Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.
This review is even more out of the norm as instead of a book, I’m going to talk about the villain/heroine Maleficent from the movie with the same title. I’ve never reviewed a heroine from a movie, or actually a movie, but this character has stuck with me since I saw the film yesterday. I’m going to do my best not to give out spoilers while explaining how the heroine in this movie had me leaving the theater with a lot to think about.
The story line does veer away from Disney’s animated movie Sleeping Beauty. For one, the main character/story to be told is Maleficent’s and not Aurora’s. And in Maleficent, we’re shown what drove her to become evil and curse the princess. Most of the time, evil character are just evil. In Maleficent, we see how a person’s character is shaped — and changed — by those around them and how they are treated.
I’ll admit I was apprehensive when I went to see the film and debated for weeks if I would go see it. I love all things Disney, and to even contemplate not seeing a Disney movie was strange. But, I had grown concerned about the trend of anti-heroes and criminals being portrayed as “heroes” in fiction (whether movies, TV shows, or books). Criminals are elevated to hero-worship status and their actions are often excused and usually blamed on the people or circumstances they find themselves. There evilness is portrayed as something noble and admirable.
As I love Disney movies, I decided to put my bias of these type of stories aside and go see it before I judged. As weird as it sounds, I “trusted” Disney to use the villain/anti-hero in way where true evil wasn’t shown as “good”, justifiable, and the preferred way to become.
And I was right. Evil was shown as revenge. Hatred. Not something to be proud of. Not noble. Though we saw why the evil came to be. Evil at its essence was heartbreak and not an ultimate strength. But, there was still some hope. Evil wasn’t an either or state. Evil wasn’t all there was to a person, and all they would ever be.
Maleficent was changed by the circumstances that happened to her. I felt her pain, her rage, her hurt, and the deep betrayal. I wanted to weep for her, and also fight alongside her. Yet, when her anger turned into a bitterness that evolved into evil directing her life and actions, I found myself pulling away from Maleficent. I was torn. I wanted to root for her, but couldn’t condone other people being hurt in order for her to seek revenge. But, interestingly, when her evil was its darkest point, there was still hope in Maleficent. Something else beside pure evil. There was more to her. It shone through in her humor and some of her actions. I saw that she wanted more than even she herself thought she could be.
Maleficent is a self-rescue princess not because she was all good, pure, never made a mistake, or fought for the downtrodden, but because she struggled with herself — her need to live for one horrific moment in her life — and decided to grow from that moment than stay there. Maleficent reminded me that not only can circumstances make a person who they are, but so does how others treat them. Sometimes those actions change people from good to evil, but that doesn’t mean that is their destiny forever.
The ending statement in the movie was perfect, summed it up brilliantly, but I don’t want to include it as it was one that touched me deeply, and I don’t want to take away that moment from another viewer.
This is the first movie I’ve ever wanted to go see again in a theater. And to think it was one I wanted to skip altogether.