Comparing 2021’s Cruella to 1961’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians may hold a lesson about how we want to live


One Hundred and One Dalmatians. (Disney)

This summer, Disney released a new take on its classic villain Cruella de Vil. But although I very much enjoyed Cruella, its biggest gift to me was inspiring me to go home and re-watch Cruella’s original appearance in the 1961 animated classic One Hundred and One Dalmatians.

The new Cruella is all about the extraordinary, but I have to admit, I found the old animated movie much more striking — not because it matched the fast-paced plot twists and jaw-dropping visuals of its 2021 counterpart, but in fact the opposite. I was struck by how unhurried the plot was, and by the quiet and subtle charm of a movie where not that much actually happens.

If pre-pandemic life were a movie, it would be a lot like Cruella: every moment was action-packed, everyone was constantly hustling just to stay afloat, and there was rarely, if ever, a chance to catch your breath. And while that nonstop pace might make for an entertaining couple hours, it certainly wasn’t working in our real lives, where the pressure was leaving us all burnt out and overstimulated.

Cruella. (Disney)

But the pandemic has made us switch genres. As we’ve been forced to slow down, it’s become clear that there is joy to be found in aspects of our lives that sometimes seem mundane. Old Disney movies, like One Hundred and One Dalmatians, centre around these simple, day-to-day beauties and take an unrushed approach while still being entertaining, and funny, and magical. I wonder if they might serve as an example of how embracing a slower pace can benefit art, as well as artists.


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