Thursday, June 26, 2014
Culture Nurture: Maleficient: Fairy Tale Hollywood Style By: James U. Sy Jr.
Prolific moviegoers would have noted several ongoing trends in the film industry nowadays. For one, superheroes are the in thing, with Marvel outdoing DC in the silver screen with the release of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Elektra, and yes, The Avengers. The most familiar DC franchise is Batman with several films already made under its belt. But aside from that there’s only Superman and Green Lantern (Flash is yet to be released and there’s a rumor of a Justice League movie). Another noticeable trend is the reemergence of several fairy tales in Hollywood, but with some new and refreshing twists. At least two new versions were made for Snow White and then there was Jack the Giant Slayer (of Jack and the Beanstalk fame), Hansel and Gretel, and Rapunzel, in the cartoon format Tangled. Other fairy tales in the cartoon format were Frozen and the three installments of Shrek. Many of these movies had some really good action packed sequences, most especially Hansel and Gretel. The latest of these fairy tales to hit the screen was Maleficient, which starred Angelina Jolie in the lead role. Interestingly, the title was not “Sleeping Beauty” but viewers would soon understand why it was not so. What differentiates Maleficient from the other previous fairy tale movies is that the point of view taken was that of the villain, not of the innocent victim princess. This adds an air of freshness to the presentation because it’s a route outside of the box. The movie depicted Maleficient, the villain in the movie, not as the kind of evil that previous fairy tales would have us see. Instead, Maleficient was given a human element (although she’s a fairy), a personality that has both a bad and good side, which tends to break our stereotype of a purely evil or a purely good person. Maleficient was both villain and hero, an anti-villain if you will. The start of the movie depicted Maleficient as a joyful and righteous fairy, appreciating the beauty in her environment and taking the responsibility of protecting all that’s within her kingdom. The attack on her people by the king represented man’s inherent greed, which often leads to conflict. Maleficient succeeded in defending their home but then she was betrayed by her childhood sweetheart and she lost her wings. Her consequent depression and transformation is a manifestation of the great sorrow caused by man’s lust for power and wealth. From a wronged person’s perspective, taking revenge is but a natural progression, something that has not been elaborately depicted in other retelling or rendering of the story of Sleeping Beauty. The movie Maleficient put this in proper perspective. Jolie looked stunning as an evil fairy with her make up and the accompanying light effects. But as fate would have it, love is the antidote to hate. Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) grew to be a fine and likeable young lady. Maleficient would often see her doing things that she used to do also when she was young, reminding her of old self. Maleficient developed a liking for Aurora though she tried to suppress and hide it. Jolie convincingly acted this out on screen. Maleficient soon started her retransformation to her old self. An unexpected twist was when Aurora did not wake up from the kiss of the prince. Then the fairy tale bubble bursts. Reality check: How can the prince really love a girl whom he just met once? Viewers are left thinking, “Now what?” Maleficient, who regretted putting a spell on Aurora, tried to revoke the curse but wasn’t able to because of the condition she had placed on the curse. At this point, Maleficient did not realize it yet but her actions bespeak of her love for Aurora. Her asking forgiveness and kissing Aurora in the forehead is symbolic of man’s real life actions that would soon lead him to regret them. It was this part wherein Maleficient’s humanity was best expressed by the film’s director. Love, which is very real, is the real fairy tale after all. Taken from a philosophical point of view, the movie Maleficient is a good medium of teaching values to children, who would have been a significant part of the total viewers of the movie. It was a story about friendship, loyalty, and betrayal, love and hate, good and evil, and how people transform because of their environment and how they are affected by the actions of others. Overall, it was a totally human depiction of a fairy tale. Two thumbs up. For those who have not yet seen it, you better do.