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Monday, 7 July 2014

I Know You, I Walked With You Once Upon A Dream

Dear friends,

**WARNING!!! This post contains a review of Maleficent, where both the positive and the negative character of the story is played by the talented Angelina Jolie. It may turn out to be an extensive post so please grab yourself a cup of tea and a warm blanket and Enjoy! Be careful and read not this post if you did not see the movie, it is a huge spoiler ;)**
If you are with me for a long time, you may have seen me mentioning last year of a trailer that turned my head and made me stare in wonder and awe. That was the trailer for Maleficent, and it was the moment when I also told you I loved Disney and that Aurora was the true name of the Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent is one kick arse evil lady, and even though one should never admire the dark side - as I heart it is quite seductive and that it has cookies! - I must admit she is one of the best villains that Disney has created.
I do not know about you, but I was raised with a lot of Disney movies and I always loved fairytales. For me all magical things looked so much out of reach yet fascinating. Animations would keep me locked tight in front of the TV and I would spend hours looking in the fairytale books that my mother and my grandparents would provide. My personal favourite was always Belle - a nerd yet a lovely young woman with a will of its own. But when it came to evil, Maleficent was the best. From her wardrobe to the way she walked and spoke, she was a menace! And that black raven-like crow was as terrifying!
I love the fact that in the movie Maleficent the cast was selected especially to resemble to the original animation that Disney has created. The sets, the costumes, the way they walk and talk... everything was done so it would look as much as possible to the old Disney tale, yet since the very beginning Aurora's voice (which is the narrator and the Sleeping Beauty in one) tells us that the story we heard is not quite right... The movie Maleficent starts with the story of a beautiful small fairy with strong big wings, that falls in love with a poor dirty old boy who was trying to steal a stone. The fairy is Maleficent and the boy will grow up to be a king: King Stefan. They both represent the 2 world colliding: the real world and the land of fairies and all magical creatures. Maleficent befriends Stefan and on her 16th birthday, she receives her "true loves kiss" from Stefan (wickedly enough, when she casts the curse upon baby Aurora, she sets up the doom at the exact time when she had her first kiss: the sunset of the day of her 16th birthday!). But as we all know, the human beings are small and wicked and frail compared to the other creatures upon this earth, so Stefan's will to raise himself from the status of poor boy is more important so he sees less and less of Maleficent. Years fly by and we fast forward to a grown-up Maleficent, in all her beauty - huge horns and impressive large wings that can take her up into the sky, where she would soar above the world, on the wings of the wind alone...
The King of the Human Realm attacks The Land Of Magic, The Land of Fairies, and Maleficent stands guard, as we find out that she was named protector of the land, due to her strenght and knowledge. Along with her tree-friends (which remind me of the Ents from my beloved LOTR) and other magical creatures, she faces the king in battle and wins. On his dying bed, the king promises his daughters hand and the kindgom as a reward to get the fairy that defied him killed. Stefan, his servant, hears that and goes to Maleficent with the thought to kill her. He sets her asleep with a drink and sweet words of love, but when he sees her he cannot go through so he chooses middle ground by just cutting off her wings with iron (yes, iron apparently in this movie, works like Kryptonite upon Superman!). A most disturbing and heartbreaking scene arises when Maleficent wakes up. As she screams and mourns on the moors she screams and mourns not only for the lost wings, her lost freedom, her ability to move and be up there on the top of the world... she screams and mourns for the loss of a friend, for Stefan's betrayal and for her broken heart. All done in the night, with making her fall asleep so she would not feel a thing, all resembles very much with a rape - which is quite distressing, considering this is rated as PG.
Henceforward the movie turns dark as the sad queen arises. As Stefan is crowned king, due to Maleficent's lost wings, she takes over the land of fairies and becomes their dark queen. Sadness creeps in the land and all laughter is gone when she turns by. We see glimpes of good in her. Once seeing a peasant trying to kill a dark crow that tried to get close to her, she saves him and makes him her companion - his name is Diaval and he gets to change his appearence with just a flick of Maleficent's finger ;) and I must admit he is the nicest addition to the story! Maleficent's crow companion is named Diaval (pronounced similarly to 'devil') and in the Disney cartoon version Maleficent's crow companion is named Diablo (a word meaning 'devil'). In Irish lore crows are associated with the winged battle goddesses the Morrigan (they sound similar, as well, to Maleficent). In most all other lore crows are associated with death, the dead, and trickery. Thus, they can be "devilish" birds. Diaval becomes her wings and he brings her news from across the real, news of Stefan being king - news of Stefan getting married - news of Stefan having a baby girl now, named Aurora. As rage boils inside Maleficent she decides she must make her entrance to the palace and show herself to the world, in all her glory, and make Stefan pay for the wings he stole.
