Tag Archives: imelda staunton

Maleficent: 9 STARS

* In Feminist Film Star news I found this cool website about The Headless Women of Hollywood. No it is not new, maybe you had already seen it, but I had not so shut up. Basically it’s about the staggering number of movie posters which feature women with no heads, a practice I find offputting and politically horrific in equal measure.*

(SPOILERS. I mean it’s essentially the plot of Sleeping Beauty, so get with the program people, but there are some important and interesting plot changes so be prepared. CN for women being drugged and violated and I guess CN for wings being sawn off and fairies being burned by iron. I kind of doubt that anyone would be triggered by that but I’m not here to judge you, I’m here to judge Disney)

Aurora: Let us tell an old story anew

Sleeping Beauty from the witch’s point of view. That’s a great idea Disney, bravo. I mean you still never say witch (much like in Frozen, and don’t think I’m not coming back for you Frozen) which I’m gonna say is your fault America, but still it’s a good idea. These fairy people are led by a woman with horns and massive wings and when she is attacked by her traitorous bastard boyfriend she spends the rest of the film fucking shit up. Also she has a dragon. Which is cool. This is a Disney movie, and everyone in it is both intensely beautiful and very very white, all of the accents are insane, and I did not enjoy what they did to Imelda Staunton in making her and her fairy friends both very ungrateful and very stupid, but basically I loved it. I would really like to follow Angelina Jolie into battle.

STAR: The Bechdel Test

STAR: Developed female relationships

(Maleficent and Aurora have a great relationship. This film does that ‘true love can be found in non-romantic love between women not just in pretty boys kissing pretty girls they don’t know’ thing so much better than Frozen (told you I was coming back for you Frozen). Let me tell you for why. Firstly, they actually test out the kiss, they actually prove that the pretty boy/girl thing wouldn’t work, they don’t just let the boy get unfortunately lost in a snowstorm so the loving woman has to step in like a pathetic replacement kisser. Also the two women do not have the same exact face. And they actually spend cute bonding time together throughout the film. I am really going to try and make the rest of this a no-Frozen-hatred zone but frankly that would not be representative of what my life is like)

STAR: Non- stereotyped Female Characters

STAR: Developed, prominent female characters

(Yes. Absolutely. I mean I didn’t appreciate the over-zealous voice-over at the end that told me that Maleficent was ‘both a hero and a villain’ (dun dun DUN) but some genuine character development where a character changes her mind, has bad days, goes through trauma, and  you know leads her nation to victory, is appreciated. I genuinely think Angelina Jolie gives the performance of her life here, no sarcasm. I loved her crazy smiles, I loved her little magical jokes, and I loved her heartfelt love for a little girl who she cursed at birth and who it is never suggested is her biological daughter, which I liked. I did not like that Aurora’s birth mum just died off screen, very much Lady Macbeth style, while her husband goes mad, and I did not like the fairies, as has been previously stated. They act like Maleficent is super evil after she has literally been mutilated by the king they are bowing to. They suck)

STAR: No Excessive Air of Misogyny

STAR: No rigid adherence to gender norms

(Ok, so I’m a little on the fence here. I mean, the fairies are led by a woman, in an explicitly military capacity, and no one saves her, she saves everyone. So that’s good. Also she’s a mother figure, but a fierce one who wears a lot of black and has horns, you don’t see that a lot. On the other hand I don’t think suggesting that women are more magical and in tune with nature than men is a good idea. I mean yes the magical people are definitely way better, stronger and morally superior to the human men but it’s still not great to set up gendered binaries where we suggest that women and men are super different. So an ambiguous star, but a star none the less)

STAR: No Excessive Female Exposure or Sexualisation

STAR: No objectification of the female body

(Yay for children’s movies! Is there more to say? No? Yay!)

STAR: No Gratuitous or Trivialising Scenes of Rape or Male Violence Against Women

No threat of male violence against women

(Ok so there is violence. But it is primarily fantasy violence, and she really does give as good as she gets, in the medium of dragons and massive wings and magic. So that is good. However Stefan, prick that he is, does drug Maleficent and when she is sleeping he cuts off her wings. Which is horrible and has horrible emotional consequences for everyone involved)

Bonus Points. 1 for female writer Linda Woolverton, good work Linda. She was also a writer on the Lion King! good work again Linda. 1 for women in traditionally masculine roles aka general and political leader. And 1 for women in power, essentially for the same reasons. Maleficent is so much better than everyone at everything. And that is cool. All in all, Maleficent is better than Frozen. And that’s all I have to say on the matter.

*A note on the original Sleeping Beauty. Yes it is of the older genre of anodyne and conservative Disney movies, but I watched it until I broke the video when I was little and I wasn’t brainwashed into wanting to be a princess? I just don’t think it’s helpful to imply that all little girls’ minds will be molded by everything they watch. I actually wanted to be Merryweather when I was little, the fat little blue fairy, cos she had character. So there #feministfrombirth*