a friend post a link to an article that talked about the scene in the movie where Maleficent loses her wings being analogous to a rape scene. Not having seen the film at that point I thought that was a weird way to go for Disney but ok we’ll see how they do that.
Now before I tell you what I thought was wrong with the film, I’ll tell you want was right about it. Angelina Jolie was perfectly cast for the role. Really she has the perfect look for it. No disrespect meant to her personally but she is able to pull of being both cold and beautiful at the same time. So good job casting director (whoever you are). Secondly the film was fantastic from a production value stand point. Everything looked great. That’s not hugely unusual now but still it should be pointed out. If you set out to create the world of “Sleeping Beauty” you could not do better than what they did.
Now to what I did not like about the film.
This film was, quite possibly, the best made Lifetime Network movie ever made. If you don’t know what I mean by that, here it is in a nutshell. Women are always good. If they do something bad it’s because they were abused in some way (usually betrayed) by a man. If a woman is, somehow, not doing what they should (but still are doing “evil” things) it is because they are enabling evil men. Men are most commonly fearful and abusive, particularly toward women and at best they are pretty and of no real use or value at all.
Maleficent herself isn’t evil, she is the protector of the Moors. Then the power hungry King who is fearful of the power in the Moors makes plans to take over the Moors. When Maleficent tells him to go no further he tells his soldiers to bring him her head. Then with the mighty power of the Moors she defeats and mortally wounds the King.
Well then king, being vindictive declares the man who avenges him will be king upon his own death (I guess he had no male heirs). Well, when she was young Maleficent had a human friend named Stephen. He covets power and the throne (you know, because he’s a guy) and so he uses his previous relationship to trick Maleficent. He drugs her and then, when about to kill her, decides he cannot and just cuts off her wings instead. This is the “rape scene” I had spoken of earlier. Now, I am a man (and evil of course) but had I not been told it was a rape scene I would not have known. I don’t know for sure if that’s what the director was going for with the scene. I almost think that perhaps that’s what people (I suspect they are fans of the Lifetime Network) are reading onto the scene, but I could be wrong.
Stephan’s bid for power works and he is now the heir. Because of him Maleficent is now left to her anger because of his betrayal. So when Stephan’s daughter is born (Aurora) Maleficent shows up and places the curse on her. Then throughout the movie Maleficent watches over Aurora to make sure she makes it to 16 so the curse can happen. However she begins to care for Aurora and even tries to take back the curse. Aurora then meets Prince Philip. You know, the dashing hero from the cartoon. He is kind of stupid and just a pretty face. When Aurora is under the curse he is unable to break it. He is not her true love. He is summarily thrown from the room, only to be seen again just before the credits. As it turns out Maleficent is the one to give Aurora “true love’s kiss” which I will assume is supposed to be a mother/daughter kind of love and not a lesbian reference though truly I can’t rule it out.
In the end, evil stupid hateful man is killed (by his own hateful stupidity) and Aurora and Maleficent live happily ever after (possibly with Prince Phillip).
The only male character that isn’t overtly evil or stupid isn’t even a man at all. He’s a raven that Maleficent sometimes turns into a man. And even he isn’t bothered by her killing dozens of men who were not attacking anyone. He was upset that she turned him into a dog.
At the end it declares that Maleficent was the hero all along. And the narrator knows because she is Sleeping Beauty.
So if you like the Lifetime Network you’ll probably love this movie. I’m tired of being told I’m either evil or dumb by television and movies (just look at how men are portrayed in commercials) so I didn’t like it as much.