This week for our Villains of Note series, we stop to appreciate the dastardly dragon lady of the 1959 animated film, Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent. In the original fairy tale, whether you believe it to be Charles Perrault’s, “La Belle au bois dormant” (which the Disney version is based on), the Grimm brothers’ “Briar Rose”, or the myriad of other folklore myths the tale resembles, Maleficent exists to terrify readers and warn of ill-gotten revenge. This forgotten fairy is brought to life in Disney’s classic and given new vitality in the 2014 upcoming production of Maleficent.
The Mistress of All Evil, The Dark/13th/Aged Fairy
Horns, purple and black cape, never forgets or forgives–especially when beautiful young girls are involved.
In the Disney version, Maleficent is shunned by the King and Queen, parents of princess Aurora, at the occasion of the princess’ christening. Being the petty and vengeful fairy that she is, Maleficent curses the baby, proclaiming the child will prick her finger on a spinning wheel on her 16th birthday and die. Maleficent spends the next 16 years searching for the princess, who is sent to live with the good fairies in the forest, away from any magic or sorcery that might allow the child to fall under the dark fairy’s spell. Maleficent doesn’t give up easily, and even after she’s gotten the girl to fall into a deep sleep and all hope seems lost, the Mistress of Evil isn’t satisfied. She takes the princess’ betrothed, a handsome Prince Phillip, and locks him in her dungeon, which was her first mistake, because the good guy always escapes. He does, and she proceeds to use some seriously dark magic to turn into a fire breathing dragon, destroy the fields and the castle, until finally put out of her misery by the Prince’s sword right in her dragon belly.
Ma scène préférée:
Just when we think we know what Maleficent is capable of, she goes and morphs into a dragon. Without any hint of her hidden power, Maleficent is able to change her form, seemingly at will, in order to fight against Prince Phillip. This scene terrified me as a child. Just knowing that someone/thing I thought had manifest all the evil characteristics possible then could turn into something more terrible and almost indestructible, well, this scene seriously shifted my world view.
La Magie Noire ou Folle de Rage?
Maleficent does not mince words. She gets her dark magic straight from Hell, and has no problem murdering Briar Rose simply because the queen of mean was not invited to the baptism. Like many of the early Disney female villains, Maleficent is pure evil, manifest as a jealous, bitter, middle age woman warring with the innocent beauty of youth. It is folklore symbolism at it’s most terrifying; reminding the old that the young will prevail, while prompting any woman past her supple teens to accept that her time is over and that youth is always more desirable.
For your listening and viewing pleasure, here is 2014 Maleficent film trailer, with Lana Del Rey performing “Once Upon a Dream,” a re-imagining of the classic tune found in the 1959 Disney version.
The Collectiva Diva
p.s. merci pour les traductions françaises, mon boo.
Disclaimer: All images and film clips are the property of Disney.