The first movie has become one of the greatest blockbusters of the 21st century. All thanks to the performance by Angelina Jolie you can admire in these tattoos

It was a while coming, but it now seems that a filming date has been set for ‘Maleficent 2’. According to various medias, the film has already kicked into pre-production and will start filming in London this (early) April.

Maleficent’ (2014) was a new twist on ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (a fairytale by Charles Perrault first published in 1697 and retold by the Brothers Grimm in 1812) and its pre-production took an eternity: work began on the film in 2010 thanks to the fact they hired screenwriter Linda Woolverton, a sure fire thing in Disney since she is the one behind the multi-million dollar scripts for ‘The Lion King’ (1994) and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1991).

Then came the choice of the director. For most of 2011, Tim Burton was all on for getting behind yet another dark fable with a wealth of ambitious sub-texts (the value of feminism, above all). But in the end, he backed out mysteriously without giving any real reason why. So the director appeared in the form of newcomer Robert Stromberg, Oscar-winning screenwriter for ‘Avatar’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and the crew could finally move to England in June 2012 and start shooting.

Woolverton’s plot was something utterly new, telling the story of the princess Aurora (played by Elle Fanning) from the point of view of Maleficent (a memorable Angelina Jolie), the darkly mysterious fairy of the Moors who, at the baby girl’s christening, casts the curse of eternal slumber. The comes the film, all 180 minutes of it, that works perfectly, with Jolie’s amazing performance constantly stealing the scene.

‘Maleficent’ has earned high praise even from highbrow critics stateside, notoriously loathe to watch “family movies”. Maybe the reason is that Stromberg decided to give a “natural” feel to a movie destined for 3D cinema and bursting with astounding special effects. «I didn’t want the film to get taken over by digital effects so I begged the makeup artist Rick Baker to make Angelina look as true to life as possible, especially during her transformation from good fairy to evil creature.».

And there was no green screen for the outdoor scenes (the crew made the most of the lovely English countryside, particularly Buckinghamshire) and the indoor scenes are often quite down to earth. Then the performances of Jolie and Fanning – the female leads in the film – far outstrip those of the leading men (Kenneth Cranham as King Henry, Sharlto Copley as the villainous Stefan and Sam Riley, loyal ally of Maleficent as the crow Diaval) leading some to complain that it has too much of a feminist slant.

Kris Busching, Private Studio, New York, USA
Kris Busching, Private Studio, New York, USA

What distinguishes ‘Maleficent’ is that it is a vindication of motherhood where what matters is not who gives birth to the children, but rather who brings them up and loves them all their lives. A theme close to Jolie’s heart (in real life she and Brad Pitt have six children, three of whom were adopted). So she can well afford a little politically incorrect irony in the movie when, at a certain point Maleficent turns to little Aurora and grumbles “I don’t like children!”.

The films that achieve the greatest success are those which capture the public imagination with a variety of different themes thinly veiled as fairytale. And ‘Maleficent’ is certainly one of those. Not a masterpiece, yet not far off. And certainly the most memorable role of Angelina Jolie’s to date.