By Karen E. Chin
SPOILER ALERT! This article reveals many plot twists. It would be like reading a Wikipedia article, before going to see the movie. 😀
Disney’s latest movie Maleficent is formed around their 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. Only this time, it’s told from the perspective of the evil witch named Maleficent – a fairy who is scorned and drawn into evil by betrayal and the heart-wrenching loss of love.
The movie deviates from the classic storyline, in which Aurora the “sleeping beauty” is woken from her evil spell by true love’s kiss. That was Disney’s modification to the original storyline anyway. According to its darker origins, she was actually repeatedly raped by a king who found her and was woken by her child who removed the spindle from her thumb by sucking on it.
However history goes with the story about Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent now tells a fresh, new story from the perspective of the villain – and I found that this time Disney and its producers held its main female characters in a stronger light than before.
On a side-note, it might excite some hardcore Sleeping Beauty fans to see that the dialogue where Maleficent shows up at Aurora’s christening ceremony is almost to the dot to the dialogue in the 1959 animation. (Kudos to Angelina Jolie’s awesome portrayal.)
Prince Charmings are Overrated!
What most feminists would love about the movie is that Prince Charming held a very insignificant role in the movie.
Previously, it distressed me to see Aurora and Prince Philip (also known as Prince Charming) to meet for a brief moment of song and dance – and fall helplessly in love with each other.
Yes, this time Aurora was still obviously smitten by his good looks and charms on their first encounter, but that did not mean that he immediately became her true love. Hence, he wasn’t the one to break the evil curse bestowed upon her.
Even at the end of the movie, Prince Charming stood charmingly aside with his adoring (and I would admit it – swoon-worthy) smile, but never in the limelight, as Aurora stood on her own and represented herself. Who was Aurora’s true love, you may ask? Who did the spell-breaking kiss belong to?
Contemporary View On True Love (And Its Kiss)
Love comes in many forms, and in Maleficent it came in the form of a strong bond of friendship from a heart capable of unconditional love.
Set in undesirable circumstances, the seemingly evil Maleficent grew to love Aurora with a love that was pure that it broke the curse. This surprised Maleficent herself, as she had said in her bitter state, “The curse was made in a way that cannot be broken, because there is no such thing as true love’s kiss!”
Her statement was based on her bad experience with a douche-bag – peasant-who-became-King Stefan, in this case – when her belief of true love had literally left her emasculated by his betrayal when he took her wings. Apparently, the love she never knew she was capable of was apparently the truest and strongest.
Those were the most apparent “girl-power” signs in the movie. Here are some more insignificant observations which I felt were good traits for women.
Knowing Your Own Style
Maleficent stood out in the moor she ruled (regardless of whether it was by choice or not) through her dark façade – dark clothes, curling horns, smoldering eyes and red lips. She exuded power as a protector of the moors; even when she turned evil, she was just as powerful (albeit in the wrong direction). She stayed true to her style, and that showed a woman who knew herself.
Not Moping Around Waiting For A Man
Maleficent met Stefan and fell in love with him when they were mere children and into their late teens. While he was gone, she did not mope around for him although it was clear that her heart deeply longed for him and that she was lonely. She grew up as a strong protector of the moor and carried out her duties well, with or without a man.
Allowing Yourself to Fall in Love
Being a strong female also means being strong with your unique feminine traits. It means being a generous giver, a passionate lover, a forgiver – strong in feminine traits. She allowed herself to fall in love and to trust, and that is always a risk.
Many people do not dare to take the risk of falling in love, for fear of getting hurt. She took a risk and was hurt beyond words – betrayed and ripped of her strength and identity.
Yes, she went through hell, built up walls and turned evil – but she did take a chance on love and that’s not easy. At the very end, she forgave the very source of her downfall and found that she could love and be happy again.
Picking Yourself Up
After being betrayed and heartbroken, Maleficent put herself back together with any strength she could muster. Yes, she channeled it into something negative and vengeful; but, we could all take a cue from her won’t-take-it-lying-down attitude and fight back when we have been pushed down. Dedicate yourself to being the best you can be, and do whatever it takes to pick yourself back up again. Just don’t hurt anyone like Maleficent did – the best revenge is when you go get yourself a better life!
Maleficent had all the power of a smart and cool woman to rule over the moors and also to manage her assistant crow Diaval. There shouldn’t be a time when women in power who do the same thing as their male peers are called “bossy”; Out with sexism and as Beyonce sings, “Who run the world? GIRLS!”
What I love most about Maleficent is her ability to be calm and collected even when placed in the most difficult situations.
Admitting Your Mistakes and Owning Them
It is wrong when people who are seemingly strong and proud think that if they admit their mistakes, they are weak. It is actually the weak and fragile who cannot own up to their flaws and mistakes.
Maleficent regretted the curse she placed upon Aurora and tries to sweep up her own mess. At one critical point of conflict she told her faithful assistant Diaval, “You don’t have to come, this is my battle to fight” and walked right into confrontation.
And just a final note, I loved how Maleficent wore pants in the final fight scene. 😀