This post is a day late, but whatever.
So, this past weekend, I finally got around to seeing Maleficent. I’m way behind the rest of the universe, so it’s a bit late for a review (though I would like to say that I found it highly enjoyable, even if it ignores the fact that the word “maleficent” literally means “harmful or malicious” or one that is proficient at malefaction, but whatever; it’s not like I’ve spent a lot of time obsessing about that…or something); however, I did get to thinking about something that is a bit unsettling.
|Listen well, all of you!|
If you haven’t seen the movie, then run away because BEYOND THERE BE SPOILERS!
Ok, so here’s the thing: The story of Maleficent is touted as the “truth” to the story, long hidden by the untrue story (aka the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty). Aurora is the narrator, having had the gaps in the story filled in my Maleficent herself (it is implied). Now, Aurora is kind of a flake, so I don’t know if I trust her version of the story as the ABSOLUTE truth. You know she added in some cuteness and sparkle because she couldn’t resist because she’s Aurora. But anyway, the question that arises is this: who is telling the story of Sleeping Beauty? I know it’s presented as a storybook, read by some sort of nameless narrator, but in the world of the fairy tale, someone had to change the story, prompting Old Aurora to then set the record straight with the “truth.”
So who told the story seen in Disney’s animated version?
One might think it was Stefan since he’s the villain in Maleficent and is portrayed as a kindly, benevolent fellow in Sleeping Beauty.But he’s all dead and stuff by the movie’s end, so there’s no chance that it’s him.
|So, here’s the thing…|
I’m pretty sure it’s Phillip.
Hear me out.
Phillip has always annoyed me. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because he’s the standard Prince Charming character, all generic and boring and yawn-inducing. Prince awakens Snow White and they get married. Yawn. Dances with Cinderella once and then they fall in love. Yawn. He kisses Aurora and falls in love immediately. Yawn.
The Disney animated version does add a hefty dose of swashbuckling, humor, dragon-slaying, and whatnot, which I guess is fun, but still, the whole relationship between him and Aurora is rooted firmly in yawnsville. He and Aurora barely talk. They sing one song. And boom. They’re in love. Even Once Upon a Time has a hard time making Phillip interesting. They have to send him into a deep magical slumber in one episode because I’m sure the writers were annoyed at having to write for such a bland character.
|Get it together, man!|
Maleficentportrays Phillip in a highly satisfying way: as a dumb kid who has no clue what he’s doing and who is dragged into the castle via Maleficent and dropped unceremoniously at Aurora’s sleeping feet and told to kiss her. It’s glorious. The kiss doesn’t work and he is discarded from the plot, showing up at the end as a happy bystander.
|He looks so…hopeful… Poor sod.|
But how happy is he really?
He didn’t get the girl. He didn’t get fame. He’s just a kid who’s dumb and lost and confused and is now a friend of the faeries. I mean, knowing him, he probably had all sorts of crazy awesome plans. Now he’s just some sort of bystander nobody. And he’s been majorly friend-zoned. I know it’s implied that maybe Aurora and Philip could one day get together, seeing as how they’re the only decent humans left, but you know Aurora is more into frolicking in the grass than doing anything with Phillip.
|Dude, she’s just not that into you.|
So, here’s what I think happened.
Incensed, Philip grows up resenting his part in the story and seeks to retell it, giving himself a larger role. Also, stemming from his resentment towards Aurora and Maleficent (the first who ignored him, the second who used him), he seeks to portray ALL the male characters in the story as positive, caricaturing Maleficent as a twisted mistress of all evil and reducing Aurora to a largely silent character (she only has 18 lines of dialogue).
So, you know that kindly elderly man who narrates Sleeping Beauty? The one reads the prologue and sounds all nice and stuff? That’s Phillip, having “coped” with his longing resentment by slipping into a deep denial and turning his past (and his life) into a fairy tale in which evil/clueless/silent women almost ruined his chance to be a hero.
|Can you feel the resentment? Can you feel it?!|
And Old Aurora couldn’t stand it anymore and told her version of the story, destroying Old Phillip’s artificial world and forcing him to cope with his own inadequacies. That’s how the story ends. Aurora wins at life and Maleficent is right there to give her a high five.
|Who’s awesome? This girl!|
You know I’m right. *cue Maleficent’s cackling, shrieking laughter*
It’s a beautiful story.
Addendum: I would like to add, though, that I quite liked Maleficent as the twisted mistress of all evil. Unlike the Evil Queen and Lady Tremaine (Cinderella’s stepmother), she’s “sassy evil.” The other two are cruel and vicious and seem to be reacting against the outside world (The Evil Queen is obsessed with her appearance and Lady Tremaine seems to have a MAJOR grudge against the entire world because she’s not as rich as she’d like to be). Maleficent is just evil. Even when she says that she’s mad at not receiving an invitation to Aurora’s christening, you know she’s just playing with Stefan, coming up with an excuse to wreak havoc on the world. I just love her. I also love the “new” version that Maleficentgave us, but still…
|She made evil look awesome.|
Till next week, y’all!