I thought Maleficent would be fun, and that Angelina Jolie would be “productive of harm or evil” as Merriam-Webster, helpfully explained. My friend and I did imagine our own ending fifteen minutes into the film, inspired by its subversiveness and by subscribing to the school of Frozen thought. We didn’t do too badly! This is another story that emphasises how important solidarity among girls and women is, but more importantly that true love does not have to be between a man and a woman.
“There is nothing like True Love”, says a cynical and hardened Maleficent. But, she is capable of true love even after her heart is broken.
Most of the stories we’ve grown up with always have the man as the saviour: the Princes in Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, the woodcutter in Little Red Riding Hood, and in many more modern stories, especially films, women play second-fiddle to the hero to aid his growth or increase his worth by adding value to the space around him with “her beauty, intelligence, grace, and infectious laughter”. All qualities that should compliment him or be trumped. All these stories: written, visual, oral make men central to a woman’s idea of Love. True Love. We are so overwhelmed by them that we forget love can be, even without men. In their absence, we feel deficient. Without a father (Aurora), without a lover (Maleficent ad Aurora), Maleficent and Aurora find love between themselves. Okay. This was/ is not about homoeroticism, although it was an acceptable imagined ending if it had happened for my friend and I. We, instead, had to settle for Agape or unconditional love.
In Maleficent, King Stephan is the foil. As he descends into hubris and paranoia, Maleficent awakens into self-realisation and magnanimity. She is capable of that because of Aurora. Maleficent’s wings are clipped, her freedom and power are greatly reduced by the man she loves and trusts. And what does she do after? She turns a crow into a man so that he becomes “her wings”. She creates a man whom she trusts. The agency lies within her, not outside.
Many of us have been betrayed and have had our hearts broken because we aspired/ aspire towards “true love”. Then we try and replace or negate that horrible experience by loving another man. The cycle continues. Some of us find a semblance of true love while several give up on the idea itself, and many more find them in MBs, Nicholas Sparks, and more recently in Korean drama.
What Maleficent tells us, women and girls, is that it is okay to have our hearts broken. We can heal. And that women ourselves can help ourselves heal. There are many other truths you can take away from the film among which two are very obvious: good and evil are not black and white, and that the story always belongs to the one narrating it.
This is my limited interpretation of the film. It opened my love eye.
Forget the love eye, your ordinary eyes won’t be too unhappy being open for Angelina Jolie! 😀