Adapting The Story
It was also important to Stromberg as a director to have enough of the elements
of the 1959 animated "Sleeping
Beauty" so that people will not be disappointed. "It was important that those
people who recognize and are
fans of the original classic film feel that they cannot only see it realized in
a new light but also see the genesis of
some of those things that they saw in the original film," explains Stromberg.
"So it's a new spin on Maleficent
but at the same time we've woven in enough elements that people will immediately
recognize it to be from the
original film, 'Sleeping Beauty.'"
To blend the old and new into a finished
screenplay, Disney hired writer Linda
Woolverton. "In my time at Disney both
as an executive and as a producer, Linda
Woolverton is the most important
writer Disney has had," says producer
Joe Roth. "Over the past 20 years she's
written 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'The
Lion King' in the animated area and
'Alice in Wonderland' in live action. More than any other writer, she has really
kind of unlocked the notion of
what a Disney film is."
Stromberg and Woolverton were in agreement that they wanted to start off the
story seeing Maleficent as a
young child. "We actually get close to her right off the bat in the beginning of
the film, and then we see how she
meets Stefan," says Stromberg. "Stefan and young Maleficent form a bond together
early on in the film and so
we get to see how that tragically widens over the film as they split and how
they, over time, become enemies."
Woolverton began her process of discovering the secret life of Maleficent by
watching Disney's animated
"Sleeping Beauty." "After watching the movie, I came up with some ideas that
revealed more about her character,"
Woolverton explains. "I created a past for her that leads to the singular moment
in which she curses the baby
Aurora and then takes us past that moment from Maleficent's point of view
through the ending of the film. But
it's a reinvention; it's not just a retelling of the same story."
In addition to the challenge of reinventing a fairy tale that has been a staple
of every child born in the last 50
years, Woolverton had to honor both the iconic character that Disney created and
the talented actress stepping
into the role. "The character really is fantastic and once we had Angelina
Jolie, my task was to seamlessly meld
the two into one to recreate a classic, but wholly unique Maleficent," says the
"I researched a lot of the fairy books," says Woolverton. "I've always loved the
dark fairy world and I was really
excited when I realized that Maleficent was a fairy. Once I realized that, the
whole thing opened up for me
because I'd always wanted to write about this world. So, I used all my love for
this world and all my research and
chose what elements I wanted to use."
Describing the underlying theme of the film, Woolverton says, "The central story
of the film, I believe, is about
the very many natures of love. Love has many faces. It's not just the obvious
face of true love and it can turn.
Love can harden you and twist you and it can redeem your whole life. So every
relationship in the story is about
the nature of love. And you can watch all different kinds of love flower or go
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