This won’t come as a shock to most people who know me well: I like my sleep.
I get up at such an ungodly hour through the week for our show. So I like to catch up on the zzzzzzz's when I can. I like to nap. I like to sleep in. I like to sleep in, then nap. I take cat naps. I take naps with cats. Really, as long as there’s some snoozing involved, I’m in.
That being said, “Sleeping Beauty” reigned as my supreme favorite fairytale as a little girl. And I think it was a mixture of things that made it stand out to me….
The sleeping part. Obviously. Although I wouldn’t have yet known my fondness for a good slumber at such a young age. I’m sure I fought against my bedtime to stay up just 5 more minutes.
The fashion. This particular princess wore a pink dress. My favorite! Throughout the story, the dress is zapped a multitude of colors by her fairy godmothers. However, at the end, it’s pink. As all good dresses should be, really.
But even more than both of those things, it had the most to do with the evil. And more specifically, Maleficent.
See, I think I was one of those unusual children who really, really liked scary things. And let’s be real. Maleficent, with her demonic black horns and her evil smile, is the stuff nightmares are made of. She kept an ominous raven as her little pet and it would perch upon her magical staff until she would strike it violently on the ground. Talk about fierce!
So I was elated to find out, all these years later, that this year would be the year when the real-life movie would come out in theaters telling that “Sleeping Beauty” tale from the villain’s viewpoint. On our radio show, we throw a movie premiere party once a month at a theater and give out free tickets and VIP seats for our listeners. So I quickly volunteered to host the “Maleficent” premiere.
The afternoon before that night’s big movie, I was chatting on the phone with my mom and told her I was going to see “Maleficent” and she had no idea what I was talking about.
I was flabbergasted! Who is Maleficent?!?! Did she really ask me that? Was this the same mother that I spent the first 18 years of my life with, watching the same movies over and over again? First it was “Dumbo”, then it was “The Never Ending Story”, then “The Breakfast Club”, and then “Legally Blonde”. And somewhere sandwiched in between all of those was the cartoon movie version of “Sleeping Beauty”. That movie was only one of my all-time favorites as a child! How could she not remember it?
To which she further flabbergasted me with this conversation:
Mom- “Oh, is that the one where she eats the apple?”
Me- “Mother, really. That’s Snow White."
Mom- “Oh. Well, then….that’s the one where she has the fairy godmother.”
Me- “Nooooo! That’s Cinderella. I’m talking about Sleeping Beauty.”
Mom- “What does she do? Sleep?”
Me (starting to get feisty)- “YES! And her name is Aurora. Remember? But they call her Briar Rose.”
Mom- “Is she the one who cleans a lot?”
Me- “No, that’s still Cinderella.”
Mom- “I don’t think you’re right.”
Me-“I am right! And Sleeping Beauty has 3 different fairy godmothers. MOM!!!”
Mom- (and now she’s starting to sound all mom-like)- “I think you’re making all this up. I’ve never seen this movie.”
Me- “You have grand-kids, for goodness sakes!! Haven’t you watched it with them before? Don’t you watch any of these movies?!?!”
To which she responds with- “No, I don’t watch them. And you need to stop living in a fantasy land where you know everything about ‘em.”
Good point. She won, fair and square. And then we both ended up laughing.
And after I finished the call, I went to the movies.
But something strange happened in the moment before the movie started. I was sitting there in the theater and you know the part when they say “Don’t be an idiot. Turn of your cell phones and shut up”…. Ok, well, they don’t phrase it like that, but they should.
Anyway—at that moment, I actually started to get nervous! I had this apprehensive feeling take over me. What if this movie that I- even as a 30 year old woman- had been so incredibly excited to see, fell flat? What if this story didn’t live up to the hype that I had built it up to be since I was little? Maybe Mom was right, maybe I was really taking these fairy tales a bit too seriously! But what if Angelina Jolie was not the Maleficent that I fondly remembered? What if I hated the movie?
The good news is, I didn’t. I actually loved it. And much the same as the musical “Wicked” tells the story of “The Wizard of Oz” from the Wicked Witch perspective, “Maleficent” did the same for “Sleeping Beauty.”
And since it was a children’s Disney movie, there were lots and lots of children there that night to see it. There were also the few childless adults like myself, that I’m guessing experienced a similar childhood fascination with the story as I did. And like most kid’s movies, there were some major adult themes, too. In fact, two things stood out the most to me. Two morals of the story stuck with me as I walked out of the theater thinking, “Yup, they nailed that, all right!”
1. DO NOT ANGER A WOMAN. And by anger I mean: Do not do something that makes her mad enough to do you harm. That includes lying, cheating, and stealing (all of which are fully represented in the movie). The bottom line is: SCORN A WOMAN AND SHE WILL WRECK YOUR WORLD. She will annihilate your kingdom and she will hold a grudge for years (16 of them, as in this story, is really not out of the question) before she will find that one way to get her ultimate revenge. And when she does… HOLY CRAP! Now maybe it won’t be as dramatic as putting said offender’s 16-year-old daughter into a coma as in Sleeping Beauty’s case, but she will find a way to make them pay. Dearly.
And 2. THERE’S ALWAYS TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY. As much as I spent my childhood loving and loathing the villain in “Sleeping Beauty” for all of her evilness, it turns out that she really wasn’t as horrible as I thought. And if I were in Maleficent’s shoes (or in this case, in her wings), I may have done the exact same thing.
And I hope those kids in the audience that night took away some of these lessons from the movie, too.
Be kind to one another and you will literally change the world. Don’t judge others based on what you see because deep down there’s some good in everyone’s heart, you just have to find it. True love often doesn’t present itself in the way you have always imagined. And it’s never too late to go back and fix a mistake from the past.
And as they often say in those fairytale fantasy worlds I may be over here living in…..