Picture: (c) 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Director: Joachim Rønning. Actors: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Harris Dickinson. Length: 119 min.

The classic fairy tale of the Sleeping Beauty continues in this superb Disney modernization, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. The film is the second part of Maleficent released in 2014.


In French writer Charles Perrault’s fairy tale of 1697, princess Aurora is cursed by a wicked fairy to one day pierce her hand with a spindle and die. Aurora’s faith is saved by a good fairy, who alters the spell. Death is replaced by sleep, and after 100 years the princess is to be awakened by a King’s son.

Disney adapted the story for its state-of-art animation Sleeping Beauty in 1959, where the chief animator, Marc Davis, designed Maleficent “like a giant vampire bat to create a feeling of menace.” “I sat down and went through a lot of material I had, including a book of Czechoslovakian religious paintings. There was this figure with the red and black drapery in the back that looked like flames that I thought would be great to use. I took the idea of the collar partly from a bat, and the horns looked like a devil,” he said.

According to the assistant animator, Burny Mattinson, Maleficent’s demeanor was purposely controlled and quiet and her dialogue was going to “do her acting for us.“ “The reason for this was that we wanted to use those moments of when she exploded as accents that would frighten the audience. We kept her sweet, nice and controlled and then let her blow up on purpose,” he said.

It was no accident that the voice behind the wicked stepmother in Disney’s Cinderella (1950), Eleanor Audley, was also cast to bring life into Maleficent as well.

When Angelina Jolie put on the horns of Maleficent in the first part, the viewer was transcended through the many layers of the previous adaptations. Jolie’s manners were controlled and the dialogue, intonation and tone resembled the work of Audley.

While the plot contained elements of the original fairy tale, the story was ingeniously rewritten by Linda Woolverton who penned a multilayered backstory for the characters.

In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Woolverton and her co-writers return with more details, a story that cleverly opens up, and we get to truly understand and experience the motivations behind the villainess’ actions, who to some appears good and to others, bad.

Jolie stays faithful to her character’s traits, but while supporting the vision of the new director Joachim Rønning who wanted to create even a bigger film than the first one. (The first one was directed by his colleague, Robert Stromberg.)

In that, the whole cast and film crew succeeds. The setting is more vivid and the magical creatures of the Moors feel more lifelike.

Ellen Fanning, who plays Aurora, has become a young adult between the films. A 14-year-old giggling girl is now 20, and there’s more emphasis on her dialogue, manners and action.

Michelle Pfeiffer, who had a blooming career in the ‘90s, creates a cold and cunning Queen Ingrith—the perfect antagonist to dislike.

Without getting into the details of the plot of this superb fairy tale, I am going to leave you with recent thoughts of Angelina Jolie:

”If this film says anything, it’s about embracing your differences. Being your true self,” she said.

In that, the film succeeds as well.

‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ premieres in cinemas October 16.