Maleficent: I had wings once. But they were stolen from me.
Maleficent 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.
Maleficent, who was changed in this movie on the lines of a misunderstood Anti-Hero, rather than the murderous and pettysociopath 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.
Allegory: Rape. The scene in which Maleficent's wings are sheared was confirmed to be this. 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 novelization greatly expands on some points of the plot and explains more of Maleficent's backstory.
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.
Aurora:(speaking to what she clearly believes to be a benevolent, timid little fairy hiding in the bushes) Don't be afraid. Maleficent: I am not afraid. Aurora: Then come out. Maleficent: Then you'll be afraid.
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.
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.
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. The last scene is almost exactly the same.
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.
Call Back: Maleficent saves Diaval from a net when she first meets him, and during the final battle he returns the favor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
Disney Villain Death: King Stefan falls to his death from his castle's ramparts. 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The setting appears to be based on Medieval Britain. The novelization, on the other hand, sets the story in Scotland.
Fisher King: Maleficent may not be a bad ruler, limiting her displays of temper and callousness to the humans, but the Moors are quieter and less colorful when she's in charge, and perk up considerably when she abdicates in the finale.
Greed: Stefan's desire for power is what makes him betray Maleficent. Slightly subverted, however, in that when he has the chance to kill her, he can't bring himself to do it, so he instead takes her wings. The result is the same; the dying King Henry names Stefan his successor and has him marry his daughter, Princess Leila, to seal the deal.
Green-Eyed Monster: Maleficent seems to have a moment of this when she learns of Aurora's birth, since her childhood sweetheart has married and had a child with another woman. It's a very brief instance, however.
In the novelization it's much more apparent, with Maleficent later becoming jealous of Diaval spending more and more time with Aurora.
Grey and Gray Morality: The story starts with two good kingdoms failing to understand one another, with both having to go through several less-than-pleasant measures to ensure peace. Then Stefan becomes king after drugging and maiming the chief defender of the Fairies, whom he had previously claimed to love, in her sleep. Maleficent decides to get revenge by cursing his innocent infant daughter, and Stefan's guilt and impotent rage drive him to become a paranoid despot.
Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Yes. Most notably, Stefan does wear a helmet in the final battle... but takes it off almost immediately for no practical reason.
Hilariously Abusive Childhood: The trio of fairies create this out of carelessness, and are seen leaving Aurora outside, not noticing when she falls off a cliff, and apparently accidentally fed her spiders one time. Of course, it's indicated that she would have died from this kind of thing if Maleficent hadn't been watching over her.
Happens twice to Maleficent. When she curses Aurora, she says the princess will be "beloved by all who meet her" and that "no force on earth" has the power to undo the curse. Naturally, as she observes Aurora, Maleficent come to love the Princess against her will. Once she does, she tries to remove the curse only to find that she cannot.
Stefan as well. In the climax, he and Maleficent fall off a tower — as she had her wings back, she could have saved him had he not been wearing a suit of iron armor.
Hope Spot: Brought up by Diaval, believing that the Prince could be the one to break the curse.
Humans Are Bastards: Collectively speaking. Compared to the peaceful denizens of the Moors, the humans are shown to be warlike, treacherous, greedy, ruthless, and uncaring. Individually, it's a different story: Aurora, Phillip, the ironworkers, and Leila (Aurora's mother) are all shown to be good or at least decent people in their own right.
Hypnotize the Princess: Aurora, as per tradition. In an interesting twist, though, Maleficent isn't directly involved; rather the curse itself seizes control of Aurora's body, guiding her to a spindle (which it also repairs, just to fulfill the requirements).
Stefan's soldiers try to burn down the wall of thorns, with disastrous consequences for them.
Later, Maleficent uses fire in a much more effective way by transforming Diaval into a dragon.
Kryptonite Factor: Iron is this for fairies. Just touching it burns their flesh and causes great pain, although the burns heal quickly.
Lady and Knight: Diaval and Maleficent have this dynamic, though it's platonic.
Line-of-Sight Name: When cursing Aurora, Maleficent looks around for inspiration and spots a spinning wheel, probably one of the christening presents.
Live-Action Adaptation: Sorta; it's drawing heavily from Disney's Sleeping Beauty, only delving into Maleficent's past.
Love at First Sight: Appears to happen between Aurora and Phillip. But subverted. While True Love's Kiss may exist, Love at First Sight apparently does not, at least not true love sufficient to break Maleficent's curse after the couple have known each other a day. Maternal love for a child you've watched over her whole life, on the other hand...
Love Redeems: What ultimately redeems Maleficent is the maternal love she grows for Aurora.
Logo Joke: The Disney castle is shown in side view instead of the usual front view, fades into Stefan's castle, then the camera zooms over it to reveal the Moors. Very apropos, since the Disney castle is canonically the Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Loophole Abuse: Subverted. Since she's been cursed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel before sundown on her sixteenth birthday, King Stefan has all the spinning wheels in the kingdom destroyed and Aurora placed under the care of the three fairies until the day has passed. Not only does Aurora end up at the castle on that day anyway, but the curse magically compels her to find the room where all the broken spinning wheels are kept, unlocks any doors in her way, then repairs one so that she may prick her finger on it.
