Maleficent (2014) tells the tale of Sleeping Beauty from the point of view of the villain- a perspective I am always interested in peering through. After seeing the released posters and trailer, I became even more excited to watch it because I don’t think Stromberg could’ve casted a better actress to play Malificent. Angelina Jolie is the spitting image of what I remember from the original Disney classic; her cheekbones and wicked acting oozes the dark coolness I craved to see on screen.
The movie has its flaws. It was predictable with its colorful fairyland (fairies!) and grey kingdom of betrayal. As other reviews have pointed out, it wasn’t wicked enough. I wanted to see Maleficent do more evil things, but instead I got to see her babysit someone else’s daughter for 16 years. It’s funny in some ways because the movie seems like a warped story of an ex-girlfriend gone mad. But, it was still interesting simply because of the very essence of the plot: the misunderstood villain. I am very much fascinated by the side of the story we don’t get to know.
The reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories.
― C.G. Jung
The most interesting thing I felt watching Maleficent was the relationship that develops between Maleficent and Aurora.
The relationship that starts with jealousy and hatred because of the pain inflicted by one person is something I think anyone can relate to on a personal level. It is very easy to blame someone else and to make them the sole reason to why you did something “bad”. I also especially liked the narrator’s line of how Maleficent “relished in sorrow” after she placed the curse. She threw a huge pity party for herself and that must have felt good because it’s much more comforting than to overcome it.
Of course, Maleficent does overcome her hatred. Although I was annoyed at how she watched and protected Aurora over the years, I also loved it. It was clear that for Maleficent, watching Aurora was like watching a younger self. Aurora’s innocence and brightness is what Maleficent had lost. Maleficent’s piercing gaze through the cracks of thorns and shadows was frightening, yet at the same time sad. I found that the longer I stared into her eyes, the more I was able to see a certain softness.
I think this is what makes Maleficent a beautiful and loved villain. She feels her pain. She allows it to devour her and then she is able to separate that pain from Aurora. Frankly, Aurora is not that special other than the fact that she is completely non-judgmental. She probably resembles any other pure, young 15-year-old who is brought up by fairies in a quaint cottage in the forest. For me, it is Maleficent who picks herself up from the bottom of the hole and bravely opens up to another person again.
As much as I despised how true love’s kiss comes from Maleficent instead of the prince (to be fair, I would have equally despised it if it was the prince’s kiss that woke her up), it also moved me because that is the only love I have come to known. Disney is doing a good job of reinventing their princess conventions, just like how Frozen incorporated new themes of sister love.
I think it is important to realize that everyone has their own story. Just because someone doesn’t believe in love doesn’t mean they never had before. Just because someone is not “good” to you doesn’t mean they are not “good” to anyone. And at the same time, just because someone has a sob story doesn’t mean it’s an excuse or a reason to not overcome it.
I had wings once, and they were strong. They could carry me above the clouds and into the headwinds, and they never faltered. Not even once.