Over the course of this week I was fortunate enough to go see the movie 'Maleficent' starring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning.
First, let me state what a pleasure it is simply to write the previous line wherein the two main characters of a big-budget movie are played by females. I don't think it can be stressed enough how marvelous and unusual this is in and of itself. The majority of big-budget movies are centred around a man and his demons/exploits/travels/problems with women all too often playing a small supporting role as his mother/girlfriend/wife/co-worker who seems to exist to either complicate matters or provide some light-hearted relief from the action and tension. Then, to top that the movie earned top spot in revenue on its' opening weekend, hauling in an impressive 69 million dollars from U.S. audiences and over 100 million oversees as reported here.
In my humble opinion, the movie was a delight from start to finish. I loved the revisionist storyline that was altered to show Maleficent as a complex character and not a one-dimensional villainous trope as can usually be found in fairytales. Make no mistake, this is still very much a fairy tale, but oh, what a fairy tale it is! It is set in the land of fairies called the moors and Maleficent is the uncrowned leader of this realm in her youth, blissfully flying hither and thither, making the blossoms bloom and healing broken branches with her touch, greeting all the other queer folk that live here with grace and kindness. All seems idyllic even when she first meets a human boy named Stephan. They begin a friendship that shows much promise, especially when Stephan throws away his ring after learning that metal burns fairies. Unfortunately, Stephan is soon bewitched by the human king's promise of power for he who would kill the Fairy leader. Stephan then uses his close relationship with Maleficent to betray her by giving her a drug-laden drink and then searing off her wings while she lies unconscious. Much has been made of this scene and it's careful and subtle allusion to rape. Indeed, Angelina herself has said this about that scene:
Jolie's acting in this scene is impressive, as is her personal commitment to help end sexual violence in conflict zones. Earlier this month she delivered an opening speech on the subject at an international summit.
The visuals in Maleficent are stunning as is the acting by the main leads. Elle Fanning is a teenage dream in her role, easily expressing her characters' naivety and awe.
I don't wish to include too many spoilers, but it is safe to say this story has a truly unique and satisfying feminist ending.
I would highly recommend this movie for all ages, especially girls under 15.