Maleficent was a huge success for Disney when it was released back in the summer of 2014.
Audiences of all ages were attracted to Angelina Jolie’s mesmeric turn as the titular character, who was originally the antagonist of Sleeping Beauty, but in Maleficent is presented in a much more sympathetic light as we get to see the story from her perspective.
As a result, you’re forced to question whether or not Maleficent is actually evil. This grey area is exactly want Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil director Joachim Ronning wanted to dive even deeper into with the sequel.
“I think she is a little bit of both,” he tells Metro, when asked whether or not Maleficent is evil. “First of all she is not human. She is a fae. She doesn’t think like a human, she is very direct and wicked and has magic. I think audiences like that because we wish we had that. But she also has a big heart. And that shines through sometimes, especially because of her love for Aurora.”
Having starred as Aurora in Maleficent when she was just 14, Elle Fanning was eager to return to the character in Mistress Of Evil, which sees Michelle Pfeiffer’s Queen Ingrith cause a rift between Maleficent and her step-daughter Aurora, during which time the pair form new allies, meet new enemies, and eventually have to explore their own histories so that they can try and save the magical kingdom.
Because of the success of the original, Fanning felt a huge responsibility to once again do justice to Aurora, especially as scores of young girls regularly approach her to talk about the film. This meant that Fanning made sure Mistress Of Evil avoided the temptation to make Aurora “very dark” or just give her “armor and a sword” to prove her strength.
“Her true nature is kindness and acceptance and that’s the Disney princess she is,” the actress, who is now 21, explains to Metro. “She fights conflict in a different way.”
“I was soft. I loved dressing up in pink. But that doesn’t make me any less of a strong woman. I wanted to celebrate her femininity. She wants to be strong and grow up and have babies and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
“So I wanted Aurora to be able to fight her battles in a pink dress and doing it with reason. Which is also the voice of the youth that we have today.”
Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil has even more parallels to the current political and social climate.
As well as Aurora and her husband to be Prince Philip clearly being the wisest and most level-headed of the leading characters, we also see Ingrith use fear to “control a false narrative” about Maleficent to divide the Kingdom, something that the current President of the United States Of America has repeatedly been accused of.
Ronning and Fanning don’t expect kids to pick up on every detail and theme that permeates throughout Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil, though.
“Obviously it is a children’s film and a Disney movie. But Disney has always done well at introducing themes,“ explains Fanning, who is still hopeful that the children that watch will still be able to “understand that it is wrong to exile people that are different.”
“Acceptance and tolerance were big themes for us,” adds Ronning. “The film is about kindness and acceptance and tolerance. We want people to be kind to one another.”
Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil is released on October 17.