After gestating in the development stage for a few years, Disney’s Maleficent has finally begun production. The Wicked-style re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty (from the POV of its villain) stars Angelina Jolie – who appears alongside an admirable cast of character actors and rising stars, including, Elle Fanning (Super 8), Sharlto Copley (District 9), and Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow), among others.

To mark the occasion, Disney has unveiled the first image of Jolie “in character” as the eponymous sorceress. The Oscar-winning actress/bombshell’s makeup was designed by none other than the legendary Rick Baker, who’s accumulated seven (count ’em, seven) Oscars for his work on such films as An American Werewolf in London, the Men in Black series, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, among many others (check out our video interview with Baker).

Will Baker earn yet another golden statuette for his contributions to Maleficent? Take a look at the first photo of Jolie in costume, and see what you think (click on the image for a larger version):

Jolie’s Maleficent getup is pretty simple (a wraparound headpiece with horns, plus emerald-green contact lens), but she still looks good as the famous sorceress. The film is meant to humanize the characer, as it “reveals the events that hardened her heart and drove her to curse the baby, Aurora” – which, in Disney’s animated version of Sleeping Beauty, amounted to her being denied an invitation to the christening of the princess. Hence, Jolie in Maleficent is less intimidating – and falls more on the attractive side, as far as appearance is concerned.

It sounds as though Linda Woolverton’s Maleficent screenplay takes a proto-feminist, revisionist approach to the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. However, unlike Woolverton’s script work on Disney’s animated Mulan movie and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, it’s less about female empowerment (or “grrl power,” if you prefer) and more about painting a traditionally simple villain in shades of gray. Since the entire film is focused on that task, Maleficent could prove more successful than the recently-released Snow White and the Huntsman did (in that respect).

Maleficent opens in theaters (2D and 3D) around the U.S. on March 14th, 2014.

Source: Walt Disney Pictures