Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Maleficent and the Fairies of Sleeping Beauty

Article by Ty Hulse

I'm crazy excited about the upcoming film "Maleficent"

One of the things that excites me so much about this is that it's Robert Stromberg's directorial debut; The concept artist for "Hunger Games," and the Matt Painter for films like "The Golden Compass," and "Pan's Labyrinth," as well as many, many others.

It makes me all warm and tingly inside when Hollywood actually recognizes that artists are creative people with amazing skills, something they seem to forget all too often.

The movie also has a good line up of Concept and Storyboard artists which is pretty exciting as well so visually this film should be a big win, filled with beautiful beautiful eye candy.

Of course movies are at the end of the day a story but they have that covered as well with one of the writers being Linda Woolverton. The writer of such stories as; 2010 version of "Alice in Wonderland," "Mulan," "The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast," and many more great Disney films is writing it. Writers are historically more important to creating a hit film then any other role, outside of director after all so as long as a movie has a good writer and director it's likely going to be good.

Of course the hazard of being a folklorist is that every time I see anything I begin to think about the nature of the characters in fairy tales and I've always found the character of the 'wicked' fairy in the "Sleeping Beauty" stories fascinating, in large part because she's really no different from the "Good" Fairies.

Of course I'm not a fairy tale purist, I believe that the purpose of fairy tales is to change, to adapt with society, so I love Disney's fairy tale movies because it's interesting to see the take of modern writers on these stories. Still, I'm always tempted to say something about the original stories, so here it is.

Fairies have multiple natures and can easily change from one form to the other, so when people forgot them they tended to over react to the offence, cursing people to die and so forth.

There's much more too the slighted fairy's curse in "Sleeping Beauty" then just the death of a Princess, however, because at the time the story was originally told spinning was an act of magic. Jacob Grimm stated that it was the means by which a woman could become equal to or greater than any god, because through it one could spin the fate of everyone and everything.

So by preventing people from spinning in the 'Sleeping Beauty's' kingdom, the slighted fairy is effectively taking away people's magic, their ability to control their fate... Something far worse than killing one little Princess.

What I love most about animation is the intensive amount of detail which goes into it. Like all good folktales it's the result of many different people, many different thoughts and ideas.

So over time the story and the art work transforms, changing mood and form. Looking at the early concept art of Maleficent from way back when I can really see how much thought and work went into making the final beautiful and scary Mistress of Evil which appeared on screen.


Amy said...

Great post, I'm excited for this film too! I've always found the wicked fairy character fascinating as well. Also, I didn't know the thing about spinning wheels being considered magic and spinning fate, that's really interesting. And you're right, it gives the ban on spinning a lot more context!