Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Stromberg|
|Produced by||Joe Roth|
|Screenplay by||Linda Woolverton|
|Narrated by||Janet McTeer|
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios
|Box office||$758.5 million|
Maleficent is a 2014 American adventure-fantasy film directed by Robert Stromberg from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton and starring Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville. Loosely based on Charles Perrault's original fairy tale and inspired by Walt Disney's 1959 animated film, Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent portrays the story from the perspective of the eponymous antagonist, depicting her conflicted relationship with the princess and king of a corrupt kingdom.
Walt Disney Pictures announced the film's development in 2010, with Joe Roth as producer, and Jolie, Don Hahn and Michael Vieira as executive producers. Principal photography took place between June and October 2012. Maleficent premiered at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood on May 28, 2014, and was released in the United Kingdom that same day.
The film was released in the U.S. on May 30, 2014 in the Disney Digital 3D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D formats, as well as in conventional theaters. It was met with mixed reviews from critics, but was a commercial success, having grossed over $758 million worldwide, becoming the fourth highest-grossing film of 2014 and the highest-grossing film starring Jolie. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design at the 87th Academy Awards.
Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is a powerful fairy who lives in the Moors, a magical forest realm bordering a corrupt human kingdom. As a young girl, she meets and falls in love with a human peasant boy named Stefan, whose love for Maleficent is overshadowed by his ambition to become king. As they grow older, the two grow apart, and Maleficent becomes protector of the Moors. When King Henry (Kenneth Cranham) tries to conquer the Moors, a grown Maleficent forces him to retreat. Fatally wounded in battle, he declares that whoever kills Maleficent will be named his successor and marry his only daughter, Princess Leila. Stefan visits Maleficent in the Moors, where he drugs her but cannot bring himself to kill her. Instead, he cuts off her wings and presents them to the king as evidence of her death. Maleficent awakens to find herself wingless. Overwhelmed by Stefan's betrayal, she declares herself Queen of the Moors, forming a dark kingdom with Diaval (Sam Riley), a raven to whom she gives human form. He acts as her wings, her spy and confidant.
After some time, Diaval informs Maleficent that Stefan (Sharlto Copley), now king, is hosting a christening for his newborn daughter, Princess Aurora, with his wife, Queen Leila (Hannah New). Bent on revenge, Maleficent arrives uninvited and curses the infant princess: on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a deep sleep from which she will never awaken. When Stefan begs for mercy, Maleficent offers an antidote: the curse can only be broken by true love's kiss. Stefan sends Aurora to live with three pixies - Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Thistlewit (Juno Temple), and Flittle (Lesley Manville) - until the day after her sixteenth birthday, while he destroys all the spinning wheels in the kingdom and hides their remnants in the castle dungeon. He sends his armies to find and kill Maleficent, but she surrounds the Moors with an impenetrable wall of thorns. King Stefan slips into madness and paranoia trying to prevent the curse, even neglecting to see his wife on her deathbed.
Despite her initial dislike for Aurora, Maleficent begins to have motherly feelings for the girl. After a brief meeting with the young Aurora, Maleficent watches over her from afar. When Aurora (Elle Fanning) is fifteen, she encounters Maleficent. Knowing that she is being watched over, she refers to Maleficent as her "fairy godmother." Realizing she has grown fond of the princess, Maleficent attempts to revoke the curse, but is unsuccessful. In the forest, Aurora meets Prince Philip (Brenton Thwaites), and the two are instantly smitten with one another. On the day before Aurora's sixteenth birthday, Maleficent, invites her to live with her in the Moors. The pixies inadvertently tell Aurora of her past and reveal Maleficent's true identity, and a distraught Aurora runs away to her father's castle.
After a brief reunion with his daughter, Stefan locks her away in her room for her own safety. However, the power of the curse draws Aurora to the dungeon, where remnants of a spinning wheel pricks her finger. She falls into a deep sleep, fulfilling the curse. Maleficent, intent on saving her, abducts Phillip and infiltrates Stefan's castle, but Phillip's kiss fails to awaken Aurora. At her bedside, Maleficent apologizes to Aurora and kisses her forehead. Aurora awakens, as the motherly tenderness proves powerful enough to break the spell. Aurora forgives Maleficent, but as they attempt to leave the castle, Stefan and his guards spring an ambush. As her attackers close in, Maleficent transforms Diaval into a dragon freeing her, but they are driven back by the guards. Stefan beats and taunts Maleficent, but before he can deliver a killing blow, her wings are freed by Aurora and fly back to Maleficent reattaching themselves. Fully empowered, Maleficent carries Stefan to the top of the castle's highest tower. At the precipice, she cannot bring herself to kill him. Stefan attempts to kill her, however, and both plummet from the tower. Maleficent is able to break away, and Stefan falls to his death. Soon after, Princess Aurora is crowned Queen by Maleficent, unifying the two kingdoms in peace.
- Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
- Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty
- Sharlto Copley as King Stefan
- Michael Higgins as Young Stefan
- Jackson Bews as Teen Stefan
- Sam Riley as Diaval
- Imelda Staunton as Knotgrass
- Juno Temple as Thistlewit
- Lesley Manville as Flittle
- Brenton Thwaites as Prince Phillip
- Kenneth Cranham as King Henry
- Hannah New as Queen Leila
Angelina Jolie had long been attached to the project since March 2010, when Tim Burton, who had tentatively planned to direct, chose not to pursue it. The drive from Angelina Jolie to play this role stemmed from her love of the character when she was a little girl. Linda Woolverton was commissioned to write the script for the film. On January 6, 2012, Disney announced that Robert Stromberg, the production designer of Alice in Wonderland, and Oz the Great and Powerful, would direct the film. Joe Roth, Don Hahn, and Richard D. Zanuck were hired as producers, although Zanuck died later that year. Roth said the film would not have been made if Angelina Jolie had not agreed to take the title role: "She seemed like the only person who could play the part. There was no point in making the movie if it wasn't her."
In March 2012, Elle Fanning was reported to be in talks for the role of Princess Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty. Her casting was officially announced in May 2012, along with Sharlto Copley as the male lead, King Stefan, Princess Aurora's father, then described as the half-human, half-fairy son of a human king, along with Imelda Staunton; Miranda Richardson as Queen Ulla, then described as a fairy queen who is Maleficent's aunt with a dislike of her niece; Kenneth Cranham as a king; Sam Riley as Diaval, a raven who changes into human form and is Maleficent's right hand; and Lesley Manville.
Director Stromberg highlighted the "wonderful" contrast between the two lead actresses, Elle Fanning and Angelina Jolie, calling the character of Aurora the "beacon of light" that he was looking forward to blending with the darkness of Maleficent.
Linda Woolverton's screenplay went through at least 15 versions as the film progressed in the production. Director Robert Stromberg said: "I met many times with Linda Woolverton, the writer. We did lots of roundtable discussions and sort of cut out the fat as much as we could and sort of purified the storyline as much as we could". In some earlier versions of the story, Stefan was the half-human, half-fairy bastard son of King Henry. The version of the screenplay which went into shooting originally included two characters called Queen Ulla and King Kinloch, the fairy queen and the fairy king of the Moors, and the aunt and uncle of Maleficent. Miranda Richardson and Peter Capaldi were cast and shot the Queen Ulla and King Kinloch scenes, but their roles were cut in the editing process together with more than 15 minutes of the first act of the film. Stromberg said: "We spent a bit more time originally in the fairy world before we got into the human side of things ... we wanted to get it [the film] under two hours. So we cut about fifteen minutes out of the first act, and then that had to be seamed together with some pretty basic reshoots."
Stromberg later claimed in an interview that he employed an "age-old" emotional storytelling for the film and called it "the biggest thrill" against all technology advances. "And the way we play with that is we have somebody who's perhaps in love but betrayed and doesn't believe that true love exists. So the moral to it is we can all feel dark ourselves but not to lose hope because there is light in places where we might not be expecting", he explained.
John Lee Hancock assisted Stromberg with re-shoots for the film. Hancock, who had just finished overseeing the final post-production stages of Saving Mr. Banks, was approached by producer Joe Roth, with whom he had worked on Snow White and the Huntsman. Roth said: "He's not directing. He wrote pages, and I hired a first-time director, and it's good to have him on set." Roth was asked why a "film of this magnitude was entrusted to a novice director", and he noted that Stromberg won Academy Awards for production design on Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. Roth said: "The movie is gorgeous to look at, and the last 75 minutes are really entertaining. The issue was the opening, which was re-shot over eight days."
