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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Maleficent

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Angelina Jolie stars in a scene from the movie "Maleficent."
Even an iconic villainess may not be all bad.

That's the message of "Maleficent" (Disney). This live-action, feminist retelling of the Magic Kingdom's 1959 animated feature "Sleeping Beauty" seeks to rehabilitate the original film's thoroughly wicked fairy godmother.

Along with its moral shadings, however, director Robert Stromberg 3-D fantasy introduces other novelties that may not sit well with romantics -- or with those committed to the traditional family. His picture also has enough dark imagery and bloodless battling to make it unsuitable for the smallest moviegoers.

Angelina Jolie takes up the title character once voiced by Eleanor Audley. As opening scenes show us, Maleficent -- portrayed in youth by Isobelle Molloy -- was initially a good sprite. In fact, she served as the principal protectress of her enchanted homeland, The Moors, a territory bordered by -- and under constant threat of conquest from -- a human kingdom full of aggressive warriors.

But an unlikely romance with Stefan (Toby Regbo), a solitary human intruder into The Moors, was to end in a cruel, ambition-fuelled betrayal that would change Maleficent's whole character, leaving her bitter and vengeful.

Maleficent's opportunity to mete out her longed-for retribution comes when Stefan (now Sharlto Copley), whose act of treachery toward her has placed him on the throne of the human realm, becomes the father of a baby girl.

At the infant's christening, Maleficent places a curse on the child, dooming her to fall into an endless slumber on the day before her 16th birthday. Only "true love's kiss" -- a phenomenon Maleficent believes does not exist -- will be able to awaken the lass.

Yet, as Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) grows up, her grace and innocent goodness melt Maleficent's heart. So much so, that -- aided by Diaval (Sam Riley), the shape-shifting crow who serves as her assistant and scout, the repentant Maleficent strives to thwart the fulfillment of her own malediction.

As scripted by Linda Woolverton, "Maleficent" can be viewed as an honorable conversion story warning against a hunger for power and a thirst for revenge. Yet it startlingly subverts its source material in a way that can't be specified for fear of a spoiler but that registers as vaguely anti-male and anti-marriage.

The film contains some harsh action violence. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Paul Miki and Companions: Nagasaki, Japan, is familiar to Americans as the city on which the second atomic bomb was dropped, immediately killing over 37,000 people. Three and a half centuries before, 26 martyrs of Japan were crucified on a hill, now known as the Holy Mountain, overlooking Nagasaki. Among them were priests, brothers and laymen, Franciscans, Jesuits and members of the Secular Franciscan Order; there were catechists, doctors, simple artisans and servants, old men and innocent children—all united in a common faith and love for Jesus and his Church. 
<p>Brother Paul Miki, a Jesuit and a native of Japan, has become the best known among the martyrs of Japan. While hanging upon a cross, Paul Miki preached to the people gathered for the execution: “The sentence of judgment says these men came to Japan from the Philippines, but I did not come from any other country. I am a true Japanese. The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ. I certainly did teach the doctrine of Christ. I thank God it is for this reason I die. I believe that I am telling only the truth before I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you to become happy. I obey Christ. After Christ’s example I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as a fruitful rain.” </p><p>When missionaries returned to Japan in the 1860s, at first they found no trace of Christianity. But after establishing themselves they found that thousands of Christians lived around Nagasaki and that they had secretly preserved the faith. Beatified in 1627, the martyrs of Japan were finally canonized in 1862.</p> American Catholic Blog By way of analogy, we are taught that we all have the same sun shining on us and we all have the same rain falling on us. It is how we deal with sun and rain, how we deal with the happy and the not-so-happy things of life that causes our interior weather. Basically, we do it to ourselves.

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