Robert Stromberg's Maleficent: A Theory Of Adaptation

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Maleficent: changing points of view

An adaptation is a retelling of an original text. However, as stated by Linda Hutcheon in her A Theory of Adaptation, the final product (the adaptation) is an entirely autonomous derivation, and its aim is to either keep a story alive, or tell the story in a different way (2006: 9). As most fairy tales, Sleeping Beauty is a straightforward example of reinterpreting a story in order for it to never die. This classic tale has been the source of inspiration for several adaptations, the compilation of the Grimm brothers, or film director Robert Stromberg’s Maleficent, to name a couple. The original tale barely mentions the evil fairy in the moment in which she casts a cruel spell on the princess, whereas the
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However, since the Maleficent movie was released, that view has began to change. In Stromberg’s adaptation, the spectator gets to know what has turned Maleficent so evil. The reason is not the same as in the fairy tales; she was not angry just because she had not been invited to the little princess’ christening. The cause to Maleficent’s hatred goes back to her past as a young fairy who lives the in Moors, a magic forest, and, accidentally, falls in love with a human peasant called Stefan. Many years go by, and they cease to see each other for a while, until Stefan comes back to the forest; but his time, with the intention of conquering the lands in order to become King of his town. The way in which Stefan manages to get rid of Maleficent is by drugging her and cutting off her wings while she is asleep. Filled with anger, Maleficent turns the Moors into a dark forest and begins to plan her revenge against the now king Stefan. A couple of years later, she finds out about his newborn daughter’s christening and decides to attend and cast an evil spell on the baby: “she will prick her finger in the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a sleep like death (...) the princess can be awoken from her death sleep, but only by true love’s kiss. This curse will last till the end of time”. From this point, the …show more content…
Therefore, as different as the point of view of his adaptation may be, Stromberg did not take any real risks by making this change of perspective, but rather gave the original story a distinctive turn. However, Hutcheon affirms that fidelity to the original should not be the criterion for judging an adaptation, specially when dealing canonical works (2006: 6-7) such as, in this case, Sleeping Beauty. What Stromberg did was deconstruct the original character: he turned a secondary role into a fully developed character with an extremely profound background. Thus, Maleficent is a fully autonomous work since not only does it develop the character of Maleficent effectively but also creates an entire new atmosphere for the readers of the previous stories. Moreover, A Theory of Adaptation affirms that there is always a financial appeal to adaptations: along with Stromberg’s new atmosphere, comes a new audience. Nowadays, traditional fairy tales are highly popular among people of all ages, thus a retelling of a classic such as Sleeping Beauty instantly becomes an undeniable worldwide success as the admirers of the previous adaptations will find this modern version appealing, and so will new spectators. Once again, the autonomy and independence of

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