Those of us who grew up with the classic Disney films have had the joy (or maybe sorrow?) of seeing these stories turned into live-action flicks over the past several years. Quite possibly the best part of these remakes was the portrayal of the villains. Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil in the 1996 version of 101 Dalmatians, for example, made me decide I’d much rather work for the cynical, harsh editor Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. Also, Charlize Theron’s recent evil queen in Snow White & the Huntsman sparked in me a new appreciation for a villain I had otherwise thought rather shallow. Now it’s time to make way for some visible horns.
Set to release in 3D on March 14, 2014, Maleficent promises to share the other side to the 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty, this time focusing on development of Maleficent’s character. The official Disney statement said, “The film reveals the events that hardened her heart and drove her to curse the baby, Aurora” (LATimes). Directed by Robert Stromberg (production designer for Avatar and Alice in Wonderland) the cast is being led by Angelina Jolie, who has “already got her horns fitted” and has taken on the gutsy task of performing some of her own stunts. Jolie points out in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that Maleficent is a multi-layered character who has her strengths and weaknesses just like any other person:
I hope in the end you see a woman who is capable of being many things, and just because she protects herself and is aggressive, it doesn’t mean she can’t have other [warmer] qualities. You have to figure out the puzzle of what she is… It sounds really crazy to say that there will be something that’s good for young girls in this, because it sounds like you’re saying they should be a villain. [Maleficent] is actually a great person. But she’s not perfect. She’s far from perfect. (EW)
The film also stars Elle Fanning as Maleficent’s opposite, Princess Aurora, as well as Juno Temple, Harlto Copley, and Imelda Staunton. Production has already started in England, and apparently the Jolie-Pitt kids are making some trips to see their mother perform in all her robed glory.
Since Maleficent was always one of my favorite villains because she was just so purely dark and wicked, I am both curious and hesitant to see this production in its final release. I’m always interested in hearing the other side of the story; that’s just a reasonable, fair way to learn and interact with other people in life. However, I don’t believe that younger children should see this film, as their young minds are used to more black and white standards, and will not be able to fully grasp the situation of Maleficent’s proposed internal struggles and development. The nature of such a character is probably better saved for more mature audiences, such as teens on up, who can discuss and analyze that character and all her decisions and the impact they make.
Overall, for a character whom I believe most people thus far have considered 100% evil (I mean, really, who doesn’t? She invokes the powers of hell, which seems pretty darn evil), Maleficent definitely promises to shed some new light on this horned female; we’ll just have to wait to see if that light will give us some nourishing vitamin D or if it will leave our skin burned and peeling.