Maleficent is a 2014 American dark fantasy film directed by Robert Stromberg from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton, and starring Angelina Jolie as the title character with Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville in supporting roles. Loosely inspired by Charles Perrault’s original fairy tale and Walt Disney’s 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty, the film portrays the story from the perspective of the eponymous antagonist, depicting her conflicted relationship with the princess and king of a corrupt kingdom.
Maleficent is a powerful fairy living in the Moors, a magical forest realm bordering a human kingdom. As a young girl, Maleficent meets and falls in love with a human peasant boy named Stefan, whose love for Maleficent is overshadowed by his ambition. As they become older, the two grow apart and Maleficent becomes protector of the Moors.
When King Henry tries to conquer the Moors, Maleficent mortally wounds him and forces him to retreat. As he lies dying, he declares that whoever kills Maleficent will be named his successor and marry his daughter, Princess Leila. Stefan visits Maleficent in the Moors, drugs her, but is unable to bring himself to kill Maleficent. Instead, he cuts off her wings with iron, which is lethal to fairies, and presents them to the king. Devastated by Stefan’s betrayal, Maleficent turns the Moors into a dark kingdom and recruits a shapeshifter named Diaval as her spy and servant.
After some time, Diaval informs Maleficent that Stefan, now king, is hosting a christening for his newborn daughter, Aurora. Bent on revenge, Maleficent arrives uninvited and curses the infant princess; on her 16th birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a deep sleep from which she will never awaken. When Stefan begs for mercy, Maleficent mocks him and offers an antidote; the curse can only be broken by true love’s kiss, which Maleficent and Stefan are sure is nonexistent.
Fearing for his daughter’s safety, Stefan sends Aurora to live with three pixies—Knotgrass, Thistlewit, and Flittle—until the day after her 16th birthday, while he destroys all the spinning wheels in the kingdom and hides their remnants in the castle dungeon. Stefan sends his armies to find and kill Maleficent, but she surrounds the Moors with an impenetrable wall of thorns. This causes Stefan to slip into madness and paranoia, trying to prevent the curse, even neglecting to see his wife on her deathbed.
Despite her initial dislike for Aurora, Maleficent begins to care for her when the bumbling and neglectful pixies fail to do so. After a brief meeting with the young Aurora, Maleficent watches over her from afar. When Aurora is 15, she encounters Maleficent. Knowing that she is being watched over, Aurora begins to call Maleficent her “fairy godmother”, an act which causes Maleficent to try and undo the curse, but she is unsuccessful — the curse is unbreakable by any means other than true love’s kiss. Meanwhile, in the forest, Aurora meets a young prince named Philip, and the two are attracted to each other.
On the day before Aurora’s 16th birthday, Aurora tells Maleficent that she would like to live with her in the Moors. When Aurora returns to the cottage, the pixies inadvertently tell Aurora of her past and Maleficent’s true identity. Aurora runs to her father’s castle, upset that Maleficent had never told her about the curse.
After a brief reunion with his daughter, Stefan locks her away in a room for her own safety while setting up a plan to kill Maleficent. However, the power of the curse draws Aurora to the dungeon, where a spinning wheel magically reassembles itself. Aurora pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep, fulfilling the curse. Maleficent, intent on saving her, abducts Phillip and infiltrates Stefan’s castle, but Phillip’s kiss fails to awaken Aurora. At her bedside, Maleficent apologizes to Aurora and kisses her forehead. Aurora awakens, as Maleficent’s motherly feelings towards her count as true love.
However, as Maleficent and Aurora attempt to leave, they are ambushed by Stefan and his guards, who drop an iron net on Maleficent. Maleficent transforms Diaval into a dragon, who battles Stefan’s guards, but he is eventually captured as well. Stefan taunts Maleficent, who is dizzy and sick from the iron, his former love for her fully gone.
Before he can deliver the final blow, Aurora finds Maleficent’s wings and releases them, upon which they fly to Maleficent and reattach themselves. Maleficent carries Stefan to the top of the castle’s highest tower but cannot bring herself to kill him. However, Stefan attacks Maleficent as she turns away, and they both plummet from the tower, entwined. Maleficent opens her wings and Stefan loses his grip, falling to his death.
In the end, Maleficent returns the Moors to its former glory, and Aurora is crowned queen to unify the two kingdoms. Prince Phillip stands by as she is crowned and the two jovially smile at one another.