Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Sleeping Beauty Bowl: Villainous

To make up for my favorite annual Sabbath-breaking activity, Casey and I have set ourselves in front of a different TV to enjoy the crowd’s favorite Disney Villain: Maleficent.


Now, it all starts with the curse on Aurora’s introduction to the court (and her fiance, which is weirdness to be discussed at a later date). Maleficent just pops in to say hi, quite uninvited and “unwanted” as Merryweather so frankly puts it. She places a curse on the child as punishment for the reaction to her arrival, which makes me wonder if the spawn of Satan could have given a nice gift if they had just been a little more welcoming. It is apparent that Maleficent and this particular kingdom have history of some sort, but we have no idea what that is.

Sound familiar?

The curse is oddly specific, and the kingdom (particularly the fairies) seems to dramatically overreact to protect her. They immediately burn every last spinning wheel in the entire kingdom (what did they do for textiles in those 16 years?) and the fairies demagick themselves in order to raise Aurora (aka Briar Rose) away from the villainous Maleficent.

Now, if the curse doesn’t take place until the eve of her sixteenth birthday, why did they take her away for all the years leading up to it and bring her back on the very night the curse is to be carried out? *facepalm*

Sixteen years later, Maleficent finally figures out that her warthog demons were too stupid to figure out the girl was in the process of growing up and finally sends her “pet” raven to find a blonde sixteen year old who harmonizes with birds. She of course complains about her guardians treating her like a child (what teenager doesn’t?) and immediately meets a boy she thinks she’s not allowed to love (little did she know...) and invites him over. Typical.

"We should totally hang out."

So the raven finds the hideout only to discover she’ll be back at the castle that very evening (Maleficent didn’t know? The whole kingdom did...) but sets a trap anyway for the unwitting prince.

It seem as though the Queen has died sometime between the birth and sixteenth birthday of Aurora, because she isn’t even brought up or welcomed to the celebration. (You only see her sitting on the throne for about 3 seconds after Aurora pricks her finger.) The Kings and a very drunken bard go on about the necessity of an immediate marriage until they start a sword fight with fish (which was one of my favorite parts as a kid) and Prince Phillip ruins his father’s life for the day (“Why, this is the 14th century!”)

This is an intervention.

Here’s where the fairies get really stupid... Not only have they brought her back to the castle, but they leave her alone at her most depressed, and Maleficent strikes. (“Oh why did we leave her alone?!”) Now here’s where it starts to get Christian and metaphorical - the very special princess, upon whom all the hopes and dreams of the kingdom apparently lie, is taken by the evil force and the three fairies who gave her gifts at birth find her only moments too late, and she sleeps as per the counter-curse Merryweather cast after the original curse.

Nope. Not creepy at all.

The fairies, now desperate to hide the truth that was destined to be, cast a sleeping spell on the entire kingdom. There is now an entirely different plan (which they lucked into) to find Prince Phillip, who has been captured and taken away by evil itself up to the Forbidden Mountain.

The guards at the Forbidden Mountain pay about as much attention to incoming traffic as the guards at any Legend of Zelda castle, and the fairies get in fairly easily to find a demonic dance at Maleficent’s feet as well as the dungeon in which Phillip is being kept.

Welp, I don't see anybody. No use in checking the bushes.

The Spawn of Satan teases him with images of Aurora passed out in her father’s castle and promises he can break the spell in a hundred years (when he’ll be what, 120 years old?). The villainous one goes to take a nap and the fairies take their chance to free him, but the raven, ever watchful and super creepy, alerts the horde. Somehow, she sleeps through the first few minutes of the racket before taking action. She surrounds the castle with thorns (get it? Christian metaphor continues) but he hacks through them, so she freaks out, summons the powers of hell, and turns into a dragon, because what else is she gonna do?

Phillip defeats her with the Sword of Truth bestowed on him by the fairies and finds the princess almost immediately. For the most evil villain, Maleficent went down pretty fast. Just sayin’.

Maybe he's just a really good knife thrower.

Aurora from this point joins her mother the Queen in never saying anything ever. Hugs and kisses are exchanged and they announce their intended marriage through dancing into the night (and clouds) and no one seems to care that her dress changes colors clear until the credits run (I wonder how that went with the wedding dress?).

"How'd they get the fabric to look like it's always changing colors?"

Honestly, it’s a very simple narrative and story line. Incredibly straitforward, which is probably why it's my favorite Disney Princess movie. I can understand why many choose Maleficent as the most evil villain, but exactly how is what she did much worse than what Ursula or other Disney usurpers did? If you ask me, she was just another outcast attacking unsuspecting sixteen year old girls in love. Only with more hell powers. Discuss.


  1. You gotta empathize with these villains a bit. I mean, who hasn't wanted to deprive teenagers of love?

    1. Valid point, Brett. Maybe we should just analyze all movies from the standpoint of the villain and talk about how the teens really deserve it.

  2. First, her poise. She is completely comfortable in her evil. No whining there, no trying to excuse herself by rationalization. Even angry, she never loses her grace. And how can you not give her bonus points for the line, "Oh, they're hopeless. A disgrace to the forces of evil!"

    Mostly, though, it's not WHAT she did, it's WHY. She created an excuse to be wronged. There is no sign that she has any goal other than to cause pain to others. She's not winning a kingdom, she's not avenging some slight, she's just trying to cause mayhem. And she's diabolical. The other Disney villains just try to destroy their opponents. Maleficent deliberately keeps the prince, who isn't even really a part of her original plan, alive so she can maximize his pain. It's the closest to torture Disney dares to get.

    She didn't really cause Aurora any heartache or inconvenience. She's not attacking the sixteen year old girl. She's only doing what she did because it caused stress and pain for as many people as possible. I suspect that is why the fairies put the whole castle to sleep, to thwart Maleficent as much as they could.

    Maybe she's bored. That would make a lot of sense.

    1. Good points, particularly on the mayhem she causes, Maleficent is definitely a chaotic portrayal of Satan, the fairies even point out towards the beginning of the film that she only knows evil, she would never think to look for goodness in the world. I also love your point about doing everything with grace. She's got that down. That's probably why she's my favorite villain, regardless of levels of evil. Graceful to a fault. Perfect example is when she's taunting Phillip in the dungeon and she only laughs and glides out after he freaks out and tries to break free from his chains.

      All in all, we could just go with boredom though. If her minions are half as bad as they seem, she just needs to get out and wreak havoc every now and again.

  3. I think it's the composure: her stature, her gait, her voice--it all combines to communicate an unflinching authority. Plus, her wardrobe is fantastic. And everyone always makes a big deal about her turning into a dragon; but let's not forget that before that she turned into a firework pinwheel. She's just plain bad ass in a cool, calculating, and collective way that only has one moment of unhinging when Philip is cutting through the thorns. I really think it's the confidence that only seems challenged in that very brief moment. That power and assurance in herself and her dominion is both intimidating and captivating.