Disney’s “Cruella”

“Cruella” is a spectacular back story of one of Disney’s iconic female villains.


Elliana Bowers, News Editor

Aspiring fashion designer, Cruella, is out for her boss’s skin, seeking revenge, in this righteous film set in ‘70’s London, starring the fabulous Emmas—Stone and Thompson—in a rivalistic, dynamic pairing.

The Disney movie serves as an excellent origin story for this iconic villain. Drawing on the 1996 Disney classic “101 Dalmatians,” the film works to paint Cruella de Vil, not as an evil person, but rather as a misunderstood girl with a haunting past.

The movie is stylish, fun, wicked, and over the top in an absolutely fabulous way. The film is extremely well crafted and strung together with well known, yet not overdone, songs matched with fast paced scenes that make the audience feel like they are immersed in a multitude of dramatic music videos.

This unoriginal but recognizable orphan origin story, much like Heath Ledger’s “Joker,” centers around a quirky, head-strong girl, Estella, played by Emma Stone. Left to her own devices at a young age, Estella meets her sidekicks, Horace and Jasper. These two outcast young boys take her under their wing and teach her the ways of thievery. Years later they are still at their thieving gig, until Estella gets her big break at an honorable fashion department store.

As mentioned in Anna Khachiyan and Dasha Nekrasova’s most excellent “Red Scare” podcast, this movie is very much a “The Devil Wears Prada meets Oliver Twist”, which makes sense given that one of the screenwriters for this film is Aline Brosh McKenna, who wrote the screenplay for “The Devil Wears Prada.” Yet, it could be argued that it’s more “Oceans 11” than “Oliver Twist”, due to the characters’ heist-saturated motives.

While we’re on the topic, a similarly fitting name for the film could have been, “DeVil Wears Prada,” owing to its extravagant, cutthroat couture culture.

The DeVil Wears Prada-essence of the movie appears when the Baroness—the ruthless face of London’s high fashion—takes Estella in as her promising apprentice. But eventually Estella is consumed with the idea of destroying her ruthless mentor by reinventing herself through her punk-genius brand by the name “Cruella.”

The film is a parable of girl bossery on screen, achieving the desired reinvention of the female villain origin-myth story. Cruella wants to be like her role-model and then wipe her out. It’s not the Dalmatians’ skin Cruella wants to tear off and wear lavishly, it’s the Baroness’. The Baroness turns out to be the true villain in this revisionism. The Baroness is the ultimate cause of young Estella becoming the Cruella De Vil we are all too familiar with.

Throughout the movie tidbits of iconic accessories from “101 Dalmatians” are sprinkled about. Like the Pest Exterminator van that Horace and Jasper use as a cover, the posh and sleek car with the license plate “DeVille,” the janky red motorcycle Cruella rides away in, and the broken down warehouse that serves as their lair. This gives fans of the classic a sense of, “Ahh yes this makes sense, it all connects,” which is a very satisfying feeling. The movie is a must watch for young teens to adults of all ages.