November 23, 2014

Don't Rush To Judgement: Maleficent (2013)

Judgement. At some point in our lives, we are all guilty of it. This doesn't make it ok, we already know, but at least we know that we're not alone. The only problem is, when we judge other people it really reflects poorly on us instead; especially when we rush to judgments about someone whom we've never interacted with ourselves. The truth is we can't help but judge. From an early age we are taught by example that judging is just what we and human beings are supposed to do.

Look at the old Walt Disney tales, like the animated film Sleeping Beauty (1959), where we are first introduced to the villain known as Maleficent. As children we see things in black and white so we rarely challenge the notion of disliking the chosen villain like the character Maleficent, but we also never take pause to understand why the villain is the way that she is. Not to make any excuses for anyone's behavior, but we do the same in real life. The live action re-imaging of the character Maleficent in the movie Maleficent (2014), is a great example of why we shouldn't rush to judgement.

In the movie Maleficent (2014), an elderly Princess Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty) tells the story of known villain Maleficent, whom she only sees her good nature in and views as a protective God Mother. Little does she know, initially, that it was her God Mother who cursed her at birth so that on her 16th birthday she would fall into the legendary coma that later claims Sleeping Beauty's life until she is kissed by true love.  Although Maleficent originally placed the curse on Princess Aurora out of revenge against King Stefan (whom broke her heart and robbed Maleficent of her wings), while watching Princess Aurora grow over the course of 16 years, she too fell in love with the girl who was destined to be the one unifying bridge between the Moors and the humans. Unfortunately, by the time she realized the error of her rash actions, it was too late, the spell was permanent and could only be undone by true love's kiss...something Maleficent no longer believed existed. Until, her kiss, not Prince Phillip's, awakens Princess Aurora.

From the beginning of the movie, Maleficent is painted in a much different light than from what was previously depicted of the character in the original Sleeping Beauty (1959) movie. She starts out as a happy and kind fairy who serves as a protector of the all the Moors. Despite her dark and ominous garb, she wasn't born evil, like many may have imagined based on judging her actions of placing the spell on Sleeping Beauty. We learn that her actions were prompted in direct retaliation of being wronged herself by King Stefan. This movie is the other side of the story, which makes it much harder to harshly judge Maleficent as a character; especially when her God Daughter is the one telling the story. Maleficent is painted in a much more sympathetic light.

In the end, we learn two pivotal things as a result of this re-imaging of the character Maleficent. First, Maleficent, much like people in our own lives, is capable of both good and bad deeds, the results of which are likely prompted by events that have occurred in their lives. Secondly, because it is possible that someone's actions could be the direct result of being wronged, we should probably refrain from judgement until we walk a mile in their shoes. Again, I'm not condoning putting spells on people or any form of vigilantism, but what I am saying is that if we all take the time to get to know someone, then we are likely to see the humanity within and with that connection we will probably be less inclined to judge their behavior because we are all capable of both good and bad.

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