The Real Story of How the Fairy Lost its Wings

We all know the story: “Once upon a time”, damsel in distress, saved by prince charming, then a happily ever after. However, this week, audiences get to see a different, darker side to this over-worked story line. At this week’s Denver premier, 303 Magazine’s Film and TV staff got to look into a set of large, yellow-green eyes, high cheek bones and a wicked smile… no, not the Cheshire Cat, but Maleficent herself, in one of Disney’s darker fairy tale adaptations.

The story lies in the detail behind the scenes of the original Sleeping Beauty; as such, there isn’t much of the plot that can be summarized without giving too much away. Saying that, Maleficent makes us rethink the story we were told as children. It is about a young fairy girl, betrayed by mankind, and as a result she becomes the villain we know and fear. This movie explores what really goes on during the 16 years that Aurora grows up away from the castle. With an emphasis more on the relationship of the characters rather than the plot, it aims to tell audiences the “truth” of what really happened, and see the classic story through a different perspective.

Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip

Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip

Maleficent is played by Angelina Jolie.  Jolie is her usual smoldering self and doesn’t disappoint. She perfectly portrays the complicated life of a villain, and it is up to the audiences to find out whether she is just misunderstood or inexcusably evil. Whatever the conclusion, she embodies a very believable Maleficent. The beautiful, joyous and cursed princess is played by none other than the adorable, bunny-faced Elle Fanning. And, of course, Maleficent must have her raven; however, this movie gives him a name, Diaval, played by Sam Riley, whose charismatic personality gives him a simple, entertaining quality. Finally, the story wouldn’t be right without the three fairies: Flittle (Lesley Manville), Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton) and Thistletwit (Juno Temple). Fans will know Imelda Staunton from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, among other films, and of course, she is in her usual color of pink. Character choice is very important to this movie; for example, it was visually interesting to see the harsh, striking elements of Angelina Jolie’s face contrast with the soft characteristics of Elle Fanning’s. As well as symbolic, these visuals are appropriate and necessary because much of the movie’s glory lies in the artistry.

Thistletwit, Knotgrass and Flittle

Thistletwit, Knotgrass and Flittle

Robert Stromberg, famous for his special effects in movies like The Golden Compass, Pan’s Labyrinth and Life of Pi, takes on his first directing venture in Maleficent. His film history is evident within this movie due to the importance it places on visual effects. It was beautiful to watch this magical fairyland spring to life before my eyes. It creates a high fantasy, which doesn’t quite make you feel that their world is real, but has the ability to make you feel that it could be real–in a different realm of a different world. Maleficent is visually striking and creates an escapism quality you might not want to escape from.

My only real criticism is that I wish it would have stuck closer to the original plot in order to make the events they added in between the story line more believable. Despite that, and the fact that I am a fan of the classics, I was pleased with this adaptation. Different perspectives are extremely important to today’s society, and it’s good to see that they don’t let fairy tales die, they just make you think about them differently, question the things you have been told, and most importantly, not judge a fairy by its horns unless you have walked a mile in her black leather boots. Audiences will get that opportunity in Disney’s darker, artistic rendition of this classic fairy tale.

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