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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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Martyrdom of John the Baptist: The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The “voice crying in the desert” did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth. But why? What possesses a man that he would give up his very life? 
<p>This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37). It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John’s life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation or repentance, of salvation.</p> American Catholic Blog Just as my children become members of my family when I bring them into the world, so too our baptism incorporates us into the family of the Church. This supernatural membership prevents us from being orphans who have to fend for themselves in the spiritual wilderness.

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