This movie is a long departure from the old Disney films.
For one, it is a retelling of the story of the sleeping beauty from the perspective of the "wicked" witch Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) who cursed her.
For two, the themes are dark, with betrayal as the central theme alongside vengeance. While other Disney movies contain such elements, none of them that I can recall use them to drive the plot. And none of them have ever touched on the issue of rape the way this film did (metaphorically through the cutting off of Maleficent's wings).
Finally, men portrayed in this movie are terrible. Useless at best (the prince) and evil (the treacherous new king) at worst, the men in Maleficent are stereotypical and pretty flat characters that either add no value to the plot or need to be eliminated to save the world.
I see a trend in Disney Princesses lately. Tangled (which I love) showed us that girls can save the guys, just as they are saved by them. Frozen (which I feel more ambiguous about) took it a step further and showed us that princesses don't need the men and can save themselves. Maleficent crossed the line totally and started cursing the men, casting spells on them, driving them insane, and killing them.
Granted, female representation in Disney in general has been as bad as male representation in Maleficent. And I'm aware that there is evil in the hearts of men that is capable of causing great hurt and harm to women as well.
But is the solution to the patriarchy really a matriarchy? Must we swing to the opposite side of the pendulum? Can there never be some fantastic ideal of gender equality at least in children's movies for us to aspire towards?
Your move Disney.
True love is beyond the reach of men.
Bechdel Test: Passed by a wide margin. This movie only has 3 male characters and they are all either heartless or useless.
No. of films seen this year with:
White man saving the world - 3
Non-white/male protagonist - 7