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Maleficent as Sleeping Beauty interpretation (the shadow)

By on 17 June 2021

Maleficent, the Dark Fairy

Maleficent as Sleeping Beauty Interpretation

The evil fairy Maleficent as the good fairy?

The Disney Films with Angelina Jolie

Maleficent is the name of the evil fairy in Disney's animated film "Sleeping Beauty". The Disney films "Maleficent" 1 (2014) and 2 (2019) are an interpretation of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty and retell it. In this, Maleficent, the evil fairy, is portrayed by Angelina Jolie in the leading role as the good fairy.

Fight against injustice and for love

Maleficent is portrayed as a strong fairy who has fallen into anger and negativity due to evil circumstances. Nevertheless, she also has a strong love for the princess, who is called "Aurora" in the films. She protects the young woman from evil and fights with all her might for the victory of true love.

Go straight to the start of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty with "Maleficent" as the other story:
Sleeping Beauty and the Wholeness of the Twelve (Start with Episode 7)

Maleficent as 13th fairy and the shadow of Sleeping Beauty

If in the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty the thirteenth fairy can be interpreted as the shadow of the princess/queen, the Disney films go deeper with this theme. They explain why Maleficent has become "evil" and show how her strength ultimately helps bring about good.(Although Maleficent is strictly speaking the fourth fairy here, four represents the checksum of 13 and is considered the unlucky number in China, for example.)

So that they give a deeper understanding of the situation of the wounded woman, as it is already the theme in the first traditions (see Inanna and the felling of the tree and Lilith). In addition, they also re-establish the connection to the woman's very own power and point to the hidden resources. Thus they contribute to an integration of the collective shadow.

Overview of the content of the Maleficent films

Maleficent 1 

Two kingdoms

The story is about two kingdoms. The human kingdom is ruled by King Stefan, the fairy kingdom by Maleficent. Stefan became king by deceiving Maleficent. He had sworn love to her, but then drugged her on her 16th birthday and cut off her wings. Maleficent must now walk the earth and grows a hedge of thorns around the fairy kingdom. In revenge against Stefan, she later curses Stefan's daughter Aurora, who was born to him by another woman.

Maleficent and the Fairy Kingdom in Peril

In the fairy kingdom of the moors everything is alive and animated. Animals can speak and every plant has a little fairy. Aurora is educated outside the castle by three fairies, but they are overwhelmed with the task. Maleficent keeps an eye on her and protects her from misfortune. That is why Aurora thinks she is her fairy godmother and wants to live with her in the fairy kingdom. But there is a bitter war between the fairy kingdom and the human kingdom.

The fulfilment and lifting of the curse

But when Aurora realises that she is a princess and Maleficent had cursed her, she flees to her parents' castle. It is her 16th birthday and she promptly gets into the room where a spindle is hidden. Inevitably, she pricks herself on it and falls into a deep sleep.
Maleficent, bitterly regretting her curse, summons Prince Phillip from the neighbouring kingdom, who was looking for Aurora anyway. But his kiss unfortunately fails to wake the princess. Maleficent is deadly sad and therefore kisses Aurora gently. Surprisingly, Aurora wakes up.

War and victory

Meanwhile, a battle rages in the castle. Stefan uses the iron weapons he forged against Maleficent because he knows she cannot stand iron. Fortunately, however, Aurora manages to free Maleficent's wings from an iron cage, and so they get back to Maleficent. Now she is invincible and defeats King Stefan.
She then makes Aurora the queen of the fairy kingdom.

Maleficent 2

The wicked mother-in-law

Prince Phillip is the son of King Stefan's sister Ingrith. He wants to marry Aurora, but Maleficent is firmly against it. Against Maleficent's will, Aurora goes to the prince's castle and falls into the clutches of his treacherous mother Ingrith. She locks Aurora up, dresses her in tight dresses and corsets and gives her elaborate hairstyles. Aurora does not feel well. But now the wedding is announced. The whole fairy kingdom marches up, but Ingrith has planned a trap. She wants to wipe out the assembled inhabitants of the fairy kingdom with iron powder in order to rule over the kingdom of the moors.

