Morticia describes death in simple terms: it’s always coming for you. Especially in the case of the real world, anything could kill you. However, it is my firm belief that this shouldn’t be the case in works of fiction—I’m not saying there isn’t a time for senseless violence, but it should always be in relationship to the story, never to the author.
I think many Disney movies have mastered this perfectly. In some ways, the really, really good deaths characterize the villains just as much as their actions did while alive. For that reason, I have decided to