Here’s the question of the day: is Disney’s Cruella movie a depiction of glamorized evil, or is it an invitation to get to know a character typically perceived as an enemy in the way God would see and love her? Perhaps the correct answer isn’t one or the other, but both.
I did enjoy watching the movie, as it was lively and had a good storyline. Originally named Estella, Cruella was the name her adopted mother would use when Estella’s behavior was negative towards others. After being orphaned, Estella used the persona of Cruella deVil to avenge the death of her adopted mother, Catherine, and ultimately taking the name Cruella on permanently.
When the movie ended, my first thought was that it was glorifying bad behavior; that stealing and creating havoc is acceptable. Especially since the very end is a triumph for Cruella as she buries her original persona of Estella. It is a happy ending for Cruella as she gets everything she has wanted. She’s embraced what she believes is her true self, one of mischief and trouble, rather than the qualities Catherine encouraged her to practice, kindness and compassion. Evil qualities are prominent in her birth mother, the Baroness, and even after realizing that she was responsible for Catherine’s death, Cruella still seeks that lifestyle for herself.
Even as a youngster, Estella was a troubled girl. She would promise her mother that she would behave, but it was like she couldn’t help herself. If she didn’t instigate the trouble, she would respond to it as she encountered it. Estella’s adopted mother sees the gift she has for fashion and encourages that in the young child. She tries to nurture Estella out of her bad behavior. The scenes from her early days provide insight to a person who is struggling with the battle of good and evil. It’s this perspective that makes me see how God can love those that other people consider a hated enemy. God sees the total person, what they are capable of, and what their struggles are.
I know it’s only a story and it has to end with Estella transforming into Cruella, but in some ways this movie excuses bad behavior, or at the very least makes it acceptable. I guess Disney, being who they are, has to have a happy ending, but I think it could have been written to be more foreboding, rather than gleefully happy. There are moments where Cruella does realize that she needs to be good to her friends, going as far as apologizing to them. Though goodness resides within her soul, she’s chosen to embrace the evil persona.
I don’t want to say that I liked the movie, but it does make a person think about those they dislike or consider an enemy, and wonder what their story is. Many factors have gone into making them into the troublesome people they are today. While the movie is geared more for children due to the main character being the villain of 101 Dalmatians, I’d say its message is more for adults, as it makes them think about the choices they’ve made and how they’ve made them. It also reminds us that everyone struggles and that we only see the aspects of their character that they choose to show to the world. There is so much more that makes up each individual.
As Catholics, we are called to love our enemies and treat them as fellow children of God. Movies like Cruella, can give us insight and help us develop compassion to make every effort to love all people the way that God loves us.