True Love and Fairy Tales: Maleficent

Tonight, I finally watched Maleficent for the first time and it was absolutely as wonderful as I hoped it would be. It was actually above and beyond what I hoped it would be. I’ve always been obsessed with fairytales and true love and a part of me has always had a soft spot for the villain. The soft spot has only grown larger as I have watched the ABC show, Once Upon a Time. The villain is never as dark as (s)he appears to be! More times than not, the villain starts out as the hopeful young child who is full of light and life and is even more pure and innocent than the prince and princess of the story. Nonetheless, something terrible often happens to the poor child that sets in motion the decisions that lead to the character becoming the villain. Maleficent’s story is no different than the story of any other villain—she was sweet and kind and loving until something happened to her that set in motion the tragedy that is becoming a villain.

Maleficent starts out as a story of a beautiful young fairy that is joyous and energetic. The gleam of innocence and hope are beautifully evident in her bright young eyes. She flies around the skies with her big wings with the speed and grace of the elegant fairy that she is. Soon, she meets a young boy named Stefan who quickly becomes her best friend. After a while, their best friendship turns into something more and Stefan gives Maleficent “true love’s kiss” on her sixteenth birthday. As time passes, Maleficent discovers that Stefan lied about true love’s kiss. His true love turns out to be greed and power.

Years later, when Stefan learns that the king of his land will pass on his legacy on to anyone who can destroy Maleficent—the cause of his injuries—he tricks Maleficent into believing he still cares about her only to clip her wings and take them to the king as faux proof that he killed Maleficent. When Maleficent awakens from the sleep potion Stefan put her under, she cries out in agonizing pain from having her wings cut from her back.

A few scenes later, she saves a raven from being killed by turning him into a man. He vows to be her slave for the rest of his life, so she sends him as a raven into the king’s land to discover why Stefan stole her wings. When the raven, Diaval, returns with the news that Stefan stole Maleficent’s wings so that he can become king, Maleficent becomes the treacherous ruler of the Moors, which had never had a ruler before. In vengeance, Maleficent continues to send Diaval on trips to the kingdom to keep on eye and ear on Stefan. Years later, Diaval informs Maleficent that Stefan’s wife, the queen, has given birth to a baby girl. This is where the story becomes familiar: Maleficent shows up to the celebration for baby Aurora and curses her. Because of the curse, Stefan sends Aurora off to a secret place to live with the three kind fairies who become her guardians for the next sixteen years to prevent Aurora from pricking her finger. Over the next sixteen years, Maleficent keeps an eye on Aurora herself, keeping her from danger and consequently growing quite fond of her. When Aurora is fifteen, she discovers Maleficent and Diaval. Maleficent, Diaval, and Aurora grow to be very close friends and the day before her sixteenth birthday, Aurora decides to tell her aunts, the fairies, that she wants to move to the Moors.

While on her way to tell her aunts the news, Aurora meets a handsome young prince named, Phillip. At this point, Maleficent has become so fond of Aurora that she does not want Aurora to fall victim to the curse that was planned to take action on Aurora’s sixteenth birthday. Diaval believes that Aurora and Phillip have fallen in love and that he is the key to breaking Maleficent’s curse. Maleficent does not believe in true love though, after Stefan swore his kiss was of true love and hurt her anyway.

While Aurora informs the fairies that she wants to move to the Moors, they inform her of the evil fairy, Maleficent, who cursed her when she was baby. Aurora runs to Maleficent, whom she has thought to be her fairy mother up this point, and asks her if she knows of the curse. Maleficent reluctantly admits that she is Maleficent and it is her curse. With betrayal written over her face, Aurora runs away from Maleficent, who spends that night trying to reverse the curse, even though she knows the only way to break it is through true love’s kiss.

After presenting herself to her father at the palace, Aurora is locked up in her room in an attempt to keep her from pricking her finger. She somehow manages to find all of the spinning wheels destroyed in a dungeon and pricks her finger. Far away, Maleficent feels that her power has been instilled into Aurora’s curse. As she had already been doing, Maleficent continues to lead Prince Phillip to Aurora in hopes that she is wrong about true love’s kiss. She leads him into the palace and takes him to Aurora’s room, where the fairies find him and beg him to kiss Aurora. After he does, she does not wake up, and all involved are devastated. Overcome by grief, Maleficent comes out of her hiding place after the fairies and Phillip leave the room. She apologizes to Aurora for what she has done and then kisses Aurora’s forehead. Because of this kiss, true love’s kiss, Aurora does wake up and Maleficent discovers that true love is real—it just may not be romantic love that is the cure. Aurora asks Maleficent if she can still move to the Moors with her and Maleficent agrees that she would like that.

Stefan catches Maleficent and they start fighting while his men also attack. After Maleficent is caught under a net made of iron—a danger for fairies—she turns Diaval into a dragon. While the fighting takes place, Aurora runs to find Maleficent’s wings and frees them. Magically, they find their way back to Maleficent and she becomes able to fly again. She and Stefan begin to fight alone, until Maleficent gains the upper hand and decides to spare Stefan’s life, saying that it’s over. When she moves away from him, Stefan takes his chance to defeat her and they both fall to their perceived deaths. Maleficent is able to free herself of his grip and flies away while he continues to fall to his death.

Maleficent and Aurora find their way back to moors where Aurora becomes the new queen and all becomes peaceful again. In the end, Aurora lives with Maleficent and Diaval in the Moors where Phillip shows up and perceivably lives with them as well.

The beauty of this movie is that it takes the well-known theory that true love’s kiss will cure anything and the new theory that it doesn’t have to be prince who saves you. Unlike the new stories where it is a blood relative that saves someone, Maleficent shows that it’s not about blood or romance at all. True can come from anyone who truly cares about you, even someone who was once overcome by hatred and revenge. This movie shows the truth about love—it never fails and always saves. It proves that love will not only save the recipient, but also the giver of love, if only that person all themselves to receive and give love.