The first Disney animated movie I ever saw in a theater was Sleeping Beauty (or La Bella Durmiente). I remember it through a haze, but I remember it nonetheless. I was so young, probably about 8 years old. And here is the interesting thing. I saw the movie in Spanish, because I saw it at one of the beautiful teatros on La Gran Vía in Madrid.
Three things stood out for me and captured my imagination about this movie. The first two, in reverse order, were the three fairies (Flora, Fauna and Merriweather – Flora, Fauna y Primavera in España), and the music. The score, of course, was a variation Tchaikovsky’s ballet, yet having heard it in the movie first I will always love it in a special way. A good score is an uber important component of a movie. Is it possible to beat Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky? It would certainly be difficult. After seeing this movie, my Tía Mar bought me a 45 (that’s a vinyl record for those of you who don’t know) with a book incorporated into the cover, which only had Sleeping Beauty’s theme music and the lyrics to it in Spanish. I listened to it a MILLION times and still remember the words by heart…
¨Eres tú mi príncipe azul que yo soñé, Eres tú tus ojos me vieron con ternuras de amor, y al mirarme así el fuego encendió mi corazón, y mi ensoñación se hará realidad, y te adoraré como aconteció en mi sueño ideal.¨
I learned two big words in these lyrics, “ensoñación” and “aconteció”. I even looked them up in my father’s Spanish-English dictionary. If anyone could ever claim that watching movies is fruitless is wrong. From this Disney classic I learned a greater appreciation of classical music and improved my vocabulary. And this does not even include the lessons learned from the story itself.
But what was the first thing that stuck me so intensely about this movie? Maleficent! ¡Maléfica! She was so bad, so evil, so cold… and the moment you saw her you knew it. She was shapely yet shapeless in her evil – long, lean and horned! She was green* and yet possessed what should have been the classic features of beauty personified, and yet her ugly nature shone through. She was complex, angry. paranoid and insecure. And her name was, no is, the best name for a witch of all time. “Maleficent” – desirous of or causing evil. None of Disney’s other witches can touch her. She is aloof, poised and composed. And her demise, at the hands of the Prince in her form of a dragon… well that just says it all, doesn’t it.
I am excited to see the new Disney adaptation of this old witch.
Recently Walt Disney Studios announced that March 14, 2014 will be the US release date for Maleficent. This new adaptation of the story will star Angelina Jolie as the witch! The film will be live-action and is said to explore:
“…the origins of the evil fairy Maleficent and what led her to curse Princess Aurora in Disney’s animated classic Sleeping Beauty. Leading a team of visionary filmmakers known for creating and transporting audiences to new and exciting worlds, Academy Award®-winning production designer Robert Stromberg (Avatar, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and Oz The Great and Powerful) will direct with a script by Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Alice in Wonderland) Maleficent is produced by Joe Roth (Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and Oz The Great and Powerful).”
This sounds like an all star team direction and production team for certain. I am looking forward to seeing it, although March 2014 seems so far away. It will be fun, though, to watch and listen for the trailers, interviews and sound bytes as time passes. (I’ll do my best to bring them to you along the way.)
And so, I wait to see if Angelina Jolie as Maleficent will spark my daughters’ imaginations in the future, as much as the animated Maléfica did to mine in the past.
*It’s not easy being green!
I was not compensated in any way for writing this post. It is just a happy childhood memory shared, as sparked by an announcement.