As a previous production designer, Stromberg sought to balance the use of practical and computer-generated effects. For example, while Maleficent's horns were created by makeup artist Rick Baker, Digital Domain took facial capture of Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, and Juno Temple for the three pixies to be generated with high authenticity with the help of special rigging by Disney Research in Zurich. For the visuals, Stromberg wanted to make it "a bit more grounded" and "not too surreal" because it could be distracting from the simplicity of the story. He also regretted not employing bigger sets and allowing actors to work in a more tangible environment, on "real sets with real lights".
James Newton Howard was hired to score the film in October 2012. On January 23, 2014, it was announced that recording artist Lana Del Rey would be covering the song "Once Upon a Dream", from the 1959 film Sleeping Beauty as the title song for Maleficent.
|Maleficent (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|Film score by James Newton Howard|
|Released||May 27, 2014|
|Studio||Abbey Road Studios|
All music composed by James Newton Howard (Tracks 1–22).
|Maleficent (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|2.||"Welcome to the Moors"||1:05|
|4.||"Battle of the Moors"||4:58|
|5.||"Three Peasant Women"||1:04|
|7.||"Aurora and the Fawn"||2:28|
|10.||"The Spindle's Power"||4:35|
|11.||"You Could Live Here Now"||2:26|
|12.||"Path of Destruction"||1:47|
|13.||"Aurora in Faerieland"||4:41|
|14.||"The Wall Defends Itself"||1:06|
|15.||"The Curse Won't Reverse"||1:21|
|16.||"Are You Maleficent?"||2:10|
|17.||"The Army Dances"||1:28|
|19.||"The Iron Gauntlet"||1:35|
|20.||"True Love's Kiss"||2:33|
|21.||"Maleficent Is Captured"||7:42|
|22.||"The Queen of Faerieland"||3:25|
|23.||"Once Upon a Dream"||Jack Lawrence, Sammy Fain||Lana Del Rey||3:20|
The film was originally slated for a March 2014 release, before it was changed to July 2, 2014. On September 18, 2013, the film's release date was bumped up from July 2, 2014 to May 30, due to Pixar's The Good Dinosaur having production problems and delays. In the UK, the film was released on May 28.
On August 10, 2013, as part of the live action motion picture panel of the 2013 Disney D23 Expo in the Anaheim Convention Center at Anaheim, California, Disney unveiled its first look of Maleficent by revealing the new logo of the film's title and one-minute clip from the film. Angelina Jolie made a surprise visit to the expo and talked with the attendees about her fascination with Disney's Sleeping Beauty as a child, her working experience with the filmmakers on the film, and her love of Disney. She also remarked on how she scared little girls when she was in costume, makeup, and acting during shooting; this led to the decision of hiring her and Brad Pitt's daughter, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, for the role of the young Princess Aurora, since she would not be scared of her own mother during principal photography.
Walt Disney Pictures released the teaser poster for Maleficent on November 12, 2013, featuring Jolie in costume and makeup, akin to the character's depiction in the original film. The first trailer was released the following day, on November 13. The first teaser trailer was attached to Thor: The Dark World, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Frozen, and Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters. Two more trailers were released in January 2014, revealing Maleficent's appearance. A third trailer featured Lana Del Rey singing "Once Upon a Dream". The final trailer was released on March 18, 2014.
Starting April 18, 2014, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney California Adventure previewed the film inside the ABC Sound Studio and It's Tough to Be a Bug! theaters, respectively. Disney Infinity 2.0 featured Maleficent as a playable figure utilizing the look from the movie.
Maleficent was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and digital download on November 4, 2014. The film topped the home video sales chart in its first week of release. As of February 2015, Maleficent has made over $74 million in total home video sales.
Maleficent earned a gross of $241.4 million in North America and $517.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $758.5 million. Calculating in all expenses, Deadline.com estimated that the film made a profit of $190.77 million. Worldwide, in its opening weekend, the film earned $175.5 million, $9 million of which was from IMAX locations. It is also the biggest debut among films starring Angelina Jolie, and the actress' highest-grossing film of all time worldwide, as well as the fourth highest-grossing 2014 film (behind Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and Guardians of the Galaxy), and the 15th Disney-distributed film to surpass the $700 million mark at the worldwide box office. The film is also one of four Walt Disney Studios releases in 2014 to gross over $500 million; the other titles being Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Big Hero 6.
In North America, Maleficent earned $4.2 million in Thursday night showings, surpassing the midnight or late-night grosses of previous live-action fantasy films, Alice in Wonderland, Oz the Great and Powerful and Snow White and the Huntsman. By the end of its opening day (including late-night Thursday earnings), the film earned $24.3 million, similar to Oz, but ahead of Snow White and the Huntsman and behind Alice. Maleficent finished its debut weekend at first place with $69.4 million ($6.7 million of which was earned from IMAX locations and 35% of which was earned from 3D showings), which exceeded Disney's expectations of a $60 million opening and making it the largest opening weekend performance for a live-action film starring Jolie (a record previously held by her 2008 film Wanted), as well as the third highest opening weekend for a solo female star (behind the first two films in The Hunger Games series). Disney reported that 46% of ticket buyers in Thursday previews were male, while weekend reports said family audiences accounted for 45% of the film's total audience, and couples and teens accounted for 38% and 18% respectively. Female audiences and moviegoers over 25 years old held respective proportions of 60% and 51%. Dave Hollis, head of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, attributed this success to "some momentum and great word-of-mouth." During its first week, the film earned a total of $93.8 million, ahead of Snow White yet behind Oz and Alice. In its second weekend, Maleficent dropped by 50.6% to $34.3 million, finishing in second place. It experienced a smaller second-weekend drop than Snow White, yet still bigger than Oz and Alice. In North America, Maleficent is the eighth highest-grossing 2014 film.
Maleficent opened outside North America on the same weekend as North America, earning $20.1 million from 35 territories in its first two days (May 28–29, 2014). During its opening weekend, the film topped the box office with $106.1 million from 47 territories. Its largest opening weekends were in China ($22.2 million), Mexico ($14.0 million) and Russia and the CIS ($13.0 million). On the second weekend of release, Maleficent fell to $61.7 million, earning from 52 markets. It was in first place at the box office outside North America on three weekends, its first, third ($39.2 million) and fourth ($47.9 million).
Maleficent is the fourth highest-grossing 2014 film, and Angelina Jolie's highest-grossing live-action film. In total earnings, the film's top markets after North America are Japan ($57.6 million), China ($47.7 million), Mexico ($46.2 million), Russia ($37.7 million), Brazil ($33.2 million), the United Kingdom ($31.7 million), Venezuela ($24.5 million) and Italy ($19.1 million). It was also the most watched film at the Maltese box office in 2014, enjoying an eighteen-week run.
Dave Lewis, writing for HitFix, predicted that although Disney fairy tales and Angelina Jolie's performance might attract audiences, Maleficent would not gross even as much as Oz the Great and Powerful, explaining that the film was released on the same time frame with competitive releases like X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla and A Million Ways to Die in the West, even though it outperformed those films later on. Boxoffice wrote that Maleficent had a successful marketing campaign, featured Jolie in the title role, and its "female-driven" themes and plot aimed at women. However, the site also noted that the film would have to compete with other summer releases, and the character of Maleficent may not attract young children. Todd Cunningham of The Wrap shared the same opinion, writing that "[the film's] connecting with parents and that Jolie's considerable star power is having a big impact." Wells Fargo's Marci Ryvicker predicted that Maleficent might be "too dark and scary to be profitable" and was likely to force Disney "into a write-down", as reported by The New York Times; while RBC Capital Markets' David Bank commented that "It's definitely in the 'not a sure thing' bucket." Wall St. Cheat Sheet explained that the film approached to a more "grown-up" and "sinister" aspect of the classic, and targeted for an older audience like young adults. "It's just too scary for younger children," the site wrote. ScreenRant added that the PG rating of the film would "fill a void in the marketplace, which is currently without a traditional "family friendly" option." Box Office Mojo primarily compared the film with 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman (another film that also focused on a fairy tale villain), predicting that Maleficent "has a good chance" of matching Snow White's gross in North America box office. The film however, ended up grossing double the amount projected.
Variety wrote that the film's opening weekend outperforming initial box-office projections was later attributed by analysts in part to Disney's successful marketing to the "potent demographic" (female audiences) much like the studio accomplished with Frozen, in which both films feature a strong female lead. Disney argued that a lack of family-friendly options in the marketplace would "bode well for Maleficent's [box office] performance" in its two first weeks of release.
The cost of the film was offset by a rebate from the UK in the amount of £23,535,108 ($37 million in 2012, the period in which it was shot).
Maleficent received mixed reviews from critics. The film holds a 50% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 201 reviews, with an average score of 5.7/10. The site's consensus reads, "Angelina Jolie's magnetic performance outshines Maleficent's dazzling special effects; unfortunately, the movie around them fails to justify all that impressive effort." On Metacritic, the film has a rating of 56 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an "A" grade on a scale of A+ to F. Angelina Jolie's performance in the film has been repeatedly singled out for praise by critics.
Kate Taylor of The Globe and Mail was very positive about the film, writing that "[it] surprises not for its baroque visions of a colourful woodland enlivened by joyous fairies and a forbidding castle peopled by unhappy humans, but rather for the thematic richness of its story gloriously personified by Angelina Jolie in the title role." While criticizing the overuse of CGI and 3D effects, she particularly praised the positive message of the film and Jolie's performance. She concluded her review that "Long live the feminist revisionist backstory." On the contrary, Keith Staskiewicz, writing for the Entertainment Weekly, awarded the film a "B-" and wrote that "there's a lot of levitating cliffs and odd flora. But despite their bleeding-edge digital design, the backgrounds have all the depth of the old matte-painted backgrounds of the analog days," which made the film "[feel] classical in nature." He further commented that "The characters are boiled down to their essentials, the humor is timelessly broad." Michael Philips of Chicago Tribune gave the film two and a half stars, commenting that the recent "formula" that "a new angle on a well-known fairy tale appears in the light" "works" with Maleficent. He also said that the film "is all about second thoughts", as Maleficent "spends much of the film as Aurora's conflicted fairy godmother." Phillips particularly praised Jolie and Elle Fanning's acting, Rick Baker's makeup (for Jolie's "angular, serrated look"), but criticized James Newton Howard's "sloshy, pushy" musical score. Robbie Collin of The Telegraph wrote, "This Disney reimagining of Sleeping Beauty lacks true enchantment, but Angelina Jolie saves the day." Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, writing "This is Jolie's film because of the Maleficent she makes. Everyone else, even Aurora, fades in her presence." J.C. Maçek III of PopMatters wrote, "Even at its silliest, Maleficent is a well-acted film, with Sharlto Copley turning in a memorable performance and Elle Fanning proving to be an inspired choice for Aurora/Sleeping Beauty. Jolie manages to steal her own show in most every scene. Jolie is excellent as the hopeful fairy, enjoying the world she flies through. She is also brilliant as the Dark Lady, who could be a perfect counterpart to any Darth Vader, as she malevolently takes her revenge on those who have wronged her."
Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post awarded the film three-and-a-half out of four stars, commenting that "Still, for all its limitations, "Maleficent" manages to be improbably entertaining to watch, due solely to its title character." Writing for Roger Ebert's website, Matt Zoller Seitz awarded Maleficent three out of four stars, praising the themes of the film and the acting of Jolie. Seitz also called the scene in which Maleficent discovers the loss of her wings "the most traumatizing image I've seen in a Hollywood fairy tale since the Christ-like sacrifice of Aslan in 2005's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." The review on The Globe and Mail further explained that "in the simple context of a fairy tale, Jolie does make both the terrifying horned creature and her gradual awakening heartfelt," extolling the "emotional richness" behind her physical acts. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times felt more negatively, assigning it a D. Although Roeper praised the visuals, he criticized the acting and writing, stating that "the story itself might well put you into the same type of coma that befalls the heroine." However, some such as Stella Morabito of The Federalist, criticized the film for its negative portrayal of men. According to Morabito, "Maleficent lacks a single complex male character". Morabito also criticized the film for portraying Maleficent as a hero.
Mary Costa, who voiced Aurora in the 1959 animated motion picture, called the film, "a very good movie". She added that “the concept and perspective are totally different than the original film’s, which makes it new and interesting." As for Jolie's performance, she said "No one could have played the part of Maleficent better," concluding that "she was absolutely magnificent!”
|List of awards and nominations|
|Award / Film Festival||Category||Recipient(s)||Result|
|87th Academy Awards||Best Costume Design||Anna B. Sheppard||Nominated|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association||Best Costume Design||Anna B. Sheppard||Nominated|
|Best Hair & Makeup||Nominated|
|Heartland Film Festival||Truly Moving Picture Award||Robert Stromberg||Won|
|Hollywood Film Awards||Hollywood Production Design||Dylan Cole and Gary Freeman||Won|
|Hollywood Music in Media Awards||Original Score - SI-FI/Fantasy Film||James Newton Howard||Nominated|
|Nickelodeon Mexico Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite movie||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite Movie||Won|
|Favorite Family Movie||Won|
|Favorite Movie Actress||Angelina Jolie||Nominated|
|Favorite Action Movie Actress||Nominated|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society||Best Live Action Family Film||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Anna B. Sheppard||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Costume Design||Anna B. Sheppard||Nominated|
|Best Art Direction & Production Design||Dylan Cole, Frank Walsh, Gary Freeman||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Action||Nominated|
|Choice Movie Actress: Action||Angelina Jolie||Nominated|
|45th Annual British Academy Children's Awards||BAFTA Kid's Vote - Film in 2014||Nominated|
|Children's Feature Film||Nominated|
|Saturn Award||Best Fantasy Film||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Angelina Jolie||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Younger Actor||Elle Fanning||Nominated|
|Best Costume||Anna B. Sheppard||Nominated|
|Kids' Choice Award||Favorite Movie||Nominated|
|Favorite Actress||Angelina Jolie||Nominated|
|Favorite Villain||Angelina Jolie||Won|
|Favorite Actress||Elle Fanning||Nominated|
|Visual Effects Society Awards (VES Awards)||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture||Carey Villegas, Barrie Hemsley, Adam Valdez, Kelly Port, Michael Dawson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Performance of an Animated Character in a Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture||Darren Hendler, Matthias Wittmann, Jeremy Buttell, Elliot Rosenstein||Nominated|
|Hollywood Post Alliance Awards (HPA Awards)||Outstanding Visual Effects – Feature Film||Carey Villegas, Adam Valdez, Seth Maury, Kevin Hahn, David Seager // MPC||Nominated|
Multiple reviewers and commentators have opined that an early scene in the movie, in which Stefan drugs Maleficent and removes her wings from her unconscious body, is a metaphor for rape. Hayley Krischner of The Huffington Post interpreted the scene as an important reference to rape culture: "This is the horrific side of rape culture. We're so enmeshed in it that it's impossible to ignore a metaphoric rape that occurs in a Disney movie". She went on to praise the film for giving a positive and hopeful message to rape victims, ultimately allowing "the woman to recover. It gives her agency. It gives her power. It allows her to reclaim the story". Monika Bartyzel of The Week noted the scene's implications in her review: "In its first act, Maleficent offers a dark, surprisingly adult exploration of rape and female mutilation". However, Bartyzel went on to opine that the film portrayed Maleficent's actions as "a rape revenge fantasy" and criticized the film for not following through on its early subtext, ultimately calling it less feminist and reductive compared to its 1959 counterpart: "In Maleficent, Aurora is the product of a cold and loveless marriage and a vengeful, unhinged rapist. Her safety relies on a trio of clueless and dangerously careless fairies, and her Godmother is the woman who cursed her — and who had, in turn, been violated by her own father". Angelina Jolie addressed the issue during an interview with BBC Radio 4 on the Woman's Hour programme and claimed that the subtext was intentional: "The question was asked: 'What could make a woman become so dark and lose all sense of her maternity, her womanhood, and her softness?' [...] We were very conscious, the writer and I, that [the scene] was a metaphor for rape". She further explained that the answer to the question "What could bring her back?" was still "an extreme Disney, fun version [of the story]", but "at the core it is abuse, and how the abused then have a choice of abusing others or overcoming and remaining loving, open people".
Jordan Shapiro of Forbes argued that the film's main subtext was the detrimental effects of ultimatums between capitalist and socialist societies. He pointed out that the Moors represented a socialist, nature-oriented, democratic society while the human kingdom was one of capitalism, industry and absolute monarchy. Shapiro further commented that the character of Stefan, his theft of the Moors' riches (the jewel) and his mutilation of Maleficent's wings for the sake of his ambition were references to the American Dream. He conceived the wing-tearing scene as "a social commentary that any hierarchical rise to power inherently happens through the exploitation of others", explaining that it was the reason why "without her wings, Maleficent also becomes an oppressive ruler of the Moors. Everything she represents, believes and stands for has been grounded", and "like most victims of oppression", "she takes it out on those who are smaller and weaker". He concluded that through the merge of the two kingdoms at the end of the film, it sought to weave together capitalism and socialism and let go oppositions: "It is time to leave the kingdom of familiar partisan oppositions: let's replace either/or with neither/nor or both/and".
On June 3, 2014, Angelina Jolie hinted about the possibility of a sequel. On June 15, 2015, Disney announced the sequel with Linda Woolverton returning to write the screenplay and Joe Roth to produce the film. On April 26, 2016, it was confirmed that Angelina Jolie will reprise her role as Maleficent.
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