WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, in theaters now.
Most of the recent Disney remakes have been committed to recreating moments from the original films rather than branching off on their own. That hasn't been the case with Maleficent. however, with both the 2014 original and its new sequel, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, more than willing to craft a new story.
Mistress of Evil also fully breaks with tradition to kill off one of the characters crucial to 1958 animated classic Sleeping Beauty. The Blue Fairy Godmother, who was, admittedly, tweaked for Maleficent, gives her life to save magical creatures, including her fellow fairy godmothers.
The Red (Powder) Wedding
All the magical beings who live within the Moors are invited to the wedding of Aurora (Elle Fanning) and Phillip (Harris Dickinson). However, they're unaware that Phillip's mother, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), intends to use the opportunity to wipe out as many magical beings as she can. To that end, she orders her soldiers to seal the doors to the church once the guests are seated. Her henchwoman Gerda (Jenn Murray) then activates an organ full of the red powder Ingrith created that is instantly fatal to any magical creature that comes in contact with it.
The trap initially works well, with numerous magical beings killed Various magical creatures. With the amount of dust in the air increasing, and more magical beings caught in the cross hairs, the three Fairy Godmothers are at a loss for what to do. Eventually, Flittle (Lesley Manville) realizes the source of the deadly powder. Bidding her companions goodbye, Flittle flies into the organ, where she's struck by one of the dust balls, and transformed into flowers as she dies. Those flowers then fill the organ, preventing Gerda from using it to target the other creatures.
The Blue Fairy
The death of the Blue Fairy comes as a surprising blow late in the film. The Fairy Godmothers were principal characters in the original Sleeping Beauty, in which they endeavored to protect the infant Aurora from Maleficent's curse. The three are the only ones who escape the machinations of Maleficent, giving them the chance to rescue Phillip from his imprisonment in Maleficent's castle so that he can rush to save Aurora.
The characters were heavily tweaked for the original Maleficent. While they still protected and raised Aurora, they were portrayed as far less competent and in a much more comical light. But their importance to the story, even in the heavily modified form of Maleficent, was just too great to exorcise completely. However, they did have their personalities somewhat modified. In the original Sleeping Beauty, the Blue Fairy was Merryweather, who was short-tempered and protective. The Green Fairy was Fauna, an absent-minded but friendly woman. Their personalities were largely switched for Maleficent, making the Blue Fairy (now called Flittle) more like Fauna, and vice versa for Thislewit (Juno Temple), the new version of the Green Fairy. It actually makes the sacrifice much more potent, as the most innocent and friendly of the fairies is ultimately the one who is forced to save the others.
Say Yes To The Dress
The loss of the Blue Fairy is played up in some of the final moments of the film, in an extended reference to the original Sleeping Beauty. In the animated film, Merryweather and the Red Fairy Flora frequently argue about the color for Aurora's wedding dress. The film even ends with the pair changing the color scheme from red to blue even as Aurora dances in the ballroom. In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Thiselewit and Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), the Red Fairy of this world, have a similar bickering match. They change the color of Aurora's dress as she walks down the aisle from red to green. Eventually, their two colors mesh into a blue, and the pair decide to leave it that way in honor of Flittle.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil stands out as one of the only live-action Disney films to take serious departures from the events of the animated classic that inspired it. But it's a willingness to kill a character from the classic Disney canon out of nowhere is a huge deviation even for the new movies. It's also a refreshingly tragic moment, genuinely hitting an emotional beat in part because of the surprise of the moment and partly for the loss of a well-meaning and heroic character.
Directed by Joachim Rønning, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil stars Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Skrein, Jenn Murray, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Juno Temple and Brenton Thwaites. The film opens Friday nationwide.