On June 13 Angelina Jolie became “Maleficent” as Disney’s retelling of the “Sleeping Beauty” tale began principal photography. Jolie stars and produces alongside Joe Roth, Don Hahn, Matt Smith and Palek Patel. Robert Stromberg, the Oscar-winning production designer of “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland,” is making his directorial debut with the cast that also includes Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Miranda Richardson, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville.
We can only hope that this origin myth– that reveals the events that hardened Maleficent’s heart so that she winds up cursing innocent baby Aurora–goes dark and avoids sugar-coating. However, recent Snow White retellings “Mirror Mirror” and “Snow White and the Huntsman,” as well as “Red Riding Hood,” have tended to favor commercial appeal over storytelling, even when the original fairy tales were far from Disney light. Even the great Disney animated features, including “Maleficent” writer Linda Woolverton’s own “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast,” steered to the dark and scary side.
Disney will release the film March 14, 2014, in 3-D.