The Thing I Like About … [spoiler alert]

Maleficent: the part where she tries to take back the curse.

In Maleficent, the title character has plenty of reason to be upset with people. Her heart has been broken by someone she had trusted completely, and she blames his transformation into a jerk on the corrupting aspects of the human world (well, of course, so does the audience, since one of the movie’s themes was on how far humans can fall from their better selves in their search for security, wealth, and power). Maleficent turns her back to the world, and freezes her heart, and looks on creation with a bitter eye. We’ve all been there – and if we had had the magic ability to wrap ourselves in a bubble of thorns, so many of us would have done it. We’ve all been there – and even if we never acted on it, we imagined vengeances and retributions upon those who shattered our trust.

So Maleficent curses Aurora to get back at Aurora’s jerk father … and she says in this pompous, swirly-magical voice that she curses Aurora, and that no power can undo this spell.

But Maleficent watches Aurora grow up, and becomes attached to this girl. She realizes that not every human is corrupt, and that she has let her personal pain affect a loved one – she has herself become someone who hurts others, the crime about which she had been so angry in the first place. She regrets her anger. She decides to undo what she has done.

But the echo of the pompous, swirly-magical voice fills the room – no power can undo this spell – and Maleficent’s attempt to reverse the spell fails. In her bitterness and sorrow, she’s allowed herself to become as cruel and uncaring as the one she sought to punish – she’s become as evil as the jerk who betrayed her. The things she allowed herself to do while in the grip of this heartbreak had consequences that eclipsed anything the jerk had done, and which reached farther out than any emotion could justify. Her actions while in the depth of shock and despair had created a problem she could not fix.

We’ve all been there.

After failing to reverse the curse, Maleficent shifts quickly to making the best of the situation as it is. She commits herself to Aurora, to protecting her as she “sleeps” forever, to doing what she can to mitigate her actions and to show her love, however tardy, however useless. In the depth of new shock and new despair, Maleficent chooses love.

Let’s all try to get there.

The Thing I Like About …

Doctor Who: the one where he tells Leela there’s nothing to be afraid of.

It was Tom-Baker-Doctor, and he was walking with Leela – the warrior girl (from stone-age culture, if I’m remembering right) through the bad guy’s castle. But the bad guy sends out this overwhelming psychic message of fear, and Leela describes feeling hunted, and watched, and says that’s she terribly, terribly afraid. The Doctor explains to her about the bad guy’s psychic fear-miasma, and tells her that it’s all an illusion, and that actually nothing is there that can hurt her.

She blinks, and repeats back what he said to make sure she understood … and then she squares her shoulders and walks on, completely ignoring from that point forward any fear messages her brain is sending her.

She trusts the Doctor – who doesn’t? – so she is able just to ignore this crippling fear being visited upon her.

I wish it was as easy as that for me to overcome my fears, and to do things anyway.

But if Leela can do that when faced with this external fear-force, maybe we can learn to do it with things that we know – we know – we’re only making scary in our own heads. Maybe we can work on trust, and having faith in our own abilities. Maybe we can look at the things that scare us and see them for what they truly are – (usually) tiny little bad guys sending out itty-bitty psychic fear messages that we don’t actually have to listen to. Maybe we can square our shoulders and walk on, ignoring all the stuff we don’t need in our lives and focusing instead on what we do need, and want, and search for.

Leela keeps walking until she confronts the bad guy, and throws him out of his own castle.

Let’s do that.