Famed film and animation producer Don Hahn spoke with SPINOFF’s Scott Huver about the process of turning the villain of the classic Walt Disney Pictures animated movie Sleeping Beauty into the protagonist — sort of — of the live-action Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie and available now on Blu-ray.
Along with clips from the film, Hahn talks about how to find a compelling story when the protagonist sleeps through the majority of the film and why Maleficent has her own journey despite being tied to Aurora’s. The prolific producer also discusses the rich Disney canon, which finds its roots in European folklore, the different tools and approaches to animation versus live action, and more.
“What it sparked in me was the audience’s hunger for a movie with real emotion,” Hahn said of the response to the film and questions about whether Disney would be giving the same treatment to other classic characters. “That sounds obvious, but to not be afraid of telling stories that have genuine vulnerability to them, and sincerity. That happens a lot in fairy tales. … It’s to approach not so much the characters and catalog, although I’m sure the studio will, and is, looking at that, but to be kind of fearless about telling stories that lay bare the human experience. And just say, ‘Yeah, you can talk about life and death. You can talk about the horrible setbacks and wonderful gifts that life gives us in a very sincere way. And that’s Walt Disney. If you want to characterize Walt Disney’s movies, they lacked cynicism. If we can be brave enough to do that in our era, I think that’s what Maleficent represents. Certainly Sleeping Beauty does. Telling a movie that’s not afraid to be sincere about its emotions.”
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