Maleficent – Movie Discussion

maleficent.

*In case you missed it at Shepherd Project*

Maleficent is the fantastic retelling of the Snow White tale from the point of view of the “evil” fairy, Maleficent.  There are so many good take-aways and meaningful moments in this movie, I want to highlight just a few and give you some questions you can use to turn your entertainment into a more meaningful experience…and hopefully one which challenges your faith.

Two Kingdoms

There were two kingdoms in the land—Maleficent came from the supernatural realm where people trusted and honored each other.  They had no need of a ruler.  The other, Stefan’s world, the world of men, was full of greed and mistrust and therefore needed a King to keep the peace.  The people were competitive and jealous, of each other, but even more so of the neighboring kingdom.

Stefan’s land continually tried to conquer Maleficent’s, and to do so they sought to kill Maleficent, its best defender.  She was wounded, to be sure.  The King even thought she was dead; she had lost her wings and along with that much of her power.  But in the end she was “resurrected” in a way and vanquished the evil in the neighboring land, saving her own and restoring the other to a peaceful reign.

Those two kingdoms bear a striking resemblance to kingdoms of earth and of heaven, both in nature and in history.  Heaven is a supernatural realm where the inhabitants honor and defer to each other.  Earth is much like Stefan’s kingdom was portrayed, full of jealousy and greed.  The ruler of the world of men (although he is unseen), Satan, is terribly jealous of the Prince of Heaven, Jesus, and does all he can to take over the kingdom and/or hurt Jesus.  He did hurt Jesus.  He used Judas to betray Jesus (similar to Stefan’s betrayal of Maleficent).  He even thought Jesus dead…until Jesus rose from the dead and conquered him and sin and death once and for all.

  • How do the two kingdoms in Maleficent compare to the kingdoms of heaven and earth?
  • Which kingdom is better and why?
  • Jesus tells us that we are supposed to pray for life to be “on earth as it is in heaven”—how would life have been different in the movie if Stefan’s world had been as it was in Maleficent’s world?  How would your life be different if you experienced life “on earth as it is in heaven”?

Betrayal

I’ve already mentioned that Jesus and Maleficent were both betrayed by someone who claimed to love them.  Jesus says he identifies with our sorrows…even the pain of being betrayed by “love”.[1]

  • How does Maleficent’s betrayal compare to Jesus’?
  • Have you ever been betrayed?
  • Does it make you feel better knowing that Jesus knows what it feels like, too?

Just a side note:  If would have still hurt if Stefan had decided he didn’t love her anymore, but it wouldn’t have made her bitter if he had broken up with her well.  What tormented her and turned her bitter and angry was the dishonorable way he treated her.  Need a little guidance on how to break it to someone easy that you’re not into them anymore?  Check out our piece on “How to break up”—you’ll be glad you did!

Orphan Mindset

I have heard some interesting talks lately about the difference between the mentality of an orphan and the mentality of a son/daughter.  Stefan, Maleficent and Aurora are all essentially orphans, but the orphan mentality is particularly pervasive in Stefan—perhaps because he is raised in the kingdom of men (the earthly kingdom).  He doesn’t feel loved for who he is as a son/daughter would.  Stefan has to earn his acceptance through power, position, possessions, etc.  And because he has to earn love—actually, let’s not call it love, let’s call it acceptance…because that isn’t what love is—he is filled with feelings of fear, insecurity, guilt, anxiety, jealousy and competition, etc.   He is afraid that he will lose his place in the world.  Insecure if someone else should be “better” than him.  Jealous of what others have and competitive, always striving to be better than those around him, no matter the cost.

Maleficent and Aurora were raised in the supernatural kingdom where love and honor (not greed and jealousy) characterized relationships.  They grew up secure in the fact that they were loved for who they were, not what they did.  They may have been orphans, but they grew up with a daughter mentality, secure in the fact that they were loved.  Aurora even more so because she sensed Maleficent’s presence looking after her all her life.  Aurora’s confidence that she is loved is astounding and winsome and powerful…she knows no fear because as the Bible points out, there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.[2]

We have to choose between those two mindsets ourselves.  It’s hard.  It is so easy to have the orphan mindset, especially when you’re living the world of men.  We are surrounded by jealousy and insecurity and a works mentality.  It can be hard to accept that Jesus loves us fully and completely, not for what we do or where we come from or what we are capable of, but simply because HE IS LOVE…and because He is our Creator, our Daddy.  The more we spent time in the Kingdom of Heaven though, through reading God’s word and prayer and worship and so forth, the more we let the truth of God’s absolute love for us sink into our souls, the more we will begin to operate as sons and daughters of the King and the less we will think and operate as orphans.

