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Here's something you don't see everyday....a dark feminist revisionist take on the villain of Disney's own Sleeping Beauty....created by Disney.
Sleeping Beauty is very much a straight forward damsel in distress princess and prince fairy tale, and Maleficent is very much a straightforward villain. She's evil because she's evil. She doesn't have a political agenda or any sort of motivation beyond being deliciously evil, she just is, and that's why I liked her! She goes beyond the usual animated stereotypical baddie whose motivations for being evil lie with some sort of power gain. So needless to say, a revisionist tale revolving around her being the actual hero of the story and giving her actual motivation as to why she is the way she is is something that I initially thought I wouldn't enjoy. It sounded unnecessary.
Keep in mind this movie IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. I feel the need to talk about it, especially on a forum dedicated to dark fantasy stories like NIMH, to explain what the picture is actually about. I'll let you decide whether or not you should go out and see it. So while I'm going to be mostly positive about the movie, that doesn't mean I can with a straight face recommend it to you....Here's why.....
The movie revolves around a happy winged fairy (Maleficent) who meets a boy in her kingdom (Stephen) while he is trying to steal a gem that belongs to the kingdom. They fall in love and Stephen introduces Maleficent to true love's first kiss. A few years pass....The humans want to take the riches from the kingdom for their own. Led by the king of the human kingdom, they attempt to storm the fairy land, but they are stopped by Maleficent and her army of tree people. The king, injured, places a bounty of Maleficent, which Stephen takes note of. He goes into the forest with a warning to Maleficent, but instead of helping her, he drugs her, ponders killing her with a dagger but instead cuts off her wings and leaves her. Maleficent wakes up gasping and moaning. Barely able to walk, she screams, her body damaged and violated....
....If what I described sounds a lot like a metaphor for sexual assault...that would be very astute of you.
And so, I can't recommend this movie to everyone. But I also think this movie is worth watching and supporting for those who are willing to see something different. Someone who's willing to see the movie through to its conclusion will see something they'd likely enjoy. Because the movie has a positive message about seeing the good in the world when there is seemingly little and finding support from those you can actually trust when trust and goodwill from others seems like it can no longer happen. It's not focusing on the exploitative parts of its metaphor, but uses it in such a way to bring out a message of hope.
So I think it's a rare, dark, and cool Disney movie that is funny and does justice to the source material that it's apparently trying to spoof. It's not perfect, besides Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty, the rest of the characters are one note, playing their parts just to do the opposite of what their original context was without much humanizing involved. I found the three fairies that are supposed to be looking after Sleeping Beauty very guilty of just being comic relief fodder. This however doesn't break the film and it comes recommended...for those willing to see it.