Maleficent: A Story of Redemption
By Andy Herndon (@andyherndon)
I once again saw Disney’s Maleficent this weekend, taking my wife with me as she did not get to see it last weekend. I honestly fell more in love with the movie, especially seeing it in 3D this time.
This movie has either been loved or hated, by critics, pundents and movie fans. I tend to be pretty critical when it comes to movies, yet I loved this one so much. There has been much speculation on what this movie was really about. Issues of feminism and the role of evil in the world have all been thrown around in reviews. Many have seen these themes as good things while other have been horrified by them. Then there are the Disney purists who can not believe the liberties that were taken in this retelling of the old fairy tale.
Let me first address the Disney purists. This is not a remake of the animated classic. This is 2014 not 1957. The story is Maleficent, not Sleeping Beauty. For all the Disney purists that are crying foul right now, all I can say is get use to it. There are many more live action adaptations of Disney animated films, for better or worse. As long as they make money they will continue.
Like I said in an opinion piece a few weeks ago, these remakes are not a bad thing. They introduce the story to a new audience and will also heighten interest in the originals from which they were adapted. I understand many will write off Disney and long for the days of Walt. Yet I believe these movies are in the spirit of Walt, who’s mantra was “keep moving forward”. These remakes pay homage to the past while bringing Disney forward.
The issue of feminist themes has been a constant refrain I have been hearing from feminists and none feminists who are both love and hate this movie. The ideas of feminism have come mostly, I believe, from the perceived negative portrayal of men in this film. I just don’t see it. King Stephen is a obsessive twit, jerk and a coward. Prince Philip really isn’t any different than any other 16 year old boy. So where is this negative portrayal of men. King Stephen betrayed Maleficent. He hurt her deeply. Does it matter what Gender Stephan was? We’ve all had friends, family and others betray us. The betrayal is just as hurtful whether it is done by a man or a woman.
Then there are this who say that this retelling of the story is condoning evil. I do understand where they are coming from yet disagree with their reasoning. The argument goes that Disney, in this retelling, is saying evil is okay as long as the outcome is good. I just don’t see that.
The story of Maleficent is complex but so true for today’s society. Maleficent let herself be defined by her past. We’ve all had those people and situations in our past who have hurt us deeply. These hurts will often stay with us for years. Yet we can not let the things people have done to us define who we are. Maleficent was betrayed by Stephan. She carried that hurt for so long that it defined her identity. It was through her relationship with Aurora that she was able to break through the hurt, pain and betrayal she felt to get to the person she really was. She finally learned to let go of that pain and love again. Maleficent is a redemption story. A story of how we are not defined by what other people have done to us and our past. A story of how we can overcome pain and suffering to love again!