  • Think about the difference between an orphan and a son or daughter—how might an orphan think different than a son/daughter?
  • When you think about your life with God, do you think you act more like a son/daughter or more like an orphan?
  • Why do you think the orphan mindset is so “tempting”…so irresistible, even when you don’t like the way it feels or sounds?
  • What are some steps you can take to help move yourself from orphan thinking to son/daughter thinking?

Walls

Once betrayed and wounded, Maleficent created walls all around herself so that no one could get into her world and hurt her again.

  • Have you ever been so hurt that you created walls to protect yourself?
  • Do you think those walls were good and useful?  Were there some negatives to those walls as well?
  • Do you think there is a difference between creating boundaries and creating walls?
  • Maleficent decided to tear down her walls in the end.  Why?
  • What are the walls in your life and what might change things so that you would want to take them down?

Power of Love

Love is a powerful thing.  When Maleficent was betrayed by a false, fake love, she turned bitter.  It changed her and made her into something hard, harsh, even cruel.  But that same force in its true form was also able to melt the heart of stone and return her to her former loving self.  She was jaded by love, but she was also awakened by love.

  • Knowing the power of love, how important is it that we treat each other with (true) love?
  • How destructive is it when we use love manipulatively, and hurt one another with love?  Have you ever experienced the destructive force it can be?  Explain.
  • Has your heart been softened and/or redeemed by a real love?  Explain.
  • How much responsibility do you think we have for the way in which we use the power of love in each other’s lives?  (Do you think Stefan should be held responsible for Maleficent’s hardened state?)
  • Do you know anyone who seems hardened?  Have you ever thought that you might have the power to awaken their hadened, jaded heart with kindness and love (I’m talking about friendship love here, not romantic love)?

Complicated

It seems we prefer the complicated reality to the simplicity of black and white these days…and Maleficent is no different.  We may have judged her as an evil fairy all these years because we only knew part of the story, but now that we have the rest of the story…we learn that it’s complicated.  And we learn that she isn’t as bad as she seemed.  Not only that, but we learn that good came from her, even though she wasn’t perfect.  As the narrator points out, “In the end, my kingdom was not united by a hero or a villain as legend predicted, but by one who was both hero and villain.  Her name was Maleficent.”

It’s an encouraging message because none of us is perfect.  We are all mixed bags.  Complicated.  We have all been hurt and jaded, made bad mistakes and hurt other people…and often wished we could undo what we’ve done, only to find out it was permanent.  Permanent, that is, until love could fix it, because love covers over a multitude of wrongs.[3]  We are all a villain to someone because we have all hurt someone in our ignorance, or our pride, or our anger or jealousy… all of us have screwed up.  And yet, Jesus in his love comes along and wipes the sins clean and whispers to us that we can begin anew.  We can tear down the walls and make things right and become a hero, joining together his kingdom and the kingdom of man so that they can live in harmony as He intended.

  • Do you tend to want to see people in terms of black and white, or are you comfortable and able to see the many shades of grey?  What about with yourself?
  • Have you ever thought someone was a villain, but then heard the rest of the story and realized it was more complicated than you thought, and maybe they weren’t such a villain after all?
  • Is it easier to hear that a villain is more heroic than you thought, or that a hero was more of a villain than you thought?
  • How does it make you feel to know that Jesus is willing to take any villain, no matter how evil and hardened they may be, and forgive their sins and turn them into a hero?

Click here to read quotes from Maleficent.

Click here to read about Feminism and Gender Roles in Maleficent:  The Good and the Ugly.

Reviews of similar movies:

 

[1] I say “love” because it’s not real love if it betrays you.  God’s love will never betray you.

[2] 1 John 4:18

[3] I Peter 4:8

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