Dr. Randy White
Words which end in icent (or icient) and itious are built upon the Latin word facere (to make or do). So, magnificent is “to make magnified,” and beneficent is “to make beneficial.” The Latin mal is evil, thus Maleficent is “to make evil.” The title is fitting for Disney’s latest movie.
I saw the movie last weekend, and offer this movie review of Maleficent. Like we’ve come to expect from Disney, the movie is immensely entertaining. The Disney Company knows the art of fairy-tale telling better than any movie-maker on earth. The production qualities, script-writing, and entertainment value of a Disney movie exceed expectations of audience goers (and, with the price of movies today, they should!) Christian movie-makers need to step up their game if they ever expect any serious role in the American movie scene.
The movie-goer with Judeo-Christian values, however, will find those values offended at what has also become trademark Disney: agenda-driven children’s movies. In this light, Disney may be one of the most dangerous companies in America today. For generations, witchcraft and sorcery have been part of the Disney fairy-tale scene, but in this generation that has taken a whole new turn. In the earlier Disney movies, the “good-vs-evil” storyline always ended with the triumph of the good. In more recent Disney movies this “good-triumphs-evil” storyline has changed, and Maleficent takes it to a whole new level.
If you go see Maleficent, here is the agenda you will have to endure:
I suppose everyone knows the Disney “Sleeping Beauty” story-line (the original was written in 1697). In Maleficent, the narrator tells us that we are about to learn the story in a whole new light. It is the “behind-the-scenes” story that becomes the new fairy tale of Maleficent. As it turns out, the wicked fairy of Sleeping Beauty was actually just a wronged fairy suffering as a victim. Had she had a good public relations director, her reputation could have been spared all these generations of scorn. Maleficent is “the story as you’ve never been told before,” because it is actually a new story which was never written before. It is revisionist history of a fairy-tale.
Disney has rarely been friendly to its human audience, and Maleficent doesn’t even bother with innuendo in this issue. “The humans” are inherently greedy and harmful. Without the humans, the “fair people” (fairies) live in a world of utopian beauty and perfect harmony. When the humans come, all trouble begins.
And it cannot be considered a mistake that the land of the fair people is called the land of the Moors. Moors are the Middle Ages Muslim populations that invaded Europe, sparking the Crusades. In Malefecent, the beautiful land of the Moors is threatened by the humans, and when they clash in battle, the humans are unmistakably dressed in the regalia of the Christian Crusaders. These references to Moors and implications of Crusaders are also revisionist history, inserted “innocently” into the story-line.
Evil is Good
As it turns out, the story we’ve never been told is that Maleficent is the victim, robbed of her wings by the greedy human who becomes King Stefan. She does pronounce a curse upon the baby princes, but then she works tirelessly to protect the princess from the bumbling fools who are caring for her during the 16 years of protection. In the end, Maleficent is seen as one who has simply been misunderstood, and she restores the harmony of the earth through her beneficence. The Bible has a good comment on those who work to make maleficence into beneficence: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20, NKJV)
The Moral of the Story
With this story line, Disney effectively communicates to children that evil might not be evil and history might not be history. Watch for sequels in coming years, but sequels of a different source. They will not be Disney movies and they will not be about fairy tales. Instead, the sequels to Malefecent will be movies and books about real history and real evil, both of which will undergo the same revisions and makeovers as the wicked fairy of Sleeping Beauty. When this happens, Malefecent will just be a fairy-tale.