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    Yawned at Maleficent - and more (warning: mild spoilers)

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    ComiKate

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    Yawned at Maleficent - and more (warning: mild spoilers)

    Post  ComiKate on June 18th 2014, 4:30 pm

    Just returned home from Maleficent in the movie theatre. I'd been really excited to go, I loved the trailer and had heard good things about it. But alas, it hardly moved me, no matter how hard it tried.
    Although it was visually entertaining with some very cool fantasy creatures and great magic effects, and although it had some positive or at least relatively interesting plot points, it also had several very slow plot movements (I literally yawned several times) and some very superficial, two-dimensional characters - with the exception of Maleficent herself, but that was not enough to carry the entire movie, imho. Surrounded with two-dimensional characters, even the great Maleficent couldn't really get "3D".
    The Aurora character did nothing for me at all and was borderline annoying (to me) - except the little 5-year old version who was endearing, but then, she's Angelina's own daughter IRL so of course there was genuine love and chemistry there.

    Had this movie just been boring or mildly entertaining, I would not have bothered writing a post though. I would have simply shrugged and moved on.

    But here I am, at home, finding myself wondering why this movie actually irks me.
    This reminds me of Noah (the movie) a bit, which triggered the same pet peeve: suggesting you're telling one story by your title, but then really telling an entirely different story in which what's evil in the "real" story (suggested by the title) is portrayed as good, and vice versa. Isn't it gnosticism that teaches explicitly that Yahweh is the bad guy and that it was actually Lucifer who is good?

    Of course you could argue "Hey, but don't look at this as the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. It's just a variation, a modern day version, in fact, a different story altogether". I know. But I'm not buying that, not with Noah and not with Maleficent. Dear Mr. Director, if you really want to tell a different story, fine, then give it a different title. I'm convinced there's a reason they haven't done that. Given the movie titles and comparing it to their content, the suggestion is that you're invited to change some views you might hold.

    With Maleficent, I got that same vibe. I know the fairytale is not biblical, but that's not my point. My point is, that this movie tries to tell us that what we have learned about evil is actually not so evil at all, it may in fact be good - and it does that by way of the powerful symbolic storytelling convention of the fairytale. For this is created by Disney Studios: many of us know their original animated version. Many of us know that in that version, the witch is evil - so evil that she even turns into a dangerous dragon. A dragon that of course needs to be slain by the prince, before he can kiss the princess awake. A tale told so powerfully that I still remember it despite the fact that I saw the animated version as a little girl in 1978! (and yes, this dates me terribly I fear)
    Then Aurora marries the prince, who will soon be king - which in the end will make Aurora queen, and of course they live happily ever after. Clear messianic overtones, Christ marrying His bride, living happily forever - that resounds with something deep inside most of us.

    Now I'm a great fantasy lover mind you and have nothing at all against movies with dragons or magic - but this is Disney turning the tables on its own powerfully told tale, and I think very deliberately. In this movie, everything Disney had previously told us is now turned upside down. No more messianic message. What was evil is now good. What was good and heroic, the prince, the savior, now isn't really needed for anything in particular at all - except for some comic relief and perhaps, in the future, to entertain the queen. And the queen! Aurora becomes queen not by marriage to the King - but by being crowned by said Evil-But-In-Fact-Good party. It's the one we used to know as the evil one (the bad witch) who now is a kingmaker.

    Aaaargh, the longer I think about it the more irked I get.
    This also reminds me of Noah by the way, which got me so riled up I had to sit down and write an entire blog post (in Dutch) on it before the anger had left my system.

    Guess I'd better end my rant, then. Rolling Eyes

    mindspike
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    Re: Yawned at Maleficent - and more (warning: mild spoilers)

    Post  mindspike on June 20th 2014, 9:33 am

    ComiKate, you are not alone.

    My wife and I had much the same reaction as you to the movie, for many of the same reasons. We even sat down and did a whole podcast about it. Disney butchered their own mythology for a post-modern rendition of evil as "a certain point of view". This wasn't their only failing, either. The movie falls down on multiple story and character beats, resulting in a clunky, narcissistic, self-indulgent agenda-beater that decries altruism, masculinity, and motherhood as the trappings of a decadent, corrupt society.

    And just to be clear.
    Maleficent is not a movie worth watching.


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    Paeter
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    Re: Yawned at Maleficent - and more (warning: mild spoilers)

    Post  Paeter on June 23rd 2014, 4:53 pm

    Well, you may already know that I had a very different, and positive, reaction to the movie. I'm not a fan of the original animated film, having only vague memories of it. So I placed no obligation on Disney to be faithful to it in any way. In fact the entire premise of the movie is "Oh, you thought 'Sleeping Beauty' was how it all went down? Here's what REALLY happened."

    I appreciated ComiKate's examination of themes in Sleeping Beauty. I'd be surprised if Disney, even at that time, intended any of the Christ metaphor, but I appreciate those themes being brought out. But since I barely remember that flick, let alone any of its potential themes, I didn't see "Maleficent" as betraying anything artistically. Despite the veiled reference to the original story, I treated the two as completely separate entities.

    Setting story aside (since even I could tell this one would not please fans of well-crafted story), I can see how many might react negatively to the depiction of "evil" in this movie(if that's what it was). Like you guys, I've also reacted against some attempts to "take the evil out of evil" that we see in post-modern storytelling. This kind of thing may be a reflection of the modern desire to do away with the entire concept of evil. And the thought crossed my mind early on that they might be doing that in this movie.

    What kept me from moving in that direction was the fact that I never had the impression that Maleficent represented evil incarnate. She doesn't represent Satan in this movie. If I thought she did, and they were trying to make her, as the ultimate representation of evil, appear to be "not so bad after all", I'd have an issue with that.

    But I think Maleficent was intended to represent you or I under certain circumstances. And this being the case, I think allowing her to go from heroic to villainous to "recovering villain" is completely legitimate, and a representation of truth if she represents us and not ultimate evil, as the maleficent of the Sleeping Beauty was perhaps intended to.


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