i like that disney is introducing some reality to its fantastic tales. the theme is: true love ain’t just romantic love, hoss. and notice that they’re no longer champions of love at first sight/kiss.
(from hereon, let’s talk SPOILERS.)
let’s start with frozen:
frozen trumpeted filial love. it also introduced the notion that you could either be a bit too eager to be loved, or too closed off from any intimacy, and both aren’t good. it also introduced the notion that the “fixer-upper” could be a prince, and the too-good-to-be-true prince a jerk of the highest order.
message: beware. love your family, tho they can be a right pain in the neck. and you, plucky heroine, give the strange awkward dude with an ice obsession a chance (remember: he was raised by trolls! cute ones, but still, trolls!).
what can be darker than a tale of rape, yeah? old story, new story, someone gets raped. heavy stuff. ah, but the treatment.
see, we all get how maleficent was wronged. she was drugged, her trust was violated, she was assaulted, maimed: her wings, those very symbolic wings, were taken from her. for all these reasons, yes, she had all the incentive to be a right freaky bitch who would cast her shadow over the land of magic, declare herself queen bee, and curse a newborn simply for being the child of her bastard ex.
ah. but in the zeal to explain maleficent, everyone else gets to be a cardboard cutout. that’s what’s annoying about this movie.
aurora, who in the original stories is the actual rape victim, gets to be sweetness and light and mighty forgiving–not quite as passive as one would expect of someone fated to a sleep like death, which is good, but still, just a foil for maleficent. a shame, because more can be done with this girl. she likes monsters for crying out loud. but 90% of the time she’s smiling and giggling and getting saved from her curiosity. when she does get interesting by tearfully confronting her badmother, then trying to connect with her mad, bad daddy—that’s when the curse kicks in and she turns into a walking zombie. then, after making the monumental decision to forgive maleficent and help her escape daddy by freeing those freaky-beautiful wings, aurora turns back into a simpering airhead. that’s her happy ending: to be a bubbly teenage queen with an equally airy princeling prospect. (to the princeling’s credit, he did object initially that it didn’t seem right to kiss the slumbering princess. thanks disney, for that moment. yes, you’re teaching the kiddies the value of consent.)
but back to maleficent. this is all about her, after all. she apologized to aurora and all, but how about the little magic creatures she terrorized during her reign as queen bitch? all’s right in the realm, no harm no foul? tsk tsk disney.
also: getting back her wings is one thing, and the cathartic “it’s over” is satisfying too, but there was really no other way to go but to have the mad king topple to his death, yeah? of course, for rape victims this is the fantasy: killing your demon. because you don’t usually get to do this for real. and your inner child doesn’t get soothed that the bad man is gone. and to all accounts, you’re scarred for life and sometimes you just keep reliving the nightmare.
i think the message that disney wanted to give is: your trauma is healed by forgiveness. aurora has it down pat. (maybe even much too pat.) maleficent, her damage makes it harder, plus the fact that her paranoid ex really tried to finish her off, in the end. (actually, he’s the most interesting secondary char here, his struggle as an ambitious urchin-turned-courtier who ultimately turned on his friend, his decline into guilty paranoia and madness. a pity we didn’t see enough of his anakin inside the darth vader. but yeah, he had to die for being a right prick.)
all in all, i didn’t get the fuzzies with maleficent. and the lady, glorious as she is, didn’t allow much leeway for anyone else really to show themselves. just because the movie is named after you, doesn’t mean you should hog the screen…
is that being unreasonable? let me get back to you when I’ve thought about it some more.
but yeah, frozen taught us to “let it go.”
maleficent showed us to “hold it, hold it, hoooooold it… oh what a cute beastie… hey man, it’s over!” wait, what just happened?