Run Time: 97 minutes
Directed By: Robert Stromberg
This film does an excellent job of constructing strong, complex female leads. The film also dispels the myth of heterosexual love as perfect and necessary for happiness.
Maleficent, the villain in Sleeping Beauty, reveals her side of the story regarding the curse she put on Princess Aurora.
- Name calling, threatening and demeaning language- “you’re hideous to look at,” “bring me her head,” “kill,” “I hate you,” “stupid,” “greedy bloated goat,” “little beast,” “silly peasant girl,” “imbecile,” “idiots”
- Maleficent’s skin is often seared by iron- her burns are temporarily visible
- Weapons- swords, Maleficent uses her wings as weapons, dagger, fire, bows and arrows
- War-like fighting
- Blood is visible when Aurora pricks her finger
- Stephen uses iron to cut Maleficent’s wings off
- Bloody face
- Slapping, hitting, clubbing, tossing, punching
- The king falls to his death
- The king swats a small fairy and hurts her arm
- Sexual innuendo
- Drinking from a flask
- Stephen drugs Maleficent so that he can cut off her wings. Although there is minimal visible drug and alcohol use, the severity of drugging another person, especially without the person’s consent, is of concern.
- The main female characters in the film challenge traditional gender roles regarding femininity. For example, Maleficent appears to be the most powerful being in all of the land. Even as a young girl, Maleficent is active, independent, strong, and respected as she is protector of the Moors. Maleficent explores the Moors with her powerful wings and has magical powers that can heal, transform, destroy, and create. Although Maleficent may have a cold exterior, she is actually very caring as she keeps a watchful eye on Aurora throughout her childhood.
- Princess Aurora is also active throughout her childhood as she enjoys exploring the Moors, playing in the mud, and is unafraid.
- Both Maleficent and Princess Aurora are in charge of their respective kingdoms by the end of the film and make peace between the magical and human worlds.
- Diaval challenges gender roles regarding masculinity. For example, he voluntarily serves Maleficent and treats her as a superior. Additionally, Diaval shows that he is caring and kind, as he watches out for Aurora during her childhood.
- One minor character appears to be of color.
Sexual Orientation: N/A
- Oftentimes Disney princesses are pretty but not powerful, and the villains are portrayed as powerful but not pretty. Therefore, hegemonic femininity is often a sign of weakness. Maleficent, however, adheres to ideal beauty (slender and white) and her body has many signifiers of femininity. For example, Maleficent has very high cheekbones, full lips adorned with red lipstick, and long nails and eyelashes, yet she is depicted as the most powerful being in the land.
- Diaval, who appears to have scars all over his body, is depicted in a positive manner. This is important because aberrant bodies are usually associated with immoral character and ugliness. However, Diaval is depicted as a “good” character and is not depicted as unattractive.
- The first gift given to Princess Aurora after her birth is beauty and then the second gift is happiness. This is problematic because it implies that beauty is essential to a woman’s happiness.
- There is only one minor character of color (tokenism) and no major characters of color in the film.
- There are no variations of sexual orientation.
- No major or minor characters appear to have a visible disability.
- Most bodies adhere to ideal body types.
Suggested talking points
- A common theme in the film is revenge and its dangerous effects. For example, Maleficent places a curse on Aurora because Aurora is the daughter of the man who cut off her wings. Maleficent acts out before considering the consequences the curse may have on the innocent child and on Maleficent herself.
- At one point, the former king mentions taking over the Moors so that he can exploit the land’s treasures. This is reminiscent of manifest destiny and the conquering of Other people (beings in the Moors) no matter the damage it may cause.
- It is important to note that families can take many forms. Three fairies take on the role of raising Princess Aurora.
- Actions that can be considered sexual in any way (even hugging) should have the consent of all parties involved. Even though the fairies give Prince Phillip permission to kiss Aurora while she is in her slumber, it is still not permissible to kiss someone without their consent.
- The cultural myth of “true love” is often depicted as a romantic relationship between a man and a woman. The film challenges this notion by having the “true love’s kiss” be between Maleficent and Aurora rather than Prince Phillip and Aurora.
Keywords: disney, maleficent, gender, four paws, 4 paws, progressive, family, movie, adventure, fantasy