As a co-producer, Angelina Jolie insisted that the dialogue in Aurora's christening sequence has to be written word-by-word and based exactly from the original animated film because she feels that it was the main core and setup of the entire film. There's also a blink-and-miss cameo(one second shot) of Jolie's two children, Pax and Zahara in that sequence as well. All the actors and actresses in Maleficent (2014) were partly chosen to be in the movie based on their uncanny resemblances and/or likeness to their respective character counterparts in Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959). Angelina Jolie worked very closely with the costume and make-up designers to develop Maleficent's menacing look. Disney executives objected, hoping to take advantage of Jolie's beauty in marketing the film, but the actress insisted that the character maintain the scarier look of the animated incarnation. Angelina Jolie based her character's speech and accent in homage of the original Sleeping Beauty voice actor Eleanor Audley. Her laughter in the film was also based on the best variation she tried in front of her children and chosen by them. Watching this brought be back to my childhood, though I must admit I would not have rated this movie as a PG and for sure I would not let a child younger than 14 to go to this movie!
Angelina Jolie was definitely interested to be in the movie to begin with. She repeatedly stated it was because 1.) she grew up on Disney movies as a child, especially Sleeping Beauty (1959); she was quite fond of the character Maleficent: "Since I was a little girl, Maleficent was always my favorite," Jolie said. "I was terrified of her, but I was also drawn to her. I wanted to know more about her. She had this elegance and grace, yet she was wonderfully, deliciously cruel," 2.) she wanted to a movie in which her children can go see her in, as well as the fact that her children really also wanted her to be in the movie, 3.) the beauty, warmth, complexity, and strong intelligence of the script, and 4.) she was very impressed with Maleficent's characterization for this film. In fact, Jolie also served as an executive producer on the film.
Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, who portrays Princess Aurora as a young girl, is the daughter of Angelina Jolie (who plays Maleficent in the movie) and Brad Pitt. I really believe Angelina really loved playing in this movie and I believe she truly put her heart into it. She picked Lana Del Rey herself to be the one to sing a version of Sleeping Beauty (1959)'s "Once Upon a Dream" as the main theme for the film. And I must admit that Lana did it beautifully and the song is haunting me ever since I first heard it in the trailer. It is the kind of song that just gets stuck in your head on Repeat mode until it knocks you over. The softness and the soothing tone makes you fall in love with it at the first sight!
Recently I have been very much in love with old fairytales with a twist, and if you ever watched the series "Once Upon A Time" you must know what I speak of. I love that recently Disney has quite changed their way of seeing fairytales and they started creating character that either save themselves - like Merida, Mulan and Rapunzel - or save the one they love - like Elsa/Anna and Maleficent/Aurora. It is refreshing to see female characters depicted as being both fragile and strong, as Anna sacrifices herself for Elsa (in Frozen) so does Maleficent present Aurora with a true loves kiss. The concept of true love was always shown as an erotic thing yet noble, between a boy and a girl / lad and lass, yet now we can see that true love can be also in the form most pure: sisterly love (between Elsa and Anna) and love for the one next to you, love for the one you saw grow, love for the one that you would think you would hate with all your might, the love for the Beastie (Aurora).
Love sometimes come to you by surprise and true love does not necessary have to be of a romantic kind. There are so many types of love, and I believe the Greeks explained it better. They had 5 different words for expressing love: from the erotic kind, to the paternal/fraternal kind to the love of mankind. Love has so many forms, and I am glad Disney saw fit to change the ending when Aurora wakes up due to the princes kiss... When Philippe kisses Aurora nothing happens, yet when Maleficent comes to her "not to beg forgiveness as what she has done could not ever be forgiven" and kisses her on the brow, Aurora wakes up :) Aurora gets healed by true loves kiss from her fairy godmother.
Critics may say that they messed up with the basic fairytale and that there is too much CGI but I believe that overall the movie is very attractive and pleasing to watch. Angelina Jolie does a remarcable job being Maleficent and the way she walks and talks and laughs makes me remember of the old animation so very much. I prefer to think though of Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty as 2 different fairytales or of 2 parallel universes where things could have been sweeter than in the original (where Maleficent is pure evil and she loves to be like that, even though we do not know her reasons...). Here I know that Maleficent has a good heart and even if evil (in this parallel universe, that would be Stefan) tries to spoil her and bring her to the dark side, she remains positive. Her heart was broken in 2 by Stefan but weirdly enough, his daughter manages to fix it back. You never choose whom you will love, the heart does not get to choose and even if the head will try to pull you away, you will always end up wanting that love. Aurora brings that love in Maleficents life and makes her remember maybe even of herself, when she was small and in love with nature and the world and its magic. 
***
Tell you the truth, I believe also that Angelina raises the bar in this movie, when it comes to Disney villains :)  Her smile, her eyes, her facial expressions and her cheeckbones make her perfect for this role. I admire that she wanted to do all the stunts herself and that she got so involved in this movie/in this project. Without her, I must admit that this movie may have been a flop, but as it is I very much like it and recommend it ;) I watched this movie in 3D but it is not a must ;) it could have been fine in 2D as well, but for the fighting scenes it was beneficial. And even though some may say that there was too much CGI, which is quite true, I believe it blended in nicely and it made me think a bit of Alice in Wonderland (the one with Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska). I still wonder upon some scenes, like the one where she gets trapped in the palace... She is all magic, and if she can change Diaval from a crow to a man to a hedgehog dragon with the snap of her finger, how come she cannot get herself free?! Oh, truly magic must be an interesting subject to have such gaps ;))) Kidding aside, go and have a look and tell me what you think, or if you already saw it, tell me what YOU thought of it :) Was it a "Must See", a "No Way" or a "Maybe" :)

Yours truly,
A LadyBug In Love With Fairytales