Once you learn how to spell the slightly weird name, you should be ready to enjoy Disney’s new spin on the 1959 classic, Sleeping Beauty. But even though it’s a remake of a fairy tale, the trailer had me wondering if I’d be able to sleep without nightmares after watching it.
Rather than a focus on a princess-in-distress, the film recounts the history behind ‘wicked witch’ Maleficent. A fairy herself who lives in the moors, Maleficent wreaks havoc over the human kingdom as her wings are stolen from her former lover-now-betrayer, Stefan. In a plot to take revenge on Stefan (Sharlto Copley), she curses his only daughter Aurora, AKA Sleeping Beauty (Fanning) to an eternal sleep. The only way Aurora is to be woken is by receiving “true love’s kiss”…
A complex Disney movie
How did I find the film? Personally, I found Jolie’s performance to be outstanding! I’m not sure whether it’s a compliment to say that she was ‘made’ for the role (Jolie’s probably not that scary in person, right?). I have to commend it to the costume designers and make-up artists – they really nailed Maleficent’s frightening factor!
Thinking back over the major themes, I appreciated how complex the characters were. There is no clear divide between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Each person seems to have their selfish ambitions, fits of rage, and lust for dominion and power. I was reminded of how the Bible describes these desires:
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)
We see a lot of death in the film. But the root of it all is evil desire. Whilst I didn’t condone Maleficent’s decisions and actions entirely, I could esteem the representation of the character. Is she an antagonist, or a protagonist? Things aren’t so clear. But what we can see is that we too are mixed with good and evil motives. Maleficent was unable to control her anger-fuelled curse on Aurora, but lamented her decision as she saw the beautiful girl flourish.
I think Maleficent brings up important matters which reflect our world’s situation today. For when are different governments, authorities and powers not seeking their own gain, at a cost to those around them? For Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ, being God himself, will one day return to restore peace. I love this passage from Colossians 1:15-22:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities… For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.
People (not just fairies!) have mixed motives and emotions; but what will restore peace and harmony to all humanity? Will “true love’s kiss” solve humanity’s struggle against one another? It’s nice, but it’s not going to fix the problem. We need someone greater to do that. But I commend Disney for bringing up deeper questions about the nature of humanity through Maleficent.
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