These days live-action fairy tales are nearly as popular as superhero films, and in both cases one studio is leading the charge: Disney. Unlike 2010’s Alice in Wonderland or 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful – being, respectively, a sequel and prequel to their famous predecessors – Disney’s forthcoming Maleficent is something different altogether: it’s the villain’s tale.
Not unlike how Wicked the musical (and the book it’s base upon) focuses on the back story of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West, Maleficent will explore how the dark fairy came to curse the young princess, Aurora, turning her into the famous Sleeping Beauty. Based on the trailers that have already released, it’s clear screenwriter Linda Woolverton (Alice in Wonderland) and director Robert Stromberg (the art director on Alice and Oz) are not interested in simply retelling Sleeping Beauty from the dark fairy’s perspective.
Instead, this new spin on the fairy tale paints Maleficent as more of a wronged, tragic hero than an evil sorceress hell bent on destroying everyone else’s happiness. (Though, there’s no saying she can’t be both.)
The absolutely inspired casting of Angelina Jolie, the moody and stylish visuals, and Lana del Ray’s haunting rendition of the classic, “Once Upon a Dream” have already given this film plenty of buzz. And judging from the release of today’s spectacular new trailer, that buzz will only continue to grow.
In yesterday’s teaser for this new trailer, we first saw Maleficent’s wings, now on full display above. Immediately the question arises, “What happened to her wings?” because as we know come Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent has none. She can turn into a giant dragon – something else teased in the new footage – but unlike the good fairies who raise Aurora, this dark fairy is wingless.
There’s a line in an earlier preview where Maleficent says her wings were “stolen” from her, implying that she was done some wrong in the past. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume Maleficent’s apparently unprovoked curse on the young Aurora is somehow tied to whoever stole her wings. There are moments in the trailer where a winged Maleficent and an army of the forest (literally) face off against some king and his troops – Aurora’s father, King Stefan (Sharlto Copley, fresh off playing baddies in Elysium and Oldboy) perhaps?
Another point of further exploration hinted at is a meeting between Maleficent and Aurora before her sixteenth birthday. In fact, since at one point Jolie’s daughter plays Aurora as a young child, it’s obvious Maleficent and Aurora meet more than once during the time between the curse being cast and the curse being enacted. The assumption then, is that it’s through these meetings Maleficent’s true story is explained as she tells it to Aurora. Revealing yourself to the young girl you’ve cursed does seem a bit odd, but then Maleficent’s motivation was always mysterious.
Maleficent opens in U.S. theaters on May 30th, 2014.