Robert Stromberg Killed the Best Cinematic Villain Once and For All

In a PC world it is hard to believe that the film industry would remain untouched. Empowerment is all the rage, which honestly, I’m completely for. However, I’m also for seeing the world as it is and after watching Maleficent, I’m disappointed. Director Robert Stromberg and accomplice, writer Linda Woolverton, destroyed Disney’s greatest villain… for good.

I’d like to preface what I’m about to present with the following disclaimer: I enjoyed the movie. Sure, the script wasn’t the best, but Angelina Jolie was as fabulous as always. The score wasn’t too shabby, either. The major issue I had with the film was a slaughter resulting in something worse than death. No matter how great Jolie’s acting was, and no matter how beautifully cinematic the film was, I will never enjoy a kind Maleficent. It just doesn’t fit.

As a child, Disney’s 1959 ‘Sleeping Beauty’ animated Maleficent struck me. The very idea of her made me quake in fear. She haunted my nightmares in the truest sense of the word “haunted” and even though I may be slightly exaggerating, she was just about the only truly unredeemable Disney character – she wasn’t the only one, of course, because Cruella DeVille hated puppies. Hating puppies is an unforgivable offense. From her voice, to her stature, to her effortless dispensing of curses, Maleficent taught children that evil things exist. Sometimes, the world isn’t the kindest place and sometimes people are out to get you. Her lessons were dark and slightly morbid but they were also true and necessary. They taught children that, even in the darkest dark, a light can be found and the evil dragon can be slain. 

Often times, adults underestimate children, so there’s an information gap – a certain type of coddling. It becomes more and more clear that parents want to shield their kids from the evils of the world. Positive lessons are taught, but a new generation of naive hopefuls are looking forward to having their hopes dashed. I’m really not trying to be the bearer of bad news, or even worse, a cynic, but a generation of children will now remember Maleficent as the ‘good witch’.

Stromberg and Woolverton altered Aurora’s (Sleeping Beauty’s) life by taking away her prince charming and giving her a positive female role model. When I put it that way, it becomes really hard to stand by my belief that Maleficent should have remained evil. It’s good — no — great that Disney is teaching young girls that they are more important than the love they receive from their significant other; but surely they could have done it some other way? In fact, hadn’t they told their audience just that in 2013’s ‘Frozen’? And what’s to say this won’t spark a new wave of Disney live-action rewrites?

I’m starting to disappear down a rabbit hole, I know, but personally I think that the same goal could have been accomplished without taking away all that makes Maleficent evil. The added backstory made her character more compelling but the movie seemed to demonize men in a way that was unfair to them as a gender. I’m in favor of empowerment and realizing that you should be your own hero and/or someone you truly know and care about can be your hero as well, but not if it means demonizing an entire gender while deconstructing one of history’s greatest cinematic villains.

What do you think about the redesign of Disney’s Maleficent? I’d love to hear your opinions in comment section below!


  • <cite class="fn">Katie Hogan</cite>

    I completely agree with everything – apart from the film being good. I point blank do not see the point of these live action rehash films. They strip bare the brilliance and beauty of the animations that came before them. Why do the makers see the need to redo stories that were fine the way they were. I worry for such brilliant villains as Ursula (my favourite) and Jafar.

    I agree and understand the part about empowering young young and women, Disney needs that. But, yes it could have been done differently. Hopefully they can do this without having to remake all our treasured Disney films.

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