Maybe Ever After: Aurora and Phillip. Since his attempt at True Love's Kiss doesn't save her, their relationship is left open. Aurora's narration never confirms it, though they do smile at each other during the end scene.
Maleficent is anything but evildoing at the beginning of the film. However, given that she turns to evil later, it may be a very odd case of Prophetic Name.
Maleficent's kingdom is called "the Moors", but it contains very little actual moorland.
Noodle Incident: Apparently at one point the three fairies fed Aurora spiders.
Not His Sled: Like the animated Sleeping Beauty, the climax involves a dragon. Unlike Sleeping Beauty, the entirety of said battle takes place in a very different location, and the dragon is Diaval, not Maleficent.
Novelization: It actually has two. The main one sticks to the previous drafts of the script, so it includes such things as Maleficent's parents (namedHermia and Lysander), Diaval being far more active in Aurora's upbringing than Maleficent, and the Unresolved Sexual Tension between Maleficent and Diaval. A second novelization, by the same author, was published as The Curse of Maleifcent and tells the story of the movie from Aurora's perspective.
Oh, Crap: The Royal Court collectively shits itself when Maleficent shows up during Aurora's christening.
The soldiers who set the thorn walls on fire also have their moment when said walls started to attack them.
Parental Substitute: Maleficent and Diaval fulfill this role for Aurora far better than the fairies (who, while well-meaning, are bumbling and incompetent) and Stefan (who is a paranoid tyrant). This ends up important, as it is Maleficent's maternal love for Aurora which breaks the curse.
Perspective Flip: The premise of the movie is that it's Sleeping Beauty retold and expanded upon, though it eventually establishes itself as being its own continuity in the second half of the film. The other versions are outright dismissed as propaganda by the opening and closing narration.
Pillar of Light: When Maleficent discovers the reason for Stephan's betrayal, a pillar of her green-flame magic accompanies her Skyward Scream. The inhabitants of the castle are suitably unnerved.
Plant Person: The Sentries, tree-people who guard the border between the human kingdom and the Moors. One of them, Balthazar, appears to be friends with Maleficent. The novelization mentions another one named Birchalin.
Platonic Life Partners: Maleficent and Diaval. There are each other's closest friends, they bicker a lot, and they raise Aurora together.
The Queen's Latin: Although the action takes place in a fictional land and not in Britain, everyone speaks with either an English or Scottish accent.
Rape and Revenge: The first act follows this plot exactly, except for Stefan mutilating her rather than raping her once he's betrayed her trust and drugged her.
Red Herring: The fairies and Diaval believe that Prince Phillip's Love at First Sight for Aurora will break her curse. It doesn't, because a love that deep cannot exist between two people after just one meeting, and in the film it is rather forced by the The Three Good Fairies, leaving little room for any "true love". This works because it did break her curse in the original film.
They might be cruel bastards, but both Henry and Stefan take a very proactive approach to their kingship, personally leading their warriors and trying to strengthen and expand their realm.
Maleficent herself. She takes an active role in defending the Moors and is the one who actually cares for Aurora, although at first it's just to keep the pixies from killing her through air-headed neglect.
Sins of Our Fathers: Maleficent curses Aurora because of Stefan's betrayal and the destruction it causes.
Slave to PR: King Stefan, and King Henry before him. They're obsessed with conquering the Moors because it will net them prestige and power, and Stefan thinks really hard before begging for his daughter's life because he doesn't want to look weak in front of his nobles.
Start of Darkness: Both Maleficent and Stefan have this. Maleficent's is Stefan betraying her trust and cutting off her wings. Stefan's is more subtle; initially, it's his ambition to gain the the throne which leads him to betray Maleficent, with the curse on Aurora and the steps to avoid it compounding things.
Stripping The Scarecrow: After Diaval is transformed from a raven into a human, his first suit of clothes are taken from a scarecrow in the field.
Take a Third Option: According to the ancient legends, the human kingdom and the fairy kingdom could only be united by a "great hero" or a "terrible villain"; in truth, it was both and they were the same person.
True Love's Kiss: The escape clause to Maleficent's curse on Aurora. Maleficent adds it specifically because she believes there is no such thing, her experience with Stefan having left her disillusioned. Maleficent herself is the one to give Aurora the waking kiss, though it is more maternal love than Les Yay.
Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Maleficent, as a child, was kind, carefree, and happy, as well as having a merciful streak. Stefan, aside from wanting to take the fairy stone, appears to be the same way, judging by he and she developing a friendship that lasted for years.
Wide-Eyed Idealist: As a child, Maleficent was this; the novelization explains that she shared her parents' hope that humans and fairies could get along. Unfortunately, Stefan's betrayal made her lose that belief. Aurora, however, seems to restore her faith in the two races uniting someday.