Cruella: Disney’s Era of Evil

The recent "Cruella" movie weaves a unique backstory to one of Disney's most iconic, fashionable villains ever to hit the big screen.

October 27, 2021

On May 28, 2021, Disney released a new movie called “Cruella”- a film telling the origin story of the infamous, dog-napping villain Cruella de Vil.  She was the villain of “101 Dalmatians” where she kidnapped a family’s beloved dalmatian dogs in an attempt to make them into a fur coat.  This new movie is a fresh take on Cruella’s backstory, with a totally different plot than the original Disney story she starred in, consistent action, and plot twists that the audience never saw coming.

“Cruella” came out for free on Disney + on August 27th, with a rating of PG-13,  and received a satisfying 4.7 star review from the public.  This isn’t Disney’s first time exploring villain stories, as some might remember the two Maleficent movies that have come out in recent years.  But instead of kidnapping a family’s puppies, Cruella is a spunky, talented, black-and-white-haired, aspiring fashion designer in 1970’s Punk Rock London – and a thief. 

The real name of Cruella, played in the film by renowned actress Emma Stone, is Estella; Cruella being the name her mother called her when she misbehaved. Estella witnessed her mother’s tragic death when she was a little girl, and blames the sudden end to her mother’s life on herself.  She flees the scene and ends up an orphan on the streets. She quickly meets a band of other homeless children that steal to survive.  

When she grows up, she lands her dream job: a fashion designer working for the fashion legend – and intimidating, narcissistic boss – Baroness von Hellman.  She becomes close with the Baroness.   But one night changes everything when she discovers the Baroness is the real person responsible for her mother’s death.

Estella becomes dead set on revenge and takes on a wicked side with the alter ego Cruella, as she dedicates her every second to destroying the Baroness’s fashion empire and successful life. She loses herself in the process and falls deeper and deeper into her villainous, cold personality.

One student at SDHS who watched this film, sophomore Zoe Mancillas, exclaims that “The movie was honestly pretty good. I really loved all of the looks that she gave and Emma Stone really played that role so good.”  She explains that there is nothing she disliked about this movie and that it was “just overall amazing.” She rates “Cruella” a 4/5 (with one being bad, five being the best.)

This movie is action-packed from beginning to end and truly never stops the excitement.  There are several shocking – and genius – plot twists throughout the film that creates a story that will have the audience reminiscing over and discussing for days.

Unlike Disney’s “Maleficent” retelling which stuck to the original actions of Maleficent in the Disney classic “Sleeping Beauty,” Cruella’s story is unrecognizable from the original “101 Dalmations” tale.  Cruella does eventually kidnap some dalmatians, but not for malicious reasons. And despite the rumors, the anti-hero never killed any of the dogs for a fur coat.

It may not be the origin story retelling that “101 Dalmatians” fans imagined, but “Cruella” is an impressive movie that most of its viewers agree couldn’t be more worth the watch.   And spoiler alert: a sequel has already been confirmed.


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