With Disney's new live-action Cinderella right around the corner, I found myself returning to [Maleficent](movie:39352) . When I first saw the movie, I was angry.
Maleficent was my favorite Disney villain ever. Not because she had a good song, or she was funny, or she was a heroic villain. I loved her because she was evil. Nothing more than that. She will always be my favorite and the worst of all the Disney villain. And then Maleficent director Robert Stromberg came in and made her look weak, childish, naive, and worst of all, nice.
That's just not something you do to her. But then I got thinking. I watched the film this weekend in hopes that I cold enjoy it the second time around. I started thinking and something hit me.
What if, in this incarnation, Maleficent is even more evil than she was before?
Before you jump to conclusions and put nasty comments about my wide eyed optimism, let me explain.
You see, in Maleficent, we're supposed to believe that it's a retelling of the classic Seeping Beauty from the point of view of the villain. And it seems that way. It really does. We really think that we're learning a lot about who Maleficent really is. But then we get to the end of the movie and see that Aurora is the one who told the story the whole time.
At first, I ignored this. It was understandable as to why she told the story. After all, it is her story. Then I got to thinking. For Maleficent's early life, Aurora wasn't even born yet. And even after, Aurora was too young to remember most of what happened. For a good, possibly thirty year gap, Aurora couldn't actually say much of what had happened for sure.
So how could she tell the full story? How could she possibly know everything for sure?
She doesn't. So where do the gaps get filled in?
You guessed it. Diaval and Maleficent tell Aurora what happened. Aurora's real parents, Stefan and Leila, have both passed. There are few people left alive who know the whole truth of what happened with Maleficent. Flittle, Knotgrass, and Thistlewit were there for when she was raised, but hadn't even noticed Maleficent's watchful gaze of the child. They couldn't tell her the whole story.
The only things that Aurora knows for sure, from her own memories and reliable sources, are that Maleficent cast a curse on her. Maleficent watched after her from the day she was born. Flittle, Knotgrass and Thistlewit kept the truth from her about who she really was. She fell asleep. And woke up to Maleficent saving her.
That's not much. Who would you turn to in this situation to fill the gaps?
So now we understand that Aurora told the story, but she herself doesn't know everything, and it was Maleficent who told her everything else.
How does this make Maleficent evil?
I see your point. That doesn't prove anything. On to my next point.
Who's to say Maleficent didn't lie about her past? She'd of course want to bathe herself in good lighting, wouldn't you? She saved Aurora, after all. She'd want Aurora to only know the good things about her.
Now, here's my theory. Maleficent lied about everything.
Okay, maybe not everything. But she did lie about one very important event. One thing that we as the audience wouldn't know.
She laid the curse on Aurora, not to make sure she stayed asleep, but to make sure she woke up. The sleeping curse. The one that could only be broken by true love's kiss. Now, Maleficent (in the story we're told) says to Diaval that she made that curse because there's no such thing as "true love's kiss."
Now, that seems evil enough. But I think there's more to it. I think she secretly believed, in her heart of hearts, that it was real. That it was just Stefan who was incapable of true love. So she laid the curse on Aurora to wake her up.
If you don't remember the scene, here it is:
As she says, Aurora will grow in beauty and grace and be loved by all those she meets. If she really wanted Aurora to never wake up, she wouldn't risk going near her. She would love Aurora and not be able to allow her to go asleep. But that isn't what she wants. She wants Aurora to wake up.
She inserts herself in Aurora's life, as the mother that the Pixies never could be. She watches after her in a protective, motherly way. And when Aurora is old enough, she shows Aurora her home.
That's very loving. And Maleficent knew this would happen. Because after her heartbreak, she learned how to achieve true love. To do so, both parties need to love the other. That was her aim. To create true love between her and Aurora, in a mother-daughter relationship.
Making sense now?
Maleficent knew how to work the system and how to work people. She could get Aurora to love her. And after she herself felt love, it couldn't be too difficult. She did have sixteen years to get her plan ready.
So the fateful day finally comes. She loves Aurora. Aurora loves her back. That's why Aurora was so hurt when she learned of Maleficent's true nature. That was the final piece Maleficent needed. Once she saw that, she knew for sure that her plan would work. But she didn't want Aurora to leave. If she left, if she went to her father's home, things would become much more difficult for Maleficent.
You see, if Aurora had stayed in the Moors, then maybe Maleficent could've awoken her there and not had to deal with almost being killed by Stefan's men.
But it was too late for that. Aurora had run away. Now Maleficent has to go finish her plan. She waltzes into the castle and saves Aurora. The scene where only she, Diaval and Aurora are in the room together, Aurora is still unconscious. She doesn't actually tell Diaval the line about true love's kiss. She saves Aurora. She gets her wings back and ends Stefan's life. A new heir to throne rises, both in the moors and in the kingdom.
But wait, why does Maleficent lie about all of that? The goal was to hurt Stefan, right?
Maleficent lies because she loves Aurora. She couldn't stand hurting her again. There's only one other person who knows all that happened. And Diaval wouldn't dare hurt Aurora either. The truth remains between the two of them. And now us.