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  • Writer's pictureAaron Fonseca

How Cruella's Dalmatian Fixation Differs in the Disney Prequel

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Cruella, now playing in theaters and streaming on Disney+ Premier Access.

For a movie that revolves around a puppy-fur coveting villain, Disney's Cruella is a lot more dog-friendly than you might expect. In fact, the Cruella we meet in this origin story actually likes dogs and even has one of her own, an adorable mutt named Buddy. Dalmatians still play a key role in the movie, but this time instead of 101 of them, there are just three -- and they belong to the movie's antagonist, the Baroness.

Cruella's first encounter with the Baroness' dalmatians happens when she's a child known as Estella. When brash, rebellious Estella gets kicked out of her school, Estella's mother, Catherine, moves them to London. But before they get there, Catherine makes a stop at a remote mansion so she can request some money from the Baroness, who we learn later is her wealthy former employer. The Baroness has no compassion for Catherine, however, and instead of lending her the money, she uses a dog whistle to call her dalmatians, who push Catherine off the cliff she's standing beside.

Estella witnesses her mother's death at the paws of the trio of dogs, which seems like it will establish the foundation of Cruella's hatred of dalmatians. However, this is a clever bit of misdirection on the movie's part. In reality, Estella isn't angry at the dogs. Instead, she recognizes that it wasn't the dalmatians that killed her mother but the person behind their actions.

Years later, when the Baroness becomes Estella's boss and Estella sees her wearing her mother's necklace, she decides to assume her wicked alter-ego, Cruella, to take it back. Her elaborate plan, which involves her friends Horace and Jasper and takes place during the Baroness' Black and White Ball, creates all kinds of chaos. During the mayhem, one of the dalmatians ends up swallowing the necklace.

Estella is still unwilling to let go of the idea of getting her jewelry back, though, so for the very first time, she deploys Horace and Jasper to kidnap the dalmatians. Of course, her objective this time isn't to skin and make a coat out of them; she's waiting for the necklace to pass through whichever dog swallowed it. In the meantime, Estella, Horace and Jasper take care of the dalmatians. The dogs are difficult at first, displaying the viciousness the Baroness attributes to them, but soon they become like a new part of the family.

While Estella has the Baroness' dogs, things between the pair escalate, so Cruella debuts a spotted black-and-white coat during a surprise fashion show to upstage the Baroness on the night of what should have been her runway extravaganza. The Baroness believes Cruella has killed and skinned her dalmatians to create the coat and Cruella uses this assumption to increase her notoriety, even though the truth is she hasn't hurt the dogs at all, just copied the pattern of their fur.

In the end, Estella gets her revenge on the Baroness by framing her for murder and, with her nemesis locked away, she officially inherits the Baroness' three dalmatians, who now seem completely at ease with the title character. Moreover, Cruella's appreciation for dalmatians is further confirmed when she gives both her former schoolmate, Anita Darling, and the Baroness' former lawyer, Roger, a dalmatian puppy. She even names the dogs Perdita and Pongo, the names of the future parents of the puppies she eventually kidnaps to make a fur coat in One Hundred and One Dalmatians. It's hard to say what happens after the end of Cruella that would make the currently dog-loving character turn on dalmatians so wickedly, but one thing's for sure: in Cruella, the dogs are all right.

Yes it is so worth watching!!!

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