When the first shot of this film reveals that the classic animated Disneyland castle from the opening titles that kick off every Disney Studio film is actually our first location, then you know this is a story close to the heart of any Disney fan.
La Belle au bois dormant or The Beauty Sleeping in the Wood – Sleeping Beauty, is one of my favourite Disney fairytale films.
With thanks to both Mother Goose and the Brothers Grimm, it is a story steeped in tradition with the tale’s origins dating back as far as 1340 AD.
What Robert Stromberg has done with the help of one of the Lion King’s 29 writers – Linda Woolverton – is to craft a story around the vindictive fairy Maleficent that can be easily understood in any language and appreciated in any culture.
Full of references to burgeoning womanhood, it is another example of our modern desire for stories about heroines, and follows in the footsteps of Frozen, while carving out a path for itself.
Angelina Jolie has a wonderful strength as well as vulnerability about her. She carries the film marvellously leaving Sharlto Copley’s King Stefan to grow madder by the day before eventually succumbing to his thirst for power.
There are so many moments to enjoy as we witness the events that become Maleficient’s motivation for her placing an irreversible curse on the young princess Aurora.
If only my 6 & 1/2 year old daughter had a few more birthdays under the belt (I’m glad she doesn’t, as she will enjoy this in a few years), then she’d be enthralled by this tale of trust and betrayal, greed and savagery, thirst for revenge and eventual acceptance of the little “Beastie” we know as the Sleeping Beauty.
Part pantomime, part Fairytale, Jolie harnesses her inner Darth Vader in an Avatar inspired world to steer this film to a triumphant climax.
When, in character, she shares with us that “I don’t like children” we know it’s an act, because Jolie in real life can’t get enough of kids, and has even broken her own cardinal rule of keeping her brood out of the spotlight by allowing daughter Vivienne Jolie-Pitt to play a younger version of Aurora who has to jump off a cliff while chasing a butterfly.
This is a cautionary tale for teenage girls about what they might give away and what they may expect in return. The film explores the notion of true love, and with influences from every fairytale playbook including Shrek, Star Wars and Snow White, it still manages to break new ground.
Kudos to Disney for keeping the film darker than you may expect, meaning that it is suitable for audiences of about 10 and up, with particular resonance for anyone lucky enough to have grown up through Disney’s Golden Age. a great date film for anyone of or close to dating age, it’s a noble addition to the hallowed kingdom.