Maleficent is a villainess who originated in the 1959 animated Disney feature, Sleeping Beauty. She is a dark fairy, the shadowed counterpart to the three good fairies, and lives alone on the Forbidden Mountain where she presumably gathers power for what use? Who knows. Every action she takes shows her calculating wickedness. In the movie she targets then little baby Princess Aurora for her parents' supposed crime, and every step from then on is filled with malice towards the princess and everyone who gets near her.

There seems no greater purpose to Maleficent's choices, except the obvious one: she does what she does because it gives her pleasure. This makes her all the more frightening, for there is no reasoning with her, no bargain that can possibly be made. She has such power in her hands, and she uses it to unravel the happiness of others with deliberate strokes of evil.

Maleficent was voiced by Eleanor Audley, who is also famous for having voiced Lady Tremaine in Disney's Cinderella.

The following is an excerpt from John Grant's Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters about his own interpretation of Maleficent:

Of all the characters in Sleeping Beauty, the one that everyone remembers, even decades later, is the wicked fairy Maleficent. She is one of the finest creations ever to come out of the Disney studio and the brilliant transformation of her into the Dragon to fight Phillip merely adds to the strength of her characterization. Ever her name a wonderful combination of "malice" and "malevolent" testifies to her pure evil. People who thought that the wicked Queen in Snow White might frighten children were presumably petrified themselves when they took their grandchildren to see Maleficent. To an extent this is achieved because she is a much more rounded character than her earlier counterpart she has something of the dashing style of Cruella De Vil in One Hundred and One Dalmations which is hardly surprising, because Marc Davis did much of the work on both of them. In his interview with A. Eisen, Davis described the experience:

I had nothing to do with the dragon [that was Ken Anderson's province] but it was based on Maleficent. There was a consistency; this wasn't just a dragon that she turned into, this was her own particular dragon. Maleficent was a very difficult character, because she always raised her arms and gave a speech. This is a very difficult thing to make come off. When one character is working with another character, you get the contact, you feel the reaction. Once you have two characters that work together, they come to life.

Despite these difficulties, Disney succeeded in making Maleficent come to life in both her forms. Tall and thin with a black horned headdress and a capacious, swirling cloak, with a contemptuous face and highly arched eyebrows, with a long neck that seems to be nothing more than thinly covered vertebrae, she is a terrifying figure even in her rare moments of repose. Her driving emotion is hatred hatred of all things good and as a result she incidentally hates fairies, human beings, animals... anything capable of displaying the gentler emotions. Her reason for cursing the newborn infant is a trivial one she was slighted by the failure to send her an invitation to the festivities and its triviality is emphasized by the fact that she is so superior int erms of power and influence to anyone else in the movie that one would not expect her to notice, one way or another, whether or not she had received and invitation at all. No, her "reason" for setting the curse is not that at all: it is merely an excuse for her exercise her all-consuming malevolence and hatred.

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This page was last modified on April 15th 2007.