Sunday, June 8, 2014

Many Messages of Maleficent -- Mostly About Hope (UPDATED 6/22 WITH LINK TO WOLVERTON INTERVIEW)

Emily Dickinson wrote: "Hope is the thing with feathers."
Writer Linda Woolverton proves it!
Woolverton's script is an amazing update on the great character Maleficent. Gal Power drives the story. Guys are side-kicks, love interests, and complications. Here's link to an in-depth Q&A with Woolverton --- SPOLIER ALERT, see the film BEFORE you read this interview

And who better to play this title role than our wondrous Angelina Jolie. She doesn't just fly in the movie, she flies for real....(planes in real life at least)!

Fearless; Femme Fatale; Assassin; Dame (of the British type); Humanitarian, Mom.
She can also ride horses, throw knives, lock and load a variety of weapons, change diapers...
AND look glamorous after 11 hours on an airplane.
Seriously, is there anything she can't do???

Saw this wild ride of a movie in a local theatre packed with diverse and lively crowd for 10AM Saturday matinee. Two guys in their 20s on my right. A big family in the same row. Two middle-aged gals on my left. The film brought out Angelina Jolie fans, Disney fans, couples, singles, groups of all sorts. Clearly there was wide appeal AND the crowd applauded at the end!!!.
This film shimmered with something I rarely get at the movies these days --- HOPE!

I love going to the movies -- in a theatre -- with a crowd (and a big tub of buttered popcorn). Yes, we have lots of ways to see films -- but there is something very visceral about the ritual of being in a dark, cave-like space, with other members of the tribe, entranced by the flickering light before us, and getting lost in a story. The best storytellers didn't just entertain -- they taught us life lessons. While I love a big action movie as much as the next fanboy --- and I get it about the robots and aliens and the CRASH, BANG, WHIZ, CLANG, BOOM -- I feel something better, deeper and more lasting when I come out of a movie feeling illuminated and not just bludgeoned by SPFX and big noise from the boys.

Here's a link to recent article in LA Times with quotes from screenwriter Woolverton about the mysteries of dark characters and some of her creative process in the evolution of Maleficent.

Having spent many years now (decades in fact, DECADES) in the lively company of fans of super heroes and action movies, I appreciate the passion of their fandom, but I never really connected with their heroic characters. But when I watched Maleficent and in the early sequence when she FLIES -- I got a glimpse of that feeling the fanboys know when they are connected to those super-powers in the stories they are watching or reading and empowered in a way that nothing else can match.

That an entire movie about a dark, conflicted, flawed -- but powerful, confident and redeemed FEMALE lead character can enchant an audience and dominate at the box office -- that's what gives me HOPE. It's perhaps one of the most magical human qualities: Hope is the superpower inside each of us. Hope is what fuels the fearless. Hope is what makes the wounded rise again. Hope sustains us -- and that's why I embrace the many messages of Maleficent, and hope you can too.

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