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.