Last week I managed to slip into one of my favourite fairy tales again – but this time, from a completely different angle. Me and my mum went to see Disney’s Maleficent and I was very excited, but quite nervous. Sleeping Beauty, alongside the Little Mermaid, has always been one of my favourite fairy tales and Disney Princess films. I always wanted to be a princess growing up, firstly of the Disney variety, and this didn’t go away, particularly when I read Meg Cabot’s incredible teen books The Princess Diaries… I have been waiting for my mum and dad to declare to me that I am actually a princess and then proceed to hand me a tiara ever since I first read them.
Maleficent has been highly publicised and I think is set to take the cinemas by storm. The re-imagining of fairy tales has been pretty prolific in the past few years. In 2011, Amanda Seyfried starred in the gothic and compelling Red Riding Hood; 2012 saw two different versions of Snow White hit the cinemas, with Kristen Stewart in the dark Snow White and the Huntsman and Lily Collins taking the leading role in the more colourful Mirror Mirror. In 2015, we look forward to the live action Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh and with Downton Abbey’s Lily James starring in the titular role. I cannot wait to see this film too: when we were waiting for Maleficent to start, whilst the trailers were running, we were treated to an extended sequence of a sparkling glass slipper and a golden butterfly as a teaser; this immediately whetted my appetite for fairy tale films, and Maleficent certainly didn’t disappoint.
To begin with, I can tell that I thoroughly enjoyed it as I was so enthralled by everything that happened that, when it came to an end, it felt like barely any time had passed at all. The special effects had me marvelling the whole way through – it makes me sound really old when I write that I am amazed at what they can achieve through CGI, but I truly am amazed. The Moors, the kingdom next to the human kingdom of which Aurora is princess, was one of the most beautiful fantastical landscapes I have ever seen. Covered in flowers, nature and incredible magical creatures, it was more beautiful than the castle on the hill in the human kingdom that I had loved in the 1959 cartoon telling of the tale. By contrast, the human world seemed less exciting and set the scene for the retelling of the story from the seemingly villainous Maleficent’s point of view. I’m not going to ruin the film, except to tell you to go and see it!
I feel like my view of Sleeping Beauty (even though this is completely outside the original Charles Perrault fairy tale so doesn’t change the fundamental story that lies beneath the Disney retellings) has completely changed. Maleficent is no longer so terrible… and is actually incredible beautiful, as portrayed by Angelina Jolie. Even with the razor-sharp cheekbones and formidable horns, Jolie is strikingly flawless. Elle Fanning plays Aurora, and she is so endearing as the wondrous and ethereally pretty young princess. She skips around the woods, the castle and the Moors and is completely adorable. Almost as adorable as Jolie’s daughter Vivienne, who was so sweet as a young Aurora that it made my heart melt!
Aside from all the beautiful characters, there is also a very lovely handsome Prince. They obviously didn’t sing the famous Once Upon a Dream song from the 1959 film, but we were treated to Lana Del Ray singing a slowed version over the credits, which I really enjoyed.
Reading back, it’s almost like I am really singing its praises – but it’s hard for a girl who has always dreamed of being a princess not to fall in love with a fairy tale! It was different to what I expected before I walked into the cinema screen, but I enjoyed it so much that now I am certain that I cannot wait for the release of Cinderella.