Maleficent: How Disney’s Villainess is A Model of Empowerment

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Maleficent: How Disney’s Villainess is A Model of Empowerment | Positively Smitten

By Jessie Stracener

I have a confession to make: As much as I loved Disney movies as a child, I do not care for Sleeping Beauty. I watched The Little Mermaid until the VHS tape was worn out and the first movie I ever saw on the big screen was The Lion King. At 24 years old, I can sing Under the Sea and recite every lyric of The Jungle Book. Naturally I went to see Maleficent, the re-imagining of Walt Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty.

This movie is incredible. I loved it. My husband loved it. There was a lot to love about. Maleficent, as we find out from the beginning of the movie, is a fairy who befriends a human. She is a sweet fairy child, with a glorious pair of wings.  She and her new friend grow older and as they do, they grow apart. The humans eventually try and take over Maleficent’s home and this is where her old friend has to pick a side. This is also where the movie went from good to magnificent.

I always appreciate a movie that tries to tell a story from a new perspective, and this movie easily and beautifully accomplishes that. Maleficent is the guardian of her home. She has a loving and forgiving heart. She even forgives her childhood friend when he comes to warn her that the human king wants to harm her. And then she is drugged, and has her beautiful wings sliced from her body and taken to the king as a trophy. This is actually mentioned in the trailers, but seeing it in this movie is so powerful. This scene is very much like a woman waking up after being date raped. Maleficent has just had a special part of her identity ripped away. It is such a powerful and sad image. Angelina Jolie does an amazing job with this character.

Even after all that betrayal, Maleficent manages to be such a powerful female character. She does the hard thing: when Aurora is born, Maleficent curses her and Aurora is taken deep into a secret place in the forest to be raised by three rather frizzled and flighty fairies.

This may be a Disney movie, but the ending is not what you expect. This is the movie to take your sister, or female friends to. It is really, truly, all about feminine struggle and female empowerment and getting past a betrayal of the worst kind. The hype surrounding the film is not just hype, it was truly magnificent.

About Jessie:

I am a happily married 24-year-old woman living in the heart of the south. By day I work primarily with children or doing some sort of clerical work. I’m an ace with excel spreadsheets and bandaging “boo boos”. I’ve had nearly every job you could think of and I have enjoyed most of them, from working at a museum, library, Microbiology lab, and a Music studio to being a birthday clown, a tutor, and pretty much anything else you can think of. I love to sew, cross stitch, embroider, and work with beads and wire to make awesome trees. I will try crafting anything at least once. I also love to read. I will read nearly anything. I also like to cook when I have the time.


  1. Sleeping Beauty was my favorite Disney movie, it was one of the two things I had in my childhood that my deceased mother gave me. I liked Maleficent though but nothing will measure up to Sleeping Beauty for me.

    • Everyone has their own heroes. I really loved Ariel as a child, and still do to some extent. My favorite Disney character now is a toss up between Belle and Stitch. What I really liked about this movie is that they took a woman who is traditionally villainous and gave her a story.

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