Horizon at Sandy Point

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Maleficent and the Sleeping Beauty

Magic happens in movies. New interpretations, 3D formats, inventive and interactive landscapes, marvellous stunts are lifting stories off the page. They have the power to invigorate old myths, to tease out fresh meaning and inspire ideas about identity and one's place in the world. More vivid than the stuff of dreams, movies have the power to present subtlety and frailty; but more than anything else, mysterious and magical transformations.

The newest retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale is masterful in its use of the medium. Isobelle Molley plays the young Maleficent with healing hands. She returns the precious jewel to the pond and reproaches but forgives the young human boy Stefan for his theft. Ella Purnell is blossoming Maleficent who receives her first kiss. But it is Angelina Jolie who comes into her full power as personification and protector of the fair land called the Moors.

It neighbours the land of men, ruled by the expansionist king who has cast a long eye on the fair land. Harmony innocence and sustainability on the one hand; ambition, greed and schemes on the other. Community and eco-conscience in the fairy realm; massed armies and subjects bent by the will of the king in the other.

And so, it happens that Maleficent is drugged and duped and loses her wings. Her sorrow and pain are released in a mighty scream and a light goes out that is seen everywhere. This is the backstory to the Sleeping Beauty, the baby cursed by Maleficent to prick her finger on a spindle before the end of her 16th birthday and fall into a deep sleep from which she might only be awakened by true love's kiss.

We see Aurora grow up. She's played by Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, Angelina's daughter, at five years old. And by Eleanor Worthington-Cox at eight. But it is the lovely Elle Fanning (the giggly but grown up 14-year old in We Bought a Zoo) who delivers Beastie's (as she's called by Maleficent since she was a baby) promise, the hope for peace again between the kingdom of men and the fair lands.

When Maleficent loses her wings, it is a rape. Who better to deliver the emotion and pathos than Angelina who is speaking out for women everywhere, and working to change the law and fate and self-esteem of those who are raped in war. She saves a crow that is being bludgeoned to death and gains an ally who becomes her wings. The crow in human form is Diaval played with wry humour by Sam Riley. He pledges himself to Maleficent's service, and as a crow, becomes her loyal informer. He allows himself to be transformed into creatures for her defence: wolf, human or dragon.

As for Sleeping Beauty: aren't we all walking dreamers, longing for the fairy tale? Hopefully, we will be able to recognise truth when it intervenes.

In the end, Maleficent regains her wings. Aurora wakes up. The lands are united. Peace reigns. And that's all I will say. Go and see the movie. It's worth it.

See the trailer here:

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