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Rather than delivering a live-action remake of Sleeping Beauty, Disney has taken more of a Wicked approach with Maleficent in focusing its attention on the villain of the story. As screenwriter Linda Woolverton describes the concept in the new featurette, Maleficent is "a reinvention, not just a retelling of the same story." It's a risk, no doubt, as it does involve tinkering with a beloved classic. But from everything we've seen, including some of the thrilling footage revealed in this featurette, that risk may very well pay off. In the latest promotional video, stars Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning, writer Linda Woolverton and director Robert Stromberg discuss revising the classic story from a new angle.
Those familiar with Sleeping Beauty might agree that Maleficent is a pretty underdeveloped villain. In the animated film, she shows up at Aurora's christening, interrupting the fairies as they're bestowing their gifts on the baby. Some words are exchanged, and it's evident no one's happy Maleficent's there. And why should they be? She's green and horned and really tall, after all. Maleficent goes to make her exit, but pauses first to curse baby Aurora with death. It's a delayed curse that won't go into effect until the child's sixteenth birthday. I assume that's for dramatic effect. But actually, that assumption is part of the issue here as we're never really given much of an explanation as to why she gave Aurora sixteen years to live. And did she just happen to interrupt the fairies before the third gift was bestowed, or was that part of the plan?
And what's Maleficent's problem anyway? What are her motives other than being evil? The movie never really gets into that, but then again, the story is your standard fairytale -- actual fairies included -- complete with a plot that involves a love-at-first-song romance between Aurora and her betrothed. As lovely as the tale is, it never really digs that deep.
So there's definitely room for the tale to be fleshed out and for the world to be broadened and explored. From what Woolverton reveals in the featurette, Maleficent will delve into the title character's past, leading up to the mentioned curse and what follows. And this time, I assume that instead of watching young Aurora be raised in secret by three loving fairies, we'll get to see what Maleficent was up to all those years. Will it explain the nature of her curse? Will the title character's history justify her actions or at the very least allow us to understand them? And is it possible that not everything happened quite the way we thought it did in Sleeping Beauty? We'll find out when the film hits theaters May 30! In the meantime, Jolie promises that this is "a very beautiful story" and different from what people are going to expect.
In other news, those who want a chance to win a trip to the world premiere of Maleficent can enter the "Embrace Your Inner Evil" Sweepstakes. Fans are asked to recreate Maleficent's laugh and post a video on Instagram using #MaleficentLaughSweeps. More details on that here.