My favorite Disney villain has always been Maleficent, from Sleeping Beauty. Never has there been a character in Disney’s canon as elegant, icy, and dire as she. A singularly gorgeous woman (admit it; her green skin and horns are fabulous), she was never motivated by vanity, nor was she warring against Princess Aurora because she was a young, graceful beauty.
Maleficent, like her dastardly counterparts, is not at all a
caricature. She’s a real person, made of flesh and bones, with an agenda
and a cruel smile. Forget the fact that she’s a villainess; as a
character, she’s one of the most brilliantly realized, regardless of the
film medium she appears in.
I can understand why a live action film told from her point of view
would be tantalizing for filmmakers. I can even understand why they
would choose Angelina Jolie to portray her in this film version. But I
have my reservations about this film and casting choice nonetheless.
Angelina does have a commanding presence onscreen, but does she have the voice? Part of Maleficent’s charms lie in Eleanor Audley’s
sublime vocals. Her inflections were both calculating and full of
menace. I just can’t imagine her capturing the essence of Maleficent,
powerful voice and all, who is evil and cruel, but also sardonic.
What makes this Maleficent film all the more puzzling is the fact that
it’s being produced by Disney. Why? Are two versions of the same villain
really necessary, when the animated one is already perfect? I don’t
want two Maleficents, and I certainly don’t want Angelina Jolie to be one of them. (Cate Blanchett is a better choice, in my opinion). But it doesn’t matter who’s playing her, because if it isn’t Eleanor Audley, it doesn’t matter.
Elle Fanning is in talks to play Aurora, and I suppose they can take
the film in a much different direction, one in which the enchanting
princess is not relegated to the secondary character role. In the 1959
animated masterpiece, Maleficent was not Aurora’s nemesis, but the
nemesis of the three good fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather.
The three of them are the main characters, and their homely, pudgy
appearances are a direct contrast to cool and slender Maleficent. And
people say Disney sticks to a static formula when it comes to their
protagonists, but that’ll be another discussion for another day.
As far as villains go, Maleficent is quite unique. She demands respect.
They didn’t invite her to a baby’s christening, so the baby had to be
cursed. Tough luck. And she was determined to see her prophesy
fulfilled, going so far as to transform into a fire breathing dragon!
“Now shall you deal with me oh prince, and all the powers of Hell!”
You think Disney and Angelina would know who they’re dealing with.
What are your thoughts on this adaptation?