Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Maleficent & Re-Writing Our History

I don't pause to say this often enough, so I am going to say it now in the hopes that you will remember it when I go a long time without saying it, without realizing that I haven't said it: there is no right or wrong interpretation. There are interpretations which are more fruitful than other interpretations, interpretations which can account for more of the information contained within a work of art and interpretations which do more to expand our engagement with the art. Different critics have different goals for their interpretations, and mine is always to account for as much of the information in a work of art as possible; I don't know that I actually accomplish that, but that's my goal.
When I feel that I am wrong, I apologize immediately and point out how I was wrong and why; if I am uncertain about something, I try to communicate that. Now, moving along, while I watched the promised Maleficent trailer about her wings today, a rotten feeling came over me and I don't think this film is going to be any good. In the newest trailer, released just today, the title card says, "You know the tale, Now find out the truth." It's a fairy tale. There is no "truth" to it, unless, of course, you are the object of the fairy tale's lesson, in which case, you are re-writing the tale and parading it as "truth" even though there is no such thing within the context of a fairy tale. Now that I have ranted, here is the trailer:
We now know there is a dragon.
The inclusion in previous trailers of animated clips from Disney's 1959 version, where they demonstrate how close to the original they want us to believe they are making the new version, now seems to have been rather mis-leading with all the new "updating" they have done. Permit me, dear reader, to be very clear about this: each generation has to have its own art because each generation has its own struggles and needs a means of exerting its own identity. I am not against updating Maleficent or the story of Aurora; what I am against, with this story and all of art and history, is the re-writing of the originals to make them say something they didn't. With this latest trailer, it's more like they are mocking the original version, which, I am afraid, is exactly what we will discover.
Why would they do that?
Why go to all the trouble to re-make a film, only to mock the original? If they thought the original was mocking them. I promise we will go in-depth on the Sleeping Beauty tales and the Disney animated version, but we can at least say that the original Sleeping Beauty was a counter-argument to the Sexual Revolution: it's 1959 and people are engaging in sexual activity increasingly outside the boundaries of marriage and even heterosexual unions. The pill and abortion will both soon be legalized, decreasing women's inhibitions about promiscuous sexual behavior and Disney was basically combatting that with Sleeping Beauty.  Again, we will go into greater depth later, but I don't think I will now find Maleficent a film that I can get excited about.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner