I have sat on this opinion for a while. If people want to go out and enjoy a little Disney film, then why should I stop them? My nieces still like Disney and princesses. People seem to think Angelina Jolie has talent. Why ruin their fun?
However, if someone really wanted to see this flick, they would have done so by now. The movie is in a few theaters, but surely on its way out. And I would like to discuss my problem with the movie before folks go running out to buy it as Christmas gifts for their small children.
My biggest complaint is that this is supposed to be a family film. “Rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images.” How many PG films do you come across these days? Clearly, their audience is kids. And yet, it is a movie about rape.
A winged creature goes on a date with a prince. As the moon glistens overhead, they touch lovingly. He offers her a drink. She smiles, consumes it, and falls asleep beside him. Then, he takes that which is most important to her, and sneaks away home. When she wakes, she screams in severe pain and agony at her fractured self.
Yeah, that is rape.
Granted, it is the wings that are removed, but even with that metaphor you can see their bloody stumps, proving a lasting damage. What really gives it away is the how Jolie cries and moans. That is the scream of someone who has been raped. There really is no getting around it. Following are the reasons that that bothers me.
-It is PG. Come on. Let the kids have their childhood. Should girls be warned not to take drinks from strangers? Sure. Should women be cautious about whom they date? Of course. Should six year olds have to learn about it in a graphic scene? My opinion is no. Let them have their childhood until they hit at least double digits. Maybe embrace the darker side of life in a PG-13 movie, but not here.
-There seems to be a trend to make female characters more interesting by raping them. The rationale is that the audience can care about a woman more if they feel they have been damaged; that it makes them more human. I hate that.
I love Keri Russell, but knew I could never watch The Americans after the graphic rape scene in the pilot that I still cannot get out of my head. (Also, her character only falls in love with her husband after he murders the man who raped her, and that is a whole other level of intense.)
Scandal, Downtown Abbey, House of Cards; these are shows that I am told are interesting and well-done but they add in a rape plot so that viewers can connect with females or a sense of tragedy can be used for plot. If you want a person to identify with a female character, there are plenty of other ways. Give them an aging parent to care for, a quirky hobby, or a cat that throws up every time their owner walks in the door. I think if writers are going to get paid to crank this stuff out, they should have a few more tricks up their sleeve.
I wanted to make sure that I was not the only one who saw it as rape. I checked online and there are articles from Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, and yes, Perez Hilton. If a gossip site like Perez Hilton can see it, then anyone can.
I want to believe that there is another way for this woman to go from woodland creature to angry revenge-seeker. Maybe the royalty of the nearby kingdom cuts down too many trees. Perhaps they take creatures hostage and throw them in a dank jail. I think that this kids’ movie could have approached things differently.
Other movies have been doing different things that are delightful. The LEGO Movie breaks the fourth wall in the last act and it only makes the film resonate better. How to Train Your Dragon 2 features a protagonist that tries to get the opposing sides to talk things over and come to a peaceful resolution. What if Maleficent had followed suit? What if, unlike so many other movies out there, it had found its own way to strike a different tone, not the violent one?
Yes, Maleficent broke the mold of Disney pictures. However I would offer that it do so inappropriately. I am all for finding new ground in family films, but I do not feel that this intense tone is the direction where they should venture. I would like the young kids in my life to be childish a little bit longer. They already fight in the back yard; they do not need to pretend-tear-wings-off too. I hope for movies where instead of clipping a character’s wings, they let them spread out and soar.
If this was all too serious a topic for you, I offer you a salve. Like every other actor, Jolie had her ‘90’s phase. And it doesn’t get any more ‘90’s than Playing By Heart. It had such ‘90’s stalwarts as Anthony Edwards, Jay Mohr, Gillian Anderson, and Ryan Phillippe. The trailer’s soundtrack includes music from While You Were Sleeping and Goo Goo Dolls. So naturally it was released by Miramax. 😉 It’s goofy, doofy, and silly. Oh ‘90’s cinema…