Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959)
What an amazing film. Some quick notes I took:
The road to true love has many obstacles - need to be armed with virtue and truth to fight evil
"In ageless sleep, she finds repose…"
"That evil die, and good endure"
At the border of life (good) and death (evil) lies the purgatory of sleep. This domain of sleep is also where Beauty finds repose, rests in peace (literally and figuratively). In the story, Beauty’s name is Aurora, meaning ‘dawn’ - when night (harboring evils such as hopelessness and death) turns to day, signaling the triumph of the good, including true love.
I am interested in the cultural role of Maleficent - self-proclaimed “Mistress of All Evil”, and an obvious cynic (or just jealous? not quite) when it comes to true love. And why is her color the coolest - purple?
Here’s one example of an analysis of Maleficent: http://books.google.com.mx/books?id=pdCrF4JxKDIC&pg=PA107#v=onepage&q=maleficent&f=false. This stuff is like intellectual candy - easy and not terribly nutritious, but so tasty. Here’s a lick:
More than aural and visual similarities among the animated characters, the pleasurable and duplicitous ways of looking at Garbo and Dietrich are inscribed on the drawn bodies of Disney’s evil women. The pleasure derives from their power and authority as femmes fatales, living and thinking only for themselves as sexual subjects, not sexual objects; the duplicity derives from the animated perfection that subverts their authority even while fetishizing it — these deadly women are also doomed women. [T]he caricature and melodramatics of the femme fatale are iconic and congruous cinematic codes that inscribe middle age as a time of treachery, consumption and danger in the feminine life cycle. […] Ursula, originally envisioned as a “scorpion fish”, not only captures the melodramatic, languorous, and rapacious movement of the diva, but her octopus tentacles physically manifest the enveloping, consumptive sexuality of the deadly woman.
Disney artists distance the good women from the evil women of the tales, not just in their physical construction, but in their divergent productivity. Doane maintains, “It is appropriate that the femme fatale is represented as the antithesis of the maternal — sterile or barren, she produces nothing in a society which fetishizes production”.
The wicked women harbor depths of power that are ultimately unknowable but bespeak a cultural trepidation for unchecked femininity.
On the Disney cultural and somatic timeline, the young heroines will become their stepmothers; the stepmothers, too, will become the good fairies and godmothers. They in turn will care for the next generation of young heroines, lovingly and carefully, telling their tales to the ‘sisterhood of readers who will understand the language…because only for women does the thread, which spins out of the lore itself, create a tapestry to be fully read and understood.’ The Disney film fabric is not made of threads, but of celluloid. The women of the Painting and Inking Department, lovingly and carefully, paint the pentimentos.
Excerpted from From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture, edited by Elizabeth Bell, Lynda Haas, Laura Sells