It’s not everyday you see a movie that replaces a story for you.
The story, of course, is the (archetypal?) story of Sleeping Beauty, in which Maleficent is the complete evil character. The classic story says little about why Maleficent is evil. Just that she is. I think it suggests that she’s jealous, or just doesn’t like anything good. The oldest fiction story in English, Beowulf, treats Beowulf and his mother similarly.
In this movie, Maleficent is the most powerful of fairies, a joyful defender of Faery who falls in love with a young prince of the nearby human kingdom. The young prince, though, grows up to lust for power and being king, so he drugs her and cuts off her wings. He intended to kill her, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it, so he leaves her. He takes the wings home and becomes king.
Maleficent wakes without her wings – which were her dream and joy and hope. She doesn’t react well to losing them (side effects: like draining the color from the land of Fairy, for example). So when the opportunity comes to curse the daughter of the prince-now-king who betrayed her, she takes it.
Over the years waiting for the curse, Sleeping Beauty lives hidden in the forest near Faery. She goes in and out of Faery, where Maleficent regular refers to her as a little beast. A young prince who meets Sleeping Beauty in the forest is smitten with her.
Then the curse strikes. And when the young prince’s kiss of “true love” fails … we find out what true love really is.
Now I don’t think of the story of Sleeping Beauty without the real story, Maleficent, replacing it. That’s the real power of story: to take the old, transform and change it into something new. Bravo!
Now go transform something old into something new!