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Cruella: why Disney and other studios are trying to create sympathy for the devil

By Leora Hadas, Assistant Professor, Film and Television Studies, University of Nottingham
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This article contains spoilers for the film Cruella.

Cruella, Disney’s live-action movie about the early years of fictional Dalmatian hater Cruella de Vil, has joined a trend of films that seek to invite sympathy for the devil, specifically the cartoon and comic-book villains of our childhoods.

In theory, Cruella presents a difficult question: what kind of tragic backstory could lead the audience to sympathise with a villain who wants to kill and skin puppies? In practice, however, this gorgeous yet predictable film tells us very little about the psychology of evil…

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