Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Isn't That a New Fur Coat?

Promotional Image for the 1996 movie

Born on May 3rd, 1896, Dodie Smith is best known for her novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, written in 1956. This novel has been adapted into a movie twice, an animated feature in 1961 and a live-action movie in 1996. In both cases, the movies were box office successes and spawned sequels. And a Broadway musical!!!

It's a children's story, so the plot isn't complex or overly coherent. However, the somewhat remedial story is saved by a truly memorable antagonist, Cruella de Vil. Asides from the fact that she wants to skin the puppies to make a fur coat, she's just a loathsome and aggressive character. She's so extreme in her villainy that she becomes iconic. Cruella defines the archetypal vain rich lady who needs to get whatever catches her fancy, ethical or not.

Another element to the Hundred and One Dalmatians is that it presages the whole anti-fur trend that came into prominence in the early '90s, most notably in the social campaigns of PETA and the Humane Society. In the history of animal welfare, this novel is published right at the beginning of the modern trend toward animal rights. It is therefore an interesting expression of this zeitgeist.

Here's a vid:

Here's a link to Dodie Smith's Wikipedia page.

Here's a link to The Hundred and One Dalmatian page.

And here's a link to the Humane Society's website.

And here's PETA.

Now, get those puppies!!!

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