‘Maleficent’ ~ The Skinny

Angelina Jolie delivers as Maleficent

Angelina Jolie delivers as Maleficent

… and here we were thinking it was all because she was not invited to the baby shower! Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Robert Stromberg’s feature film debut of the same name. Once upon a time, there lived a young and confident fairy named Maleficent (Isobelle Molloy and Ella Purnell), who, though an orphan, loved life and all that it had to offer her. She had wings that gave her freedom, joy, excitement, and pure unadulterated happiness. They were so large that they dragged behind her when she walked. They were strong and they never faltered–not once–and [she] trusted them. She lived in The Moor, a land of innocence where an animated forest, fairies, pixies, water sprites, and other magical creatures roamed free in a verdant lush land undisturbed by the threat of violence–that is until a human stumbled into their land. Stefan (Sharlto Copley), a farm boy, had all the panache of dried leaf. He and Maleficent, nevertheless, formed a friendship in the Moor that is sealed with “true love’s kiss”. Betrayal then followed, fueled by ambition, and a treacherous act Stefan committed that cut deep into the heart. Had I no hope of the recovery, I may have walked out of the theater!

"They were strong [...] and I trusted them!"

“They were strong […] and I trusted them!”

Some parts of the narrative, however, made me wonder. For instance, is Maleficent the only fairy of her kind? Why is Maleficent so isolated in a forest of thorns with creatures for whom she has no direct association? Who are her friends? Why isn’t there someone–an elder, perhaps–with whom she can consult and who can stand with her while she bears her grief? Perhaps, that’s just it: Maleficent lays bare the threat of isolation and how it breeds abuse, even the will to murder, even the act of rape. In this film, Maleficent’s isolation marks her as an open/easy target for those who wish to devour the very essence of who she is. Isolation sets her up for the kill, and Stefan does with abandon! On another note, there were times in the film I kept asking: you’ve got magic! Why won’t you use it get you out of this situation? Perhaps, that’s just it, again: Sometimes, a woman just has to stay the human course and rest on the hope that she will get out alive to use her magic! After all, her body is the vessel she need to deploy her magic. Hope does come to the rescue in the things which have been stolen from Maleficent. They beat for her. They find her. They lift her up out of the muck and mire! They save her! Therein lies the grace of Maleficent. Mercy!

Anne Sheppard’s costume design is grandiose, but Jolie inhabits it with the confidence of a stalking cheetah. The actress easily transitions from a once trusting, vulnerable friend into a bruised and almost-broken double-crossed villain. I tell you, it is a heart-wrenching scene, and the dialogue written by Linda Wolverton (one line in particular) under girds Maleficent’s most traumatic experience.

Maleficent might disappoint in some scenes but go and watch the film. The twist to Sleeping Beauty is inspiring. Let me just say this: the boys ain’t waking us up any more (think Frozen)! You will not be disappointed!

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1 Comment

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