When I saw Disney’s Sleeping Beauty for the first time as a little girl, I was completely captivated. I loved watching the fairies muddle through baking a cake and sewing a dress, Briar Rose and Prince Phillip’s first encounter in the forest, and the epic fight at the end of the film. But, most of all, I loved Maleficent. She could curse a person sixteen years in advance and turn into a dragon! In my mind, that made her the best fairy tale villain.
I was obviously not alone in that way of thinking, because 55 years later, Disney released a live action retelling of the fairy tale. But this time, they focused on Maleficent, one of the most beloved fairy tale villains. Maleficent strives to do what Wicked, the best-selling novel and the hit Broadway musical, did for the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz: tell the villain’s story, shed light on their motivations, and bring compassion to an otherwise evil character. Critical reviews so far have been mixed, but audiences seem united in finding Maleficent’s story, and Angelina Jolie’s performance as her, mesmerizing.