Here’s the news: Tim Burton is to direct Maleficent’s tale. Burton will give a voice to Disney’s Maleficent, who is based on the nameless evil fairy godmother of the traditional Sleeping Beauty fairytale – in the same way that Gregory Maguire gave a voice to the Wicked Witch of the West and the Ugly Stepsister. Burton’s darkly fantastical story telling style is sure to bring a macabre twist to Maleficent’s story.
The Grimm Brothers’ version of Sleeping Beauty remains the best known but the tale traces its lineage back to the 1697 story The Beauty Asleep in the Woods, by the French author Charles Perrault. Perrault used fairytales as a vehicle for teaching moral lessons to the children, female in particular, to whom the stories were told – and his tale about Beauty was no exception. Amongst many little lessons about the virtues to which good and moral women should aspire, is the poignant sense that women require the salvation of a man; the Prince (man) is portrayed as the great defender, the antithesis of evil that, in Perrault’s tale, is embodied in the form of the “old fairy” – Disney’s Maleficent.
Rumours suggest that Burton’s film is to be called Maleficent (go figure) and that Anglina Jolie (blagh!) is interested in the title role. One can only hope that Burton casts someone decidedly less dull than Mrs Pitt. Although the film is a definite (Disney has already registered the domain name maleficentmovie.com), Burton currently has a menagerie of projects in the pipeline, including The Addams Family; Dark Shadows; Mai, The Psychic Girl; Monsterpocalypse and a feature length stop-motion remake of his own Frankenweenie, so Maleficent may be yet a while – 2010 according to the Internet Movie Database. As if that wasn’t enough Burton is also producing Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Big Eyes. Luckily Burton fans have plenty to look forward to whilst Maleficent is finalised.