Monday, 12 September 2016

Maleficent (2014)

"True love does not exist!"

OK, I haven't seen Sleeping Beauty yet- although, being the father of an 18 month old girl, in sure I will. But I get the point of this; to offer an alternative viewpoint of the same events from the same version of the same fairytale, just from another character's point of view, and revealing motives that are quite different from an apparent villain. It is, in other words, a massive retcon.

And it really works, much as I'm sure I'd have appreciated it more if I'd seen the cartoon. Angelina Jolie is superb in what is a finely judged performance, as is the whole cast, although why American actors seem reluctant to use their native accents in anything vaguely mediaeval is quite beyond me.

There's a hint of human corruption versus metahuman innocence; the "Moor" very much recalls the myth of Eden, and it's interesting that the very name recalls a kind of othering of their southern neighbours by mediaeval Christendom. There's also the hint of warlike masculinity versus a protective femininity; there are a pleasing number of potential subtexts here to encourage all kinds of readings.

But the climax is undoubtedly feminist; the princess is awakes by her slumbers by the true love not of a handsome prince but of a mother, and King Stefan is well and truly defeated. A fascinatingly rich and textures execution of a very intriguing idea.

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