The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tim Burton's Maleficent.

Maleficent is probably the greatest villain in the pantheon of Disney movie villains. She's scary, dignified, classy, a beast. She has a terrific design, and was cast well. She carries herself with an aura of pure evil. None of the other movie villains come close to even touching her. There's Maleficent, and then there's everyone else. She's a big part of the reason why "Sleeping Beauty" is my favorite classic Disney movie.

She's also been very well utilized in the "Kingdom Hearts" series. Her "legacy" is added to very organically there. Whether she's leading the other villains, or engaged in her old cold war with Xehanort to determine who the Big Bad truly is. This series has used her wonderfully, and I look forward to more installments.


Then I read that Tim Burton wants to make a live action movie all about Maleficent. Personally, I think this is a very bad idea. He hasn't made a good movie in a very long time, and I don't trust him with this material.

But, more importantly, I hear that he wants to tell her story. Well, I like my villains being humanized as much as the next person. But, Maleficent is not someone who should be humanized. She is the mistress of all evil. She commands all the powers of Hell. She is not Demona. She is not Magneto. We don't know where she came from, we don't know how she got this way, and we're better off not knowing.

I think it would diminish her if we got some sob story about how King Stefan persecuted her, or whatever Burton wants to do with Maleficent. It will completely shatter her mystique.

But the real reason why this is even being considered is because "Wicked" turned out to be a blockbuster hit. Now, I like "Wicked," but I don't want to see Maleficent's character compromised to piggyback on what "Wicked" did. The Wicked Witch of the West is a very different character, and there are seeds of a backstory between her and Glinda in the story. The Wicked Witch of the West lends herself to this sort of thing far better. Maleficent is pretty much a female Satan figure. You look at her and that tells you all you need to know. She shouldn't be humanized because she is truly inhuman.

A character who is Pure Evil is exceedingly difficult to pull off and keep interesting, but Maleficent pulls it off, and I would not want to see her robbed of this.

So, Mr. Burton, I hope you reconsider. And if not, I hope Maleficent manages to use all the powers of Hell to keep this project in Development Hell.

1 comment:

  1. I think my views on Burton are a bit more positive than yours and my views on Sleeping Beauty are a bit more negative. But I still really like Maleficent and I agree that this idea doesn't really have legs. Maleficent is evil because she is evil incarnate. Pretty much end of story.

    That being said, I do think you can flesh out a villain without necessarily making them sympathetic. I still don't want that to be attempted with Maleficent, but I think the distinction is important. A while back on S8, I was saying that I'd like to see Sevarius fleshed out a bit more and I think part of the reason a few people said that they wouldn't was because they thought I meant we should learn that Sevarius raised orphaned kittens or read to the elderly on Thursdays or something more realistic and less lame but still likeable. I don't need to feel like Sevarius is even partly a good person. What I'd like is to feel like he is more than the stereotypical mad scientist. Specifically, I'd like to understand why he is the way he is. And I think I can know that and still think he's scum. Take Thailog (please) for example. Guy's a bastard in every sense of the word. I know exactly what made him that way and I can even feel a little bad about the fact that he probably didn't have a chance at turning out any other way. But knowing hw he got to be who he is doesn't stop me from hating the guy, or loving to hate him.