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If you've ever seen Sleeping Beauty then you know who Maleficent is. She was the big bad enemy, the villain, the evil sorceress that put a curse on a young baby because she could. The king and his Queen, the whole kingdom, was this bright hand happy place, everything was perfect. In that moment she, Aurora was cursed they did the only thing loving parents could do. They sent their daughter away in the hopes of protecting her. They burned and locked up all spinning wheels. Aurora grew up to be a most beautiful and slender woman with an enchanting voice that drew the attention of a young Prince that would soon wake her from her sleep and ultimately defeat the evil Maleficent cast upon the world like a dark shadow.
Maybe when you're young this is an ok story. But when you grow up and realize the world is more complex than that... suddenly your childhood fairytale is hollow and unrealistic and you are left asking "why was Maleficent so evil?" and maybe a few other questions.
In the movie, Maleficent, we are introduced to would be evil, mistress when she is a bright and happy child fairy. She's honest and has a good set of morals and would never hurt anyone even if they tried to steal something from the moors. She doesn't believe in name-calling and believe that every creature is beautiful and handsome and distinguished in their own way and that is to be appreciated.
For a moment, you feel like you're watching a piece from Romeo and Juliet where two people from different kingdoms seem to fall in love. It's an unlikely friendship and an unlikely love between a farmer named Stefan and the powerful protector of the Fairies, Maleficent. From the start we knew Stefan had ambitions to live in the human castle. Like any human that was driven by greed and power he wanted to be king.
After a failed attack on the moors the King is gravely injured and Stefan is presented with an opportunity. Kill Maleficent and become king and marry a beautiful woman as his queen. Given his former friendship, it was easy to be with Maleficent again as she trusted easily. The temptations were almost strong enough that he would have killed her but instead he crippled her and still managed to take the place of the King.
Betrayed on many fronts, Maleficent grew hateful and angry and her powers as a fairy became something darker. Someone she cared for was cruel enough to hurt her and cripple her and take her wings. Someone she cared for did that to further his own path and marry another. Later he had a baby girl and invited everyone in the known human kingdom.
Maleficent cursed the girl. But it wasn't because she hated the smiling child. She was in pain and hated the man, Stefan.
Stefan soon deteriorated into madness. We can see that he is consumed with guilt and fear over his actions. That he betrayed someone and hurt them when they were most vulnerable. The woman Maleficent becomes of his own making. His enemy is one that he created through his own actions. He is consumed by fear and sends his daughter away and burns and locks up all the spinning wheels, like in the original movie. He goes a step further and commissions men to work the mines and gather and work as much iron as possible. He's preparing for her return, on the day that Aurora is meant to prick her finger and fall into a death-like slumber.
On the other half. We actually see that, while Maleficent tries to maintain her anger and evil persona, she's actually quite fond of the little child.
My favourite moment is when she peeks through the window at the baby, who smiles up at her. Maleficent tries to growl at her and look fierce. For a moment she's almost successful as the child makes a face that says "um... what?" before smiling again. Then Maleficent says "I hate you." and I can't help but laugh out loud.
Throughout Aurora's childhood, Maleficent does not stray far and actually aids in raising the child. We see that the three fairies blunder from one day to the next, consumed by their own petty squabbles. We see that Maleficent really does not want to hurt the child.
As the movie continues we see the Stefan falls further into insanity while Aurora helps to bring Maleficent back to the person she once was as a child and young woman. Stefan sits in a dark corner of his castle and speaks to the wings he cut from Maleficent, that he now houses in a glass casement. He hides away while his wife, queen and mother of his child dies alone in her bed.
We eventually find out that Maleficent tries to reverse the curse, to remove it. Her own words on the moment she cast it damn her and prevent her from reversing it. It's inevitable that Aurora will prick her finger. The only hope is that Aurora believes this Prince Philip is her one true love.
Of course, we all know that he really isn't. There's no way. True love doesn't just happen. You can't meet someone once and a switch will flip. Even Prince Philip admits he hardly knows her, but she is beautiful. Beauty alone is not enough and therefore he is unable to break the curse.
As I continue to watch this movie I do realize that Maleficent bears the love that would break this curse. Aurora grew up with her "Fairy Godmother" watching over her and protecting her. Maleficent showed her the world beyond the wall of thorns and what the moors used to be like when she was a child. After 16 years we see that the pair had built up this love between each other, something that is true and deep and meaningful and lasting.
I am quite pleased that, when Stefan ultimately dies in confrontation with Maleficent, that Aurora doesn't blindly revolt against Maleficent simply because he is her biological father. She is aware that someone hurt Maleficent a long time ago, that she once had wings. When she finds these wings in the casement she realizes why she was cursed and who caused all this pain. The wings were a part of Maleficent but they were their own entity and did not die. They fluttered to life to be one with the fairy protector.
Now we see that Maleficent is whole. A dark shadow over humanity is removed (Stefan, who is guilt-ridden and mad). Aurora does take her place as Queen but not just over the humans, over the moors as well. Philip eventually reenters and maybe they fall in love... I'm not sure he's really needed
I just love this version of the story so much more.
We see Maleficent as the young and innocent protagonist, turned antagonist. But we can't really hate her, not completely after we see all that she has been through. I sort of mistrusted Stefan from the start but I was hopeful. I like him less and less and he spiraled down and would not surrender to his guilt and admit that he was in the wrong. Instead, he isolated himself, internalized his guilt and tried to fight against the evil he created in Maleficent.
I think that's all I have to say about this. I hope I remember I like this movie a lot and perhaps I can return to it again. I think... this will be a great model of writing. The depth they have created for Maleficent... even how Stefan has fallen, is a great guide for creating characters in novels. It's what I hope to achieve. I hope to craft and express my characters as well as they have been in this movie.
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