Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Disney’s new summer blockbuster – Maleficent has managed to confront a lot of stereotypes, the biggest of them all is that every story has two sides. As a kid, we would go to sleep listening about Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella and Snow White and Aerial. But we were too young, at a very impressionable age and we never thought that there could be another version to any of these stories.
Maleficent is a whole new take of the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty; the film presents a back story and tells it from the point of view of the wicked witch – Maleficent. Maleficent! What a word! What a completely beautifully ambiguous word! There are so many possibilities as to what it could mean – malevolent, benevolent, magnificent, malicious, beneficent… Or maybe the word is an amalgamation of all of that. Won’t that be something?! Maleficent is a complex character and to have written her off just as the evil witch is not justifiable. It is heartening to see Disney taking up such projects, where the no-man’s land of evil and good is being explored. I personally love the concept of anti-hero; this shows to the world that all protagonists need not be like Hercules – brave, powerful, strong almost like demi-Gods. We should instead have more of Macbeths and Holden Caulfields because that is who most of us are.
Angelina Jolie plays the eponymous Maleficent; she was brilliant as brilliance could be. I am a self-confessed fan of Angelina Jolie, since I was 12 I think but even the hardcore Jolie lover in me was not quite convinced of the suitability of the choice. But her performance shattered whatever iota of doubt or skepticism I was harbouring. She got her diction absolutely correct, with a hint of British accent, and variations in her pitch during her dialogue delivery. Usually I don’t peg Jolie as a comic actress, in fact she doesn’t herself either. But it was quite exhilarating to see her able to adhere to the comic timings when it was demanded of her. As we all know, with comedy, timing is utterly essential. With her pointed and distinguished cheekbones, ruby-red lips, horns and wings and piercing eyes, Jolie was almost the perfect epitome of the classic Disney villain that we have all heard about, growing up.
Elle Fanning plays Princess Aurora and like all her previous roles, especially in We Bought a Zoo, she is her usual spritely, joyous self. But then again the script demanded she play that because Aurora “is never supposed to be blue.” Out of the three pixies charged with protecting Aurora, Imelda Staunton as Knotgrass stole the show; Juno Temple’s Thistlewit and Leslie Manville’s Flittle were just vanilla supporting characters. However Sam Riley’s performance as Diaval is commendable. Diaval is both indebted to Maleficent yet has the courage to stand up to her when he thinks that she is strewing down the path of error.
The movie had been entirely shot in front of a green screen, but Jolie is a pro, having previously worked on two Lara Croft movies; she is no stranger to action either. The plot may not have been the best, but I admire the intention because I believe it to be a message film. It was rich in acting, rich in cinematography and definitely rich in effort.