Monthly Feature: Maleficent- Really?

I talk about the art, music and movies that I have adored in the Monthly Feature. For the month of June, I present my views on a movie quite differently than I have done before.

What’s true love? Disney Animations and Pictures seem to change the notion that true love is always a romantic orientation. That’s what we saw in Brave, Frozen and Maleficent.

Maleficent: Meaning
The Dictionary.com defines maleficent as “doing evil or harm”. The dark fairy from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959) is named and meant so. She is the villain who curses the beautiful princess Aurora to an infinite sleep only to be broken by “a true love’s kiss”.

Maleficent Revived

The same Maleficent was revived in the 2014 Disney live action movie of the same name. I had watched both the versions in the same year, unintentionally and I had felt that 1959 movie was more about the villainous Maleficent than the heroine Aurora. Yet, the movie seemed incomplete. I had not been able to understand why the fairy had to be angry at all.

Linda Wolverton, the script writer of the 2014 movie seemed to have noticed the same. So she added a back story where Maleficent’s wings are cut stolen by Stefan to gain powers for himself. The story adds details to why the fairy was angry with King Stefan.

The Villain

The king had stolen her wings- her pride and her fun. She even rescued a raven and named him Diaval. “You will become my wings,” she says something like that. She, however goes to the name-giving ceremony of the king’s daughter and curses that the girl would fall asleep on her sixteenth birthday after being pricked by the spindle of a spinning wheel. The curse could be broken only by a true love’s kiss. (She gives the condition of the breaking of the curse believing that true love does not exist.)

Wait! What was the little girl’s mistake? I don’t understand why Maleficent curses the little girl. Maybe she had psychological problems. (We do not know!) She has magical powers and all. She could have defeated Stefan then and there. Yet she chooses to curse the daughter. Maybe they wanted to show her association with the Princess who slept, which we see later. Maybe she did not like that particular child, we do not understand why. Thereby, Maleficent makes herself a villain.

But the land Stefan ruled must have suffered a lot. All the spinning wheels are thrown, dumped or burnt. Imagine the amount of clothes they could have produced in sixteen years. Forget Aurora and through the curse, Maleficent handicaps their economy.

Villain- Is She Yet?
To prevent the curse, the king sends his daughter with three pixies without even testing their competence. (What kind of father is he?) The dark fairy learns from Diaval that the little girl is not being taken care of. For her interest of bringing the curse true, she takes care of the child. But she also loves the child as her own as time passes.

Maleficent, when she understands that she loves the child, tries to break the curse. But she herself had told that it was unbreakable. Aurora, the Princess sleeps. The fairy brings up a Prince and tells him to kiss the girl. But it goes in vain. How could an attraction of some moments be true love? She knows she made a mistake. She asks for forgiveness and kissing her goddaughter’s forehead. Turns out Maleficent’s motherly love was true even if she had a selfish interest in the beginning.

So, is she yet a villain? Maybe Disney Pictures still say she is. Maybe Wolverton still believes in the villainous Maleficent. But the truth is that at the end of the movie, she does not remain a villain anymore. She has been transformed by the love she developed for Aurora. And she even regrets from having cursed her as a child.

That was the best thing about the movie for me. The transformation was the only reason I was able to forgive her act of cursing a child. Her name might suggest that she is still malicious. But she is not one dimensional word whose meaning cannot be changed. Maleficent is a fairy, cheated by a human. If her anger is justified, why not the change she undergoes? Wolverton still calling Maleficent a villain after a change of heart does not give her any justice.

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5 thoughts on “Monthly Feature: Maleficent- Really?

  1. What an in-depth analysis. Great post!
    You are right about transformation and repentance bringing about forgiveness, but in this case, Maleficent doesn’t appear to be a hundred percent evil, because to feel repentance, there must be some degree (however small) of empathy in a person, and true evil wouldn’t have it. That is why your final statement about forgiveness carries such deep meaning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Monthly Feature 12: Let’s take a “Breathless” Revision – Stories of Sandeept

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