I’d heard about the movie Maleficent for a long time, but I only recently got to watch it. I knew the basic story of Sleeping Beauty from cartoons I watched as a kid: a princess falls asleep and can only be awoken by “true love’s kiss.” That made me wonder why anyone would kiss someone who was sleeping—it seemed strange. But apparently, not according to this fairy tale!
I had assumed Angelina Jolie might be the villain of the movie, but I wasn’t sure how she would be related to Maleficent or Sleeping Beauty. The movie starts with two kingdoms: one for humans and one for fairies in Moors, a magical place they protect from humans who are jealous, hungry for power and destructive. We meet Maleficent as a little fairy with a charming personality that everyone loves. One day Stefan, a human kid, trespasses into Moors. Despite clashes between humans and fairies, Maleficent and Stefan become friends and start hanging out together.
As I watched the movie, I forgot all about Sleeping Beauty and Angelina Jolie. Maleficent and Stefan grew up and fell in love. Then one day, Stefan disappeared. He had always wanted power and riches; he showed Maleficent a castle, saying he wished to live there someday. It wasn’t a lie.
Stefan grew up to be the King’s man. The King then called off a war with the fairies, but lost against Maleficent’s magical power. Lost and enraged, the King asked his men to bring him her head, and he promised to name that person his successor. This was Stefan’s perfect opportunity. After a long time, he snuck into Moors to meet his childhood love Maleficent. He told her that the King’s men were coming for her… That night he gave her some mysterious drinks; as soon as she fell asleep, he cut off her magnificent wings and fled away. When Maleficent woke up in excruciating pain, she realized that her wings had been stolen—by none other than the person she loved most of all.
Broken and betrayed, Maleficent cried her heart out and stood on her feet. She cast a spell on a crow, transforming it into Diava. Diava flew to the humans’ kingdom and brought back news for her.
Stefan became king after presenting Maleficent’s wings to the king. He married another woman and started a family. King Stefan and his queen had a daughter, so they held a grand celebration for the newborn. Maleficent entered the ceremony and cursed baby Aurora to take revenge.
She cursed Aurora to prick her finger on a spinning wheel’s spindle and fall asleep for life. The king and queen were heartbroken by the curse, so Stefan begged her for mercy. She added that only a true love’s kiss could awaken Aurora. No power in the world could undo the spell, and it would last until the end of time.
Ok, so now it makes sense. I thought Maleficent was the nice fairy and sympathized with her until the curse scene shocked me. I didn’t know who to support then! Stefan’s actions were unforgivable, but cursing an innocent newborn was also wrong. Maleficent became dark and evil…
King Stefan went mad and commanded his people to gather all the spindles in the kingdom and hide them away. He assigned three fairies to care for Aurora, sending them far from his realm. The fairies were not the best choice to look after her, and poor Aurora often cried through the night out of hunger.
Maleficent and the crow Diava kept a close eye on them. She called her “Beasty,” wanting to hate her but unable to—even saving her from falling off a cliff. Maleficent watched her every day, and her hatred for Beasty faded away. Aurora grew up to be lovely, just the day before turning 16 she tried entering Moors, so Maleficent took her inside. All this time Aurora thought of Maleficent as a fairy godmother. Moved by Aurora’s innocence and purity of heart, Maleficent wanted to lift the curse from her—but failed in doing so. Desperate for a way out, she searched for one that would save poor Aurora from the curse; yet hopeless because she didn’t believe in true love’s existence…
Meanwhile, Aurora met Prince Phillip who was lost on his way to King Stefan’s castle. They liked each other at first sight! Come on guys! Sleeping Beauty needs saving!
Aurora loved Moors so much that she asked her fairy Godmother if she could stay there. When she told her guardian fairies, they revealed her true identity and the curse. She hurried back to King Stefan who had gone mad from hearing Maleficent’s screams every night. He locked himself in a dark room and refused to meet anyone; he knew Maleficent would return. Upon Aurora’s arrival, the king commanded his men to lock her in a room.
Little did he know, the spell was so powerful that nothing could defy it. Maleficent wanted to save Aurora at any cost and captured Prince Philip before riding to the castle. She knew her curse had become reality and she wanted to do everything in her power to make it right. So, she left Prince Philip outside the room where Aurora slept; already having pricked her finger and fallen asleep. The prince kissed her but it didn’t work—now what?
Maleficent’s fear of losing Aurora was about to become reality. Maybe true love doesn’t exist. It certainly doesn’t happen at first sight. (Yes, someone had to say it!) Lost and broken, she wanted to protect Aurora from the curse. Tears streamed down Maleficent’s face as she gazed upon Aurora sleeping; she kissed her forehead and turned away – but then, Aurora opened her eyes.
Hell yeah! That’s a great move. The movie shattered the stereotype that only a prince can save a princess. A lead character doesn’t have to be overly nice, and an evil person can change for the better.
Maleficent didn’t realize how much she loved and cared for Aurora until then. Her love broke the spell. The movie ends with a final battle against Stefan, Aurora freeing Maleficent’s wings from a dark room in the castle, and Aurora being declared queen of both humans and fairies. Forgiveness is the greatest virtue! I absolutely adore how Maleficent’s character was developed – it’s definitely the best adaptation of Sleeping Beauty.
Fun fact: The role of little Aurora is played by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s daughter Vivienne Jolie-Pitt. Apparently it was difficult to get a child to not get scared by the hideous look of Maleficent. When it came to little Vivienne, she was having fun with her mother and couldn’t care less about the horns on Jolie’s head!
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