Monday, 14 March 2016


“Until lions write their own history, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” – African Proverb

We watched the 2014 Robert Stromberg movie “Maleficent” at the weekend. It starred Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley and Imelda Staunton. This movie was based on the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, especially so the 1959 Disney animated version. However, the movie is different from many other such Disney movies: It not animated (although there are quite spectacular special effects and computer generated imaging); it is not a musical (thankfully!) and it takes a slightly different tack to the conventional fairy tale in that there is a bit of grey in the tale, rather than the stark black and white of most fairy tales.

The Maleficent of the title is of course the “evil” witch of the classic Sleeping Beauty tale and Angelina Jolie makes this her movie while playing this role. However, is Maleficent really evil? Or rather, if she is, what turned her evil? We get to see the whole story and the classic tale has a new feminist twist.

The movie starts with Maleficent as a beautiful, pure-hearted young woman having an idyllic life growing up in a peaceful forest kingdom. One day an invading army threatens the harmony of her land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she suffers a ruthless betrayal and her heart turns to stone. What transpires is a tale of vengeance. The way that Maleficent interacts with the young princess Aurora makes this movie one of redemption.

The movie is difficult to classify. It isn’t really for the younger children as it is quite dark and has some disturbing images and complex themes. Yet, it really is not one that will satisfy many of the “grown-ups”. Perhaps it is a film for the adults with a young heart. The CGIs are quite spectacular and Jolie pulls all stops out to play her role with a great deal of gusto. There is quite a lot of good chemistry between Maleficent and her familiar man/crow “Diaval” (played by Sam Riley). Elle Fanning as Aurora is satisfactory, but she still has to earn some acting stars to play against the top brass of the acting world.

Overall, we enjoyed the movie and recommend it to the young at heart who enjoy a bit of stuff and nonsense and fantasy. There is a bit of a sub-text of feminism and the reclaiming of the old fairy tale for the new-age 21st century woman, but it is kept under control and doesn’t interfere with the story too much.

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