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CULTURE ARTICLE

Trailer Tunes: ‘Maleficent’ & Lana Del Rey’s Haunting ‘Once Upon A Dream’

At the intersection of movie trailers and music, what does Lana Del Rey’s eerie cover tell us about Angelina Jolie’s new take on the classic Disney villainess?

There's always so much to unpack about a movie trailer: the stars, the selected scenes, the plot and how much of it is given totally away. But in many cases, the element of the trailer that sticks with you the longest is the music. Whether the sound is from a pop song or an orchestral score, the music most often makes a trailer.This Week’s Trailer: Released during last night’s Grammy Awards ceremony, the new teaser trailer for the highly anticipated Maleficent that stars Angelina Jolie as one of the most memorable baddies in Disney history. The film explores Maleficent’s backstory, specifically the events that lead to the memorable curse that she hangs on Princess Aurora (played by Elle Fanning).

This Week’s Tune: Lana Del Rey’s creepy rendition of ‘Once Upon a Dream,’ originally performed by Mary Costa in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. While both versions are adapted from Tchaikovsky's famed ballet, Del Rey’s unnerving update is far cry from Costa’s sickeningly sweet and happy version in the 1959 animated film.

How Literal Is It? Pretty literal except that the “dream” is now a nightmare. As the trailer flashes scenes of Maleficent plotting to destroy Aurora and her father, King Stefan (played by Sharlto Copley), Lana Del Rey’s ethereal voice provides an unsettling audio backdrop. We hear Del Rey’s voice singing “Yet I know it's true that visions are seldom all they seem,” Maleficent, with her accentuated cheekbones and animal-like horns, glides into the scene taking center stage. As her image attests, this is not the version of Sleeping Beauty that your parents watched in the 50s.

How Emotional Is It? Lana Del Rey’s evocative and otherworldly vocal style changes “Once Upon a Dream” from a song that was once hopeful and romantic to a disturbingly eerie accompaniment to a trailer that already is decidedly dark.

How Definitive Is It? Lana Del Rey’s reinvention of the beloved Disney classic is a bold move for the studio, but it’s a move that pays off handsomely if the trailer is any evidence.

Overall Trailer Tune Effectiveness: It’s a hoot to see Angelina Jolie slip into the role of Maleficent (a role she was clearly born to play), but this latest teaser would not be half as successful without Del Rey’s spooky cover. It’s no wonder that Jolie allegedly handpicked the artist to revamp this well-known tune. As the May 30 release date for Maleficent gets closer, expect to see and hear more from these two talented ladies. 

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