Evil has a beginning.
Aurora: All the other fairies fly, why don't you?
Maleficent: I had wings once. But they were stolen from me.
is a live-action Perspective Flip
of Sleeping Beauty
that reveals the origin story of its iconic villainess Maleficent (Angelina Jolie
), directed by Robert Stromberg and written by Linda Woolverton
Maleficent, it seems, was once a good, beautiful fairy princess who lived in peace until her kingdom, the Moors, was attacked by humans. She stands up against them and protects her land until a betrayal breaks her heart
and turns her into the Mistress of All Evil
. She gears up for revenge against the culprit, the invading king's successor Stefan (Sharlto Copely), which culminates in her cursing his newborn daughter Aurora (Elle Fanning
). As the princess grows up, though, Maleficent begins to rethink her actions...
The film was released on May 30, 2014. The first trailer was released on the film's Facebook page
on November 13, 2013. The second trailer premiered during the Grammy Awards on Jan 27th, 2014, introducing the film's haunting rendition of "Once Upon a Dream"
by Lana Del Rey
This film has a character sheet
. Please put all tropes relating to characters there.
There are unmarked spoilers to follow on this page, so tread carefully.
Maleficent provides examples of the following:
- Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: The iron equivalent of the wall of thorns just seems to be one of these, since Maleficent, Diaval and the unconscious and floating Prince Phillip get through it (even if she gets slightly injured on the way); in reality, it's part of Stefan's strategy to limit Maleficent's mobility inside the castle and lead her to a trap.
- Actor IS the Title Character: Used in the teaser trailer.
- Adaptation Name Change:
- Phillip's father has been changed from Hubert to John.
- The three fairies are renamed Flittle, Knotgrass, and Thistletwit.
- Aurora's name is always Aurora, as opposed to the Fairies raising her as "Briar Rose".
- Diaval, the raven, was originally called Diablo.
- Adaptational Badass: Maleficent's army; instead of the incompetent goblins of the animated film, here she has a legion of Plant People who easily overpower the human army.
- Adaptational Heroism:
- Maleficent, who was changed in this movie on the lines of a misunderstood Anti-Hero, rather than the murderous and petty sociopath of the animated version. This is particularly noticeable in the scene where Maleficent, at her lowest, curses baby Aurora; in this version, the curse is only for "a sleep like death", not death itself, even before the curse is softened.
- Also Diaval, originally the far crueler Diablo.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the original film, King Stefan was a loving, if Bumbling Dad. In this movie, he is the Big Bad.
- Humans in general can fall under this. Though portrayed as accepting of fairies in the original film (note the fanfare that accompanies the Three Good Fairies' arrival to the Christening), humans in this film are shown to fear The Fair Folk, and their kings actively wage war against them.
- Adapted Out: Phillip's Sword of Truth and Shield of Virtue, since his role is reduced in the film. Similarly, the Three Good Fairies don't have wands in this continuity.
- Adult Fear:
- In a vein similar to Frozen, there's the idea of someone you love betraying/abandoning you as soon as they've gotten what they want.
- Like the original film, having one's child threatened by another adult.
- The idea of two friends growing apart due to racial tension is pretty realistic.
- Regarding Aurora: Finding out your whole life is a lie, and that the people you loved and trusted were willingly concealing the truth from you (for example, the fact that you're essentially doomed to die).
- Age Cut: During Aurora's growing-up montage, we see her eight-year-old self lying down and laughing during spring, and then the scene shifts to Fall, where she emerges from a pile of leaves as a fifteen-year-old. Doubles as a Match Cut.
- Allegory: Rape. The scene in which Maleficent's wings are sheared bore a strikingly horrifying similarity to a rape scene, which was confirmed to be intentional. It should also be noted that some interpreted this same scene as an allegory for Jolie's preventative double mastectomy, but the film's cast was confirmed well before her surgery took place. See Rape and Revenge below for more.
- All There in the Manual: The novelizations greatly expand on some points of the plot and explains more of Maleficent's backstory. Additionally, the companion book Once Upon A Dream (which also covers the original animated film and the history of the fairy tale itself) provides more information on the Moors and the various fairies that inhabit it.
- All Trolls Are Different: The wallerbogs are trolls who like throwing mud at others, and the larger, bulkier Sentries are designed to have troll-like features.
- Alternate Continuity: Despite being presented as a Perspective Flip of Sleeping Beauty since Maleficent's POV is the one being shown, it's clear that this movie passes in another continuity.
- Arcadia: The Faerie Moors, which contrasts the grim environment of the human kingdom. Also a partial example of the Land of Faerie.
- Ascended Extra: Aurora's role is expanded considerably and she is fleshed out a bit more as a character. Same with Diaval, who becomes a true confidant and friend to both Maleficent and Aurora. And with King Stefan, as well, who was a minor character in the original animated movie and here he is the main antagonist.
- Attack Backfire: Stefan tries to have the thorn barrier burned down, but Maleficent simply animates the now-flaming thorns and turns them on the army.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Maleficent creates or summons a giant dragon/serpent made out of plants to fight the king's army.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Stefan at the beginning, Aurora at the end.
- Maleficent as well. The creatures of the Moors are terrified when she sits her throne.
- Badass Army: The Sentries, who easily defeat King Henry's own men.
- Bad Boss:
- Subverted with Maleficent once she becomes Queen of the Moors. Despite becoming rather villainous over the years, she directs her villainy only at the humans — she rules the Moors as a just Queen, and we see that her realm is still a peaceful place, where the inhabitants are happy and go about their lives.
- Played straight with King Stefan, especially as his paranoia drives him into madness. He works his ironmongers to exhaustion and then wakes them up again in the wee hours to work some more.
- Backstab Backfire: Stefan.
- Battle Amongst the Flames: The final battle, thanks to Diaval torching the throne room as a fire-breathing dragon.
- Beast and Beauty: Non-romantic, all-female variation. Maleficent is the badass fairy with horns and wings who you don't want to mess with, and Aurora is the sweet All-Loving Hero who restores Maleficent's long-lost faith in love.
- Black Vikings: At least one of Stefan's knights is of African descent. As detailed on this trope's main page, this is more plausible than most people would immediately assume; additionally, the fact that the setting is a fantasy world opens up a lot of possibilities.
- Book Ends:
- In the narration: "And her name was Maleficent."
- There is one in the cinematography too. One of the earliest scenes we see is of Maleficent flying over the Moors and rising above the sky, feeling the sun on her face, in an extremely unsubtle bit of angelic imagery. The last scene is almost exactly the same.
- Brave Scot/Violent Glaswegian: Scottish-accented Henry and Stefan, who manage to be both brave warriors and irascible tyrants.
- Bright Castle: Played with. Henry's (and later Stefan's) castle is fairly impressive, but not really warm-looking. It gets progressively worse as Stefan descends into madness.
- Broken Pedestal: Aurora towards Maleficent, when she learns of her curse and the truth of who the latter is. She gets better by the end, though.
- Bullying a Dragon: "Hey, there's a forest full of monsters. Let's go attack them." Curb-Stomp Battle ensues. The novelization explains that King Henry's attacks on the Moors were preemptive strikes against The Fair Folk; as far as he was concerned, leaving a forest full of magic-wielding creatures alone would simply make it more likely that they would someday attack the humans. Never mind that the Fair Folk don't seem interested at all in the human kingdom. The Narrator also explains that Henry's final attack on the Moors was due to rumors spreading about a powerful being (Maleficent) rising up as the fairy realm's protector.
- Call Back: Maleficent saves Diaval from a net when she first meets him, and during the final battle he returns the favor.
- Changeling Fantasy: Subverted, as in the original animated film. However, the context is slightly different: In the original film, Aurora was saddened by the fact that she, being royalty, must marry someone who she views as a complete stranger instead of the man she met in the woods, on top of realizing her aunts aren't related to her (or human, for that matter). In this film, Aurora has an emotional breakdown when the Three Good Fairies reveal she's a princess and that she's actually cursed (it was unclear if she was told about the curse in the original). The major difference here, though, is that Aurora is also clearly hurt by the revelation that Maleficent, her godmother, was the fairy who cursed her.
Aurora: (teary-eyed, while confronting Maleficent) "When were you going to tell me I'm cursed?"
- Character Development:
- This story shows how Maleficent undergoes a Face-Heel Turn. And, in the end, a Heel-Face Turn. Also, Aurora has more to say for herself than in the original Sleeping Beauty.
- Stefan undergoes a Face-Heel Turn as his paranoia gets the better of him.
- Character Title
- Close on Title
- Cold Iron: Iron burns fairies, as we see when Maleficent and Stefan first meet. Stefan later uses this against Maleficent during their final battle.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Maleficent's magic. It's gold when she's working good or benign magic and green when she's using her magic for evil. When she tries to revoke her curse, it's a battle between her gold magic and her green magic. The green wins.
- Convection Schmonvection: The climax takes place in a pretty small throne room, which is on fire. Not one of the soldiers is bothered by the heat - despite being clad head to toe in iron. They would have been scalded by their armour in minutes.
- Conveniently an Orphan: Both Maleficent and Stefan have been orphaned by the start of the film. The novelization explains that Maleficent's parents were killed in the last war between humans and fairies, while Stefan's were implied to have died from a plague.
- Converse with the Unconscious: Maleficent talks to an unconscious Aurora after Phillip's kiss doesn't wake her up. However, when she kisses Aurora on the forehead before starting to leave, that ends up being the True Love's Kiss needed to awaken the princess.
- Corpsing: Averted in the film, but Discussed by Elle Fanning in one of the special features on the Blu-Ray. As it turns out, remaining still in an eternal sleep, while easy to draw on paper, can prove a bit of a challenge when one is a living, flesh-and-blood actress. The final film shows that she managed to pull it off, though.
- Costume Porn: Many of the costumes are pretty fancy and detailed.
- The Cover Changes The Meaning: The version of "Once Upon a Dream" that plays over the end credits is more wistful and haunting than the original, and in the context of the events of the film, is implicitly addressed to Maleficent instead of Philip.
- Create Your Own Villain: In a moment of what is seemingly a twisted act of mercy, Stefan doesn't kill Maleficent, instead chopping off her wings. This only serves to create his greatest nemesis for years to come.
- Creepy Souvenir: Stefan keeps Maleficent's severed wings in a glass case. Aurora later frees them, and they reattach to Maleficent just as Stefan is about to kill her.
- Cruel Mercy: The curse escape clause of "true love's kiss" is intended to be this, as Maleficent does not believe in such a thing.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The battle at the border of the Kingdom and the Moors. The Moor's sentinels literally crushed the human soldiers. A few minutes after the beginning of the battle, the human army is scattered while the sentinels are all still alive and unharmed.
- Curse Escape Clause: Maleficent works one into Aurora's curse when Stefan begs her, though she does not believe it to be functional and intends it as a Cruel Mercy.
- Dark Age Europe: Humans live in fear of The Fair Folk, and live in a grim kingdom ruled by tyrannical monarchs. Best emphasized when a peasant freaks out upon seeing Diaval become a human, believing him to be a demon. Arguably subverted with the Moors, at least until Maleficent embraces her dark side.
- Darker and Edgier: Compared to the original 1959 animated film. The scene where Maleficent gets her wings cut off is very unsettling to say the least, along with her discovering what happened to them when she wakes up. Prior to that, the war scene between King Henry and Maleficent's tree/goblin army is quite ferocious.
- Darkest Hour: The climax. And how. Diaval, in his dragon form, has been captured by the royal guard, unable to breathe fire due to being muzzled in the process; Aurora has run off, though this allows her to find and free Maleficent's wings; and Maleficent herself is surrounded by a wall of iron shields while Stefan advances towards her in an iron suit specifically crafted to burn her upon contact, with his sword in hand, and it's very, very clear that he's willing to kill Maleficent, something that his younger self had struggled with. Oh, and the fact that the whole throne room is on fire just adds to the overall hellish imagery of the scene.
- Dark Fantasy: Disney's take on the genre.
- Dark Is Evil/Dark Is Not Evil: A pair of Zig Zagged Tropes concerning Maleficent herself, in regards to her motivations and the environment she's in. She ultimately goes with the latter.
- The latter fits rather well for the Sentries: They have twisted, wooden bodies and demonic faces, but ultimately are just guards who protect the Fair Folk from human invaders. Their last scene shows them accepting Aurora as their Queen, with Balthazar even offering his hand to her, which she accepts.
- Dark Reprise: The ending credits feature one of "Once Upon A Dream", sung by Lana Del Rey.
- Deadpan Snarker: Diaval and Maleficent are a fitting pair.
- Death by Adaptation: Queen Leila (though off-screen) and King Stefan.
- Death Faked for You: Stefan goes to the Moors to kill Maleficent, but can't go through with it. Instead, he hacks off her wings as proof of her death, which insures no other candidates for Henry's throne would come after her. She is not appreciative, at all.
- Deconstruction: This movie has a bunch:
- Fairy Godmother: Send a bunch of low-ranking pixies to take care of a little child, when they have no prior experience with humans whatsoever? Then prepare to have said child almost die in their care. They wouldn't know the first thing about taking care of the baby, or what to feed it. In fact, were it not for Maleficent and Diaval, Aurora would've been dead long before her 16th birthday.
- The Curse Escape Clause and Exact Words are intertwined in this one. Maleficent's curse was so powerful, that no power on Earth can rend it asunder, not even she who invoked the curse in the first place. However, since the curse itself said that the child would grow with grace and beauty and shall be loved by all, the curse itself has the way to break the enchantment. Years of watching over Aurora leads Maleficent to care for her deeply, enough that Maleficent's kiss would qualify as true love's kiss.
- True Love's Kiss: While there's a moment between Aurora and Phillip, you can't expect there to be such a deep level of love with a person whom you just met for one afternoon. Phillip himself doesn't expect it to work either, protesting to the fairies that he barely knows Aurora, but they repeatedly insist that he kiss her anyway. This one at least gets reconstructed: Much like Once Upon a Time and Frozen did, this movie shows that romantic love is not the only kind of true love.
- One of the common modern complaints about Sleeping Beauty is the creepy vibe of the whole "kissing an unconscious woman unable to give you her consent" thing. As mentioned below under Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!, when the fairies pressure him to kiss this unconscious girl he's only met once before for all of 5 minutes, his first reaction is to point out she's asleep and it would be wrong, which greatly averts the Values Dissonance present in the source material.
- Demoted to Extra: Prince Phillip is barely there compared to the original film, and mostly serves as a vehicle to subvert the True Love's Kiss and Love at First Sight tropes. Similarly, the three fairies, who were practically the driving force of much of the original film's plot, mostly serve as Plucky Comic Relief off in the sidelines here.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Stefan's knights are able to subdue Diaval in his dragon form.
- Disney Villain Death: King Stefan falls to his death from his castle's ramparts, solely because he tried to attack Maleficent from behind after she declared their battle over. Unlike many examples in Disney movies, we actually see him after he lands. Ironically, Maleficent could have saved him, and probably would have, if he hadn't kitted himself out in a suit of armor designed to prevent her laying a finger on him.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: A young woman wakes up, disoriented and confused, and to her horror discovers that the man she befriended and opened her heart and home to has drugged her and violated her while she was unconscious, all just to gain power and prestige among his peers.
- A young girl (Aurora) is wandering the countryside without any adult supervision, all the while being watched by a dark, brooding figure (Maleficent). Just when she least expects it, said figure abducts her and takes her to a realm that is feared/hated by humans. The scenario has some similarities to Hades abducting Persephone.
- At the climax of the film, two characters are fighting on the very top of the castle: the non-human protagonist, who is viewed as evil, but whom we know to be kind at heart and remorseful of earlier, evil, actions, and who, contrary to popular belief has nothing but the best at heart for our female, human heroine; and the human antagonist, who fills a classically heroic role, despite the fact that he's a self-obsessed prick. Having defeated the antagonist, the protagonist turns to walk away, only to be attacked from behind and dodge, causing the antagonist to fall to his death. Sound familiar?
- It's almost as if they had the same writer.
- Aurora's curse, and her reaction to learning about it. On the onset of things, she looks like a perfectly healthy, bright young girl; however, the curse is shown to be in her body, waiting for the appointed day that it will doom her. When Aurora learns she's going to basically die on her sixteenth birthday, she reacts with confusion, sadness, and—- towards Maleficent and the Fairies—- a bit of anger. The curse can easily be seen as a terminal disease, and Aurora herself as an Ill Girl.
- Don't Go in the Woods: Played with. The Moors are actually a nice place, and The Fair Folk are receptive of humans who treat them well (I.e. Aurora). However, it is a very bad idea to mount an assault on the Moors, for the Sentries are more than capable of fending off any human threats.
- Dramatic Irony: Viewers know for certain that Maleficent is the one who cursed Aurora, and that Aurora is a princess; Aurora herself, however, is not aware of any of this. When she finds out about her curse and who Maleficent is, she's absolutely devastated.
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Phillip's exact reaction to the fairies telling him to kiss a sleeping Aurora.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Despite all the trauma and sorrow, Maleficent is able to save Aurora and regain her belief in true love. Aurora, for her part, becomes the ruler of both the Kingdom and the Moors, and lives for many years, if the narration is anything to go by. It can also be inferred that humans and fairies will eventually reach an understanding.
- Elite Mooks: King Henry's (and later Stefan's) soldiers could be considered this, seeing as how they fight an army of mythical monsters, a wall of giant thorns that is on fire, the most powerful faerie in the Moors, and a dragon, without batting an eye. Even if they still die, they're at least very brave and competent.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- Stefan's first appearance is as a young boy in the Moors, trying to steal a jewel, revealing his ambitious nature and his greed.
- The three fairies' establishing shot is them being blown away by Maleficent and expressing their disdain for her, reflecting how she upstages them in parenting Aurora later on.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Aurora, of course. Her mother, too, prior to marrying Stefan.
- Evil-Detecting Baby: Inverted. As a baby, Aurora only smiles at Maleficent, even when the fairy deliberately tries to scare her. In the context of this trope, this can be taken as foreshadowing that Maleficent still has good in her.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Averted. Her teasing of the pixies is funny.
- Exact Words: Maleficent really shouldn't have said that "no power on Earth" could revoke her curse, as this meant that even her own power would not be enough. However, this also ends up fixing the whole thing. "All will love her" was part of the invocation, and indeed, Maleficent does eventually begin to love Aurora in spite of herself, enough to provide "true love's kiss" when it's needed. After all, true love comes in more varieties than simple romance.
- External Retcon: For the original animated film and, by extension, the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.
- Failed a Spot Check: Despite the thunder, lightning, and industrial-strength light and magic coming from Aurora's room as Maleficent bellows out that she wants to revoke her curse, Aurora doesn't wake up and none of the three fairies check on her.
- The Fair Folk: Maleficent is one, and many others are prominently featured. In-Universe, they're referred to as "fair people," particularly by Aurora, while the novelizations do indeed use the term "fair folk."
- Fairy Godmother: Aurora initially mistakes Maleficent for hers. Given that Aurora continues to call her "Godmother", and doesn't even know her real name until later, Maleficent obviously didn't entirely disabuse her of the notion. On the other hand, her reasoning is actually pretty solid and it holds up in the end.
- Fantastic Racism: King Henry and his subjects and later King Stefan as well seem to hate the magic folk for being different and try to invade the kingdom for its supposed treasures.