Sometimes you don't purposely seek inspiration, you just stumble across it. It's like finding a gold mine. In this case maybe it shouldn't have been so surprising, but I didn't remember the previews for the movie and hadn't remembered Sleeping Beauty catching my interest much as a child.

When I watched Maleficent and saw the Moors for the first time I just wanted to pause the movie and soak it in. The fantasy world they created was gorgeous, it felt real, and focused heavily on a natural setting, with it's own creatures, and so much detail. It is the epitome of what I love to create in my work.

The Moors were created by the world building expert, Robert Stromberg (Avatar, Life of Pi) and because of his work this movie is one I can keep coming back too and see something new every time. The composition of each frame is perfect. The way you move from a wide shot into a close up and it feels so natural. The scene is set so your eyes take in the entire scene and then move to focus on piece of the frame and that is where the camera ends up zooming into.

In the beginning the Moors is a world of earth tones bathed in golden light. It is mountainous and green, filled with waterfalls and lakes. Anything seen in the distance gets a bit hazy with an illustrative touch that mimics the original movie. Every piece of the world has character and emotion, the trees are anthropomorphized with human features that show emotion. In this world made up purely of mountains, trees, and water that supports all its living creatures there is a sense of respect and reverence in all who are welcomed there.

When Maleficent loses her wings the Moors becomes a darker place as her environment reflects her emotions. Chiaroscuro is used very successfully to change the feeling of the environment to match that emotion without fundamentally changing the character of the place. It is a place of beauty that been driven into a harsher reality from the shattering of blissful ignorance and innocence.

Including scenes set at night during the darkest time in the land and the darkest time of day while still maintaining the beauty and wonder gives you faith that it can all be restored, that all is not lost, or quite as bad as it seems. With creatures called Waller Bogs, who are both cute and gross, playing and slinging mud and Dew Faires who glow with blue light in the night the Moors still feels untouched and pure.

I love how the characters are so unique, yet they bring in pieces of our reality, and each creature has an otherworldly beauty but is also ugly. A child shows wonder while some less openminded might show disgust or horror. This movies setting and emotion truly reflects that of an open minded child against that of a greedy close minded adult as it was intended.

This reminds me to consider how I might edit the scene of an image to reflect the emotion of the moment and individual featured.

Visit my Inspiration - Movies Pinterest board to reference movie stills of the scenes I discuss above:

Reference article with Robert Stromberg: