Finding the Motherhood Themes Within Disney's MaleficentDresden Shumaker
You may not realize that Maleficent, a fairytale featuring a story about a curse placed on a baby, would bring home some powerful “a-ha” motherhood moments … but the story turns. And then it hits you. It hits you pretty hard. Maleficent’s story could be any of our stories.
Once upon a time a mother was overextended. She was fighting allergies, up against a deadline at work, had agreed to bring in cupcakes to the book fair, and her cell phone had just chimed letting her know her checking account was reaching dangerously low levels. The mother was focusing on responding to an email marked urgent when a loud clang shattered her concentration. Without taking a pause, without counting to ten, without thinking at all, the mother yelled. It was a big yell, a scary yell, a yell that as soon as it began to leave her mouth she wished she could pull it back.
Maleficent will resonate a lot with moms who have experienced moments they wished they could pull back. That time you yelled first, that time you punished a little too harshly, that time you acted based on emotions instead of the situation.
Disney explains the concept of the film by saying, “Maleficent, the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the classic Sleeping Beauty reveals the events that hardened Maleficent’s heart and drove her to curse the baby, Aurora, only to later realize that the child may hold the key to peace in the land.”
We begin the story of Maleficent before there ever was a princess. We begin when Maleficent was just a girl herself and we follow her story and learn just how it was that someone could find herself in the moment where putting a curse on a baby seemed like the solution. Something just maybe she wishes she could take back.
First-time director, Robert Stromberg, believes if you boil down the meaning of this film it would be about “human beings trying to find the essence of true love.” When I had a chance to speak with Robert last week he shared that he thought a lot about his daughter while making this film and how strong and powerful that kind of love is. Robert explained, “Hopefully there’s a message in this movie that can open up some young ones’ eyes to see a love in their parents that they didn’t see before.”
I was deeply moved by many scenes in the film, unexpectedly moved. It is visually stunning and I was swept away by the additional story elements that were added in its creation. I was especially charmed and awed by the creatures within the moors. Robert’s background as a production designer and visual effects guru was evident as every inch of the screen was filled with eye candy.
Maleficent opens today (May 30th), has a running time of 97 minutes, and is rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images. I think if your kids have enjoyed films like Harry Potter or The Wizard of Oz they are ready for Maleficent. If you are unsure, watch it yourself first — then take the kids: Be the “P” in PG.