Maleficent

Stunningly beautiful, beautifully evil and a thorn in everyone’s side; that’s Maleficent – but as the re-envisioning of the well-known fairytale shows, there might be more to this villainess than meets the eye…

maleficientThe fairy Maleficent lives in and protects the Moor of the magical creatures ever since she was a child fairy – but the kingdom of the humans is greedy and aims to conquer it. Although Maleficent manages to drive them off, she ends up tricked and wing-less, and casts revenge on the king’s daughter. But things do not go quite as planned…

 

Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday…

…she will fall into a sleeplike death! It’s the Sleeping Beauty version that all of us grew up with, and the film attempts to reinvent it by adding an extra layer that so many (especially Disney) villains lack: a tragic past. Now, this can go both ways and either bring more depth to the character, or ruin him/her completely. I feared it would be the latter until I had fully gotten into it. Yes, of course it is a somewhat predictable film, it stands to reason because that’s what fairytales are – still, the beginning of Maleficent is not what I would have expected and the film created a beautiful magical world that is at peace…

…until the humans mess it all up.

It could have all had its happy ending right away – it did have all the ingredients –, but then of course the film would have been over after five minutes, and it wouldn’t have been good. Instead, humans make, independently, the same mistakes over and over again (and nobody would say that the king did not have it coming) while Maleficent struggles with her own personality, the desire for revenge on the one hand and her initially peaceful nature on the other. But betrayal, disappointment and pain get the better of her and slowly her heart turns to stone.

Or does it?

Angelina Jolie seems the perfect choice for the role of Maleficent: she manages to radiate the cold, cruel power that we would expect from her, while still hinting at all the things she has lost in the process. It is little details that make her a more believable character especially in her interaction with her companion Diaval and Princess Aurora, who is to be raised by the three fairy godmothers until she has outgrown the curse. Although waiting for her revenge for sixteen years, Maleficent’s conviction start to waver when she truly meets the subject of her curse and an unusual relationship begins.

Magnificent Maleficent

Visually, the film is very appealing as well – sometimes a bit on the overdone side, but that’s what magic is for, right? The evil power radiating from this villainess-heroine serves to underline her evil side even more, to show the corruption of her heart and soul, and to serve as a warning more than anything. The beautiful, colourful nature of the magical Moors with walking trees and little light fairies and beings that you cannot quite identify (but that are still somewhat adorable) is in stark contrast to the cold castle of the humans even when Maleficent’s evil grows, while Aurora truly brings light and colour into every place she goes to. Last, but certainly not least,  the Disney fairytale expectations are turned upside down just like they were in Frozen a few months ago, and that alone makes it an exceptional movie. Although admittedly, my expectations were too high at first after all the months of waiting (and my love for ‘core villains’ that have few redeeming qualities rather than a tragic backstory is simply too strong, too), it was an enjoyable experience indeed, one worth repeating (and I do recommend 3D with this). It’s fascinating to see over and over again how a story as well-known as this can be turned on its head and still remain this recognisable yet new – it really does let you see all those fairytales in a different light. The dark, creepy elements do make such a difference. And I believe this hauntingly chilling song by Lana Del Rey will stay with me for quite a while…

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