Let me start out by saying that I’ve been waiting for this movie ever since they leaked out the pics of Angelina Jolie in her Maleficent make up. Growing up, I didn’t particularly find the story of Sleeping Beauty all that appealing, not the Disney version (though we played that tape so much in my house), and definitely not to the version where the prince has her way with her unconscious body and she gets pregnant only for the babies that are born to suck out the poison from her pricked finger. See, not that all appealing because one has been Disneyfied and the other is just really, really, wrong.
Going into the movie theater to see this movie all I could think about was that I didn’t want ‘True Love’s Kiss’ to make everything better. I’m so sick and tired of True Love’s Kiss! Why is it that the person you met for less than five minutes is immediately your True Love?! What if this person snores? Or puts their feet on the coffee table? Or doesn’t read?! (As you can see I have a list of what makes a proper True Love). So, going in I already had hopes of what I wanted the movie to be and just waiting for all my hopes to be crashed because this is Disney and I had watched the original animated Sleeping Beauty enough times to know how the story went.
That, of course, was my first mistake. This wasn’t the story of Sleeping Beauty; this was the story of Maleficent! This was the story of the bad guy I’ve always liked (because dragons!) when I was little. This was the background story that I always wanted to see because I’ve always wondered why Maleficent was evil/bad/not good. Simple answer: True Love’s Kiss.
The movie begins very simply with Maleficent as a small fairy child (probably 12ish) and she’s super cute with her feathery wings and her horns. She cured broken trees, she said hello to all her fairy friends; she was a happy magical child and it was fantastic. But on the other side of the magical land that Maleficent and all her fairy companions lived in (called the Moors), there was the human kingdom. The human kingdom only had a couple of things in mind and that was greed and taking over all the resources of the Moors for themselves. Unsurprisingly, the first thing that Maleficent sees of humanity’s greed is from a small boy that sneaked into the Moors and stole a jewel from the fairies. The boy, named Stephan, thinks he’ll be killed for what he did, but Maleficent, being one of the bigger fairies, has put it in her mind to protect her home and tells the boy that fairies don’t kill for stealing and that the boy has to give back the jewel. This starts out an unlikely friendship between human and fairy and it’s so grand because we think this boy will be Maleficent’s True Love! He even got rid of the iron ring he had so that he wouldn’t hurt Maleficent because as Maleficent tells him “Iron hurts fairies.” The boy visits Maleficent all throughout their youth until when Maleficent turns 16 the boy decides to give her True Love’s Kiss.
Years go by and Maleficent has appointed herself the guardian of the Moors, violently keeping back the human kingdom from getting into her homeland and hurting what Maleficent considers family. The King even decides to join in the battle but I guess he wasn’t expecting walking trees, or flying tree dragons, or flying fairy women! The King issues a task for all those in the kingdom that whoever manages to get Maleficent’s head will become his successor and king upon the his death (and marry his daughter). Except, no one can get into the Moors unless Maleficent says so and allows it to happen. The only one who has managed to go in and not get hurt is that boy from her childhood, her True Love’s Kiss, now an adviser to the king and the only one that knows how to hurt fairies. Stephan, as most humans, has been corrupted by greed and the only thing that he can think to do to get ahead in life is sit on that throne. Stephan manages to get back into Maleficent’s good graces even though he hasn’t been to the Moors in ages. She forgives him and it’s like they were never apart… and Stephan drugs her! He drugs her and takes her wings the only way he knows how and makes himself the king!
Years and years go by and Maleficent learns that King Stephan is having a ceremony in honor of the new baby. Maleficent decides to crash the party, as in the Disney movie, and curses the baby in order to get back at the man that took her wings and that professed to love her only to do something so heinous. The curse is simple enough, she pricks her fingers on a spinning wheel, she falls into a deep eternal sleep that can only be woken by True Love’s Kiss… something that Maleficent doesn’t believe in and something that Stephan doesn’t believe in. Stephan is freaked out so he burns every spindle in the castle and asks the three fairies that had come to the celebration as a show of good will amongst magic and humans. The three fairies are completely useless and the only thing keeping baby Aurora alive is the fact that Maleficent is always in the background making sure she survives until adulthood (mid-teens?). Naturally it would hurt the king even more to see that his daughter managed to grow up to be 16 only to be as good as dead for all of eternity.
I’m not going to say more, just that there’s a lot of fighting and fire. There’s King Stephan’s greed getting worse and worse as the years pass by and his paranoia that Maleficent will get back at him by killing for taking her wings. Maleficent isn’t the villain you knew her in Sleeping Beauty but she’s not entirely different from the movie either.
It’s dark, it’s hopeful, it’s the story told from the point of view of someone that lived it rather than the story that was told over and over and over again so much so that it has lost meaning over time and only become the story we know today. This is the story in its bare bones. This is the story of True Love’s Kiss. This is Maleficent’s story in a way that you did not expect, told from someone that was there and that lived it. This is the story told from someone that wasn’t tainted by humanity’s greed or humanity’s obfuscating that basically made her out to be the villain that we all know from childhood. (Even though she is the villain).
If you want to know what happens at the end or any of the in between bits, go watch the movie. Bring your daughter! Bring your son! Bring your girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife! Bring everyone you know! This movie is so great and surprising in ways that I didn’t expect but that I had no idea I’ve always wanted. 5/5 would rewatch over and over again.