Disney’s “Maleficent” & the Truly Heroic Life
“It took a great hero and a terrible villain to make it all come about. And her name was Maleficent.”
Disney’s Maleficent (2014 release)
What is the vital difference that sets heroes apart from villains? One loving choice? A single, defining moment? That is often how it works in fairy tales. We’re given a hasty snapshot of a character’s life and we immediately assign a label. But as we all know, a person’s character develops from a lifetime of decisions, and not a few solitary actions. Anyone can act heroic for an hour or two, but remaining faithful and consistent… living a heroic life – these are the marks of a truly honorable person.
And as we all know, real life doesn’t follow the “Fairy Tale Formula.” The love of our life may see us as a Perfect Prince Charming for a fleeting moment, but eventually they’ll see through our shining armor and discover that we can be spiteful and selfish from time to time. And if we take the time to get to know that Beastly Villain at work, we may just find a beautiful soul who is temporarily struggling through a difficult phase of life. So is it really fair to categorize human beings as heroes and villains? Does it really have to be an “either, or” situation? Isn’t it possible for one person to be both?
This is what I love most about Disney’s recent movie release, Maleficent. Directed by Robert Stromberg, this film does an excellent job of taking an old villain and fleshing out her story, showing that while she could indeed be fierce and intimidating, she could also be soft, kind, and – well – downright loveable! Angelina Jolie delivers an outstanding performance as Maleficent (you’ll swear she jumped right out of the 1959 Disney cartoon) and Elle Fanning will steal your heart by being every bit as sweet and innocent as a charmed princess such as Sleeping Beauty must be. And while the film earned a PG rating for mild violence, this one really is squeaky clean. If your child is past the point where watching The Wizard of Oz gives them nightmares, then this film is safe for them to watch.
Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of assuming you know this story. When a coworker of mine heard that I had seen the movie, his response was, “Oh, let me guess…she’s an evil villain but had a hard life, so it’s okay for her to be cruel?”
“No, the movie isn’t making excuses for Maleficent,” I answered. “It admits that she did some terrible things. But it also shows that nobody is all bad, and that nobody is perfect, either. The point is that we’re all human – and that means we all have a little hero and a little villain in us.”
Which begs the question: when you reach the end of your life, which “character label” will win out? Will you be defined as a hero or a villain?
Keep in mind that it isn’t life’s “big, shining moments,” that will end up defining us, but the consistency we’ve shown day in and day out. Be faithful to make heroic decisions in the small, mundane things of life, and a true hero you shall be.
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”