Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Maleficent Is an Interesting Version of the Classic Fairy Tale

I have never seen Sleeping Beauty.  There it is I said it.  It was a Disney movie I never had any desire to watch and so when I brought home Maleficent staring Angelina Jolie I had little knowledge about the story besides the fact that Maleficent was the evil witch who put a spell on sleeping beauty.  As a result, I got to view the film with fresh eyes and found it to be an interesting take on the old fairy tale.  The focus is entirely on Maleficent as we learn about her backstory and magical home.  While princess Aurora is a character, she feels more like a side note.  A chapter in the story of Maleficent whose relationship with Aurora’s father King Stefan goes back farther than expected.  Perhaps the best aspect of the film is seeing a classic Disney villain portrayed as the heroine, villain and victim.  We sympathize with her and seeing the events unfold from her perspective allows the viewer to form different opinions about the original story.  All major characters are present including Prince Philip and the three fairies (though their names have been changed for some reason).  While the film has its dark moments, it’s overall an uplifting tale with a standard Disney happy ending which makes it enjoyable for both children and parents.  I was skeptical at first about Jolie who is so recognizable I thought it would take away from her performance.  While it was initially difficult to get past the fact that you’re staring at Angelina Jolie in a fancy costume, she eventually gets it right and you find yourself focused on the character and not her (something I find she has had difficulty with in past films).  I won’t give away too many aspects of the film beyond the core plot elements everyone is aware of because the areas where the story deviates are what make it such a unique adaptation.  I would love to see Disney continue in this vein and see other classic tales like Snow White told from the perspective of the villain.  It not only gives a different point of view but breathes new life into a timeless classic.

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