Ask any of my friends who my favorite Disney character is and they will immediately reply “MALEFICENT!” So, I thought I’d take a moment and offer my take on the new Disney film, starting Angelina Jolie. If you are expecting me to dig in to the nitty gritty, or to analyze it psychologically, I’m not – I simply loved it too much to nit-pick. I, like many of my magically inclined, comic book geek, and other assorted Disneyphile friends, have long anticipated the release of this film. Previews started showing over two years ago and we have been waiting with bated breath. Finally the day had come and I was treated to the film by a long time Craft friend of mine who was visiting New York from Los Angeles. Excited was hardly the word to describe as we sat and the lights dimmed…
I won’t recount the entire film here of course but I will mention some highlights. First off, it was so visually stimulating it was awe inspiring to say the least. Obviously in this digital age, most of the film was CGI and it was extremely well done. The costumes were incredible- Maleficent especially- but upon further inspection of any of the characters, the details were well thought out and beautiful. Maleficent’s various looks were all better than the next. She wore an assortment of various cloaks and head dresses which looked to wrap her long beautiful hair underneath yet still ensconced her fantastic horns. One tidbit of detail I read before the film came out was that there were something like 15 sets of horns used and the costume department had recruited leather and fetish gear makers to craft them, some having to be held on her head with magnets, and others weighing so much that she could only wear them while shooting scenes standing still as they otherwise wouldn’t stay on her head. Another interesting tidbit I read was that she cast her own daughter as the young Aurora because she was the only child who wasn’t afraid to look at her in costume! And her severe cheek bones? Yes, they WERE inspired by Lady Gaga’s recent use of the same for one of her video looks. I also love the haunting rendition of “Once Upon a Dream” by Lana Del Rey, who was hand picked by Jolie to sing the song, her smokey dark voice being perfect for the vibe they wanted to create. And it worked well, especially as the credits rolled, leaving us with that haunting magical feeling to take home with us.
The visuals aside, the film’s story was a bit controversial to critics, claiming that they ruined the original story and took too many liberties. This is of course something Disney does in strides as their retelling of these classics are what we have all come to know and love as our own versions of the fairy tales. I never listen to critics as I always like to form my own opinions of things that I want to see. The story here, told from Maleficent’s point of view was actually very well pieced together and I think it played well in the retelling of the classic tale. Disney probably understood that many fans were going to be comparing it to what they knew from the original 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty” film and I think they filled in the blanks accordingly. We learn of Maleficent’s origins as a Faerie, how she lost her once magnificent wings, and how she came to have a Raven as her familiar. We learn of a love story between Maleficent and King Stephan and understand why she originally had such hatred for Princess Aurora. And we see that in the course of the 16 year curse that she lay upon Aurora, it was actually Maleficent herself who cared for her, the bumbling Faeries that she was left to not having the first clue as to how to care for a baby.
Overall, the film was not only a great story, it was also funny and very heartwarming. There is a twist (that I won’t reveal here incase you still haven’t seen it) that proved to be quite emotional for me. The fact that the ones who truly love us are the only ones that really matter is the take away lesson from this film. As well as the fact that things aren’t always as they seem, and we should probably realize that some people who are thought to be evil have much larger battles of their own that we don’t quite realize or even know about. But as the story goes “In the end, its not the Hero or the Villain that saves the day, it’s BOTH.”
I know I need to see this one again!