The hidden fairy kingdom in the underworld

Maleficent fights for the fairy kingdom and is mortally wounded. Now other winged fairies come and take her down to their kingdom under the earth, from which Maleficent originally came. They help Maleficent in the fight against the realm of power on earth. Maleficent rises again like the phoenix from the ashes. The latter was the supreme prince of the fairy kingdom, and she thus becomes his successor.

Victory of the fairies and unification of the two realms

Finally, the fairies are victorious and the unjust rule of the king is overcome. After Maleficent has enchanted Ingrith into a goat, nothing stands in the way of the wedding.
Now Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip are finally united and with them the two kingdoms.

Interpretations and remarks

The two realms: male and female

The fairy kingdom symbolises the feminine side of existence, living matter. It is always in danger of being subjugated and enslaved by power and violence (symbolised by iron).
The kingdom represents the masculine side, consciousness. The question is: does this serve power or love? (S. Masculine and feminine, the two primordial forces of creation and The conscious and the unconscious: king and queen.).

War: Power instead of love

The power of the feminine, which manifests in the fairy realm, is the power of life and love. When the feminine is suppressed and exploited, love dies. Then power rises instead (symbolised by the "evil" fairy, evil queen or witch; see. The Ego and the Self).

The fight against evil: the ego and the shadows

The evil King Stefan and his sister, the scheming Queen Ingrith represent the ego, the identity of power represent.
The resources that are Shadow locked away and bound are symbolised by the fairies in the underworld. They are integrated by fighting for good together with Maleficent.
In this way, evil is overcome in the human kingdom and love comes to the fore in the end.
Now Prince Philip and Princess Aurora can finally marry and the two kingdoms are united.

Maleficent and the Shadow of Sleeping Beauty

The two Disney films bring interesting twists to the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty and address the role of women in a contemporary way.

The Iron and the Bondage

Iron symbolises the power against which the fairy kingdom, as the feminine side of existence, cannot stand. For iron, which is extracted from ore (EARTH) with FIRE, symbolises power through oppression and violence. Where these come to bear, love dies (see The negative couple dynamic FIRE).

Maleficent, the Dark Fairy

The first film, "The Dark Fairy" tells why Maleficent became the evil fairy. The reason was that her young lover, out of a desire for power, put her to sleep and deviously separated her wings from her body. He then brought them to the king and became his successor.
The cut wings are an image of Maleficent being separated from her spiritual power (symbolised by the wings) through abusive deflowering. This is how Stefan obtained "kingship" over the young woman and the power of her love (see The Woman as Goddess and the Man as Her Hero-King).

The same fate then befalls Princess Aurora, only indicated by the stabbing of the spindle. (The turning of the spindle stands for intoxication and the sleep of death for deep unconsciousness). The fact that Prince Phillip cannot wake Aurora with his kiss also speaks for itself. He is not yet ready for true love.

Maleficent and the Powers That Be

The second film, "The Powers That Be", now depicts the problem. Prince Phillip is in the grip of his mother-witch and therefore not free to truly love. That's why Maleficent has to protect Aurora again against treacherous attacks. This is now the opportunity for the whole realm of the underworld and the shadows to come to light. By fighting for good, the inhabitants of the shadows are "redeemed" and contribute to the victory (as in the fairy tale of the Iron Hen or in the epic The Lord of the Rings). Thus the shadows are integrated.

Now finally comes the happy ending, symbolised by the wedding of prince and princess.

[S. Maleficent, the Dark Fairy as Goddess of Fate and The Holy Wedding].

Maleficent as Sleeping Beauty Interpretation "The Story Told Differently"

In the interpretations of the seven episodes of Sleeping Beauty, the Maleficent film adaptations serve as a source of inspiration for "The Story Told Differently" for these reasons. The story is told by Maleficent-Malena.

This is the start of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty with "Maleficent" as another story:
Sleeping Beauty and the Wholeness of the Twelve (Start with Episode 7)

The 7 episodes of Sleeping Beauty-Maleficent in comparison

For an overview of the parallels between "Sleeping Beauty" and "Maleficent", see this table: 

Sleeping Beauty-Maleficent juxtaposition

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