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Friday, October 5, 2012

Maleficent, Mistress of All Evil - Slighted Beauty Queen?

As a slight twist for this blog, I've decided to dedicate a post to a female villain once a week for the month of October. After all, what's a good princess story without a deliciously evil villain?

I'll admit, the Mistress of All Evil has been on my mind. After all, she'll be getting her own live action film in 2014, starring Angelina Jolie. Disney synergy works in mysterious ways, doesn't it? I can't wait to see this movie when it debuts.

Speaking of which, I can't help but think that for Halloween celebrations in the parks the castles should get involved - well, the Sleeping Beauty Castles anyway. I mean, how amazing would it be to enter Disneyland and have your eye drawn immediately to a castle covered in thorns?

Original concept art by Eyvind Earle
Of course, if Disney didn't feel like spending the time and money on physical, 3-dimensional thorns, they could have this be a nighttime-only thing. Utilizing the projection technology they use for the fireworks shows, they could easily project intimidating brambles and thorns with some mood lighting for the desired effect...and if desired further, a show could be built around this where good conquers evil and the castle is restored (and maybe a princess woken by true love's kiss, who knows). Obviously we don't want to copy Fantasmic!, but a little something something might be fun.

Just like those brambles, Maleficent is a bit edgier than the rest of the Disney villains. As far as the film Sleeping Beauty is concerned, the only reason why Maleficent curses the innocent baby Aurora (still fresh in her cradle) is that she wasn't invited to a party. Lesson learned: even if you really don't want a certain someone to come to your bash, if you invite everyone else, word is going to get around and that person is going to be pissed off.

Maleficent's physical design is rather edgy, too. In a complete switcheroo at the studio when this film was being produced, Walt Disney decided that instead of starting with the characters' designs first and then the backgrounds complementing them, that Eyvind Earle's beautiful backgrounds take center stage and the character designs be done after. A lot of the animation artists weren't happy about this, but the film's gorgeous look has ensured it to be a classic and innovative film. The characters are beautiful themselves, and Maleficent is no exception. Marc Davis animated her beautifully.

Okay, yes, she's green...but she wears it well, doesn't she? The purple and black complement her so well. Her facial structure is gorgeous, and she's tall and slender (going on that alone, she is, interestingly enough, similar to Aurora). The horns and collar add a nice touch of drama (and foreshadow what is to come). And on top of it all, she's almost sultry in a mysterious way. She has her very own dark castle with minions, and wherever she goes, her loyal companion, Diablo, accompanies her. On top of all that, being a dark fairy, she has very powerful magic that even the 3 good fairies are nervous to compete with.

It's interesting. Maleficent has so much going for her that one may wonder why she would even care whether she was invited to the newborn princess' celebration. Looking at the situation itself, she must have been extremely embarrassed - Merryweather declares to the entire (very public) room that Maleficent wasn't "wanted" at the celebration. This (and a few visual cues) indicate that Maleficent hasn't exactly had a spotless record that would warrant her an invitation. Still, the last thing anyone (especially one with clearly as much pride as Maleficent has) would want is to be told in front of a large group of people at a party is that no one wanted them there. I mean - who wouldn't try to throw something back in these jerks' faces? The one person who clearly was wanted there was Aurora, so she became Maleficent's target. 

I'm not saying that it is reasonable to curse a newborn baby to die at 16, but Maleficent's behavior (from a generic standpoint) seems slightly more understandable when looked at from a different angle. It seemed like an impulsive and prideful decision more than anything else...and honestly? Perhaps Maleficent is lonely. She probably doesn't get invited to parties. Sure, she can throw her own, but her cronies are there to be cronies, not to be her friends. All she has is Diablo. Diablo can't tell her how pretty she is or how smart she is, or engage in an intelligent conversation wit her. Maleficent might have dedicated aids, but friends? Not really. Maybe she'd be more pleasant if she were invited to dinner once in a while. Sure, it's a little risky, but one does not start out life being evil - life shapes them to become that way, and they see themselves as heroes in their own version of the world.

If things weren't bad enough, Maleficent obsesses for 16 years over the whereabouts of Princess Aurora. If we thought she was unhappy before, imagine being in a dark castle by yourself and obsessing over taking revenge over that one thing that happened at a party this many years ago...that kind of obsessing can drive someone crazy (and in her case, crazy evil). Once Diablo is turned into a statue and her whole plan unravels, her last bit of humanity seems to escape her as she transforms into a dragon.

She is beautiful and terrifying...and no longer herself. All that is left of her is her manic desire to destroy and attack. It is actually rather sad - but it makes for great cinema. Maleficent was a slighted beauty queen that went off the deep end, and remains one of the best Disney villains of all time.

If you're a fan of Maleficent, you may be frustrated at the general lack of merchandise for her usually. Disney has shaken things up recently and is now offering more villains items (and they even went the designer doll route, as they did not too long ago). Here are a few of my favorites.

All of these items (and more) can be found at 

However, if none of these are really your style, and you're in the mood for hip threads, you should check out Threadless - Disney approved the site to allow random artists to come up with their own Disney Villains apparel. But hurry! These items won't be around for very long.

See you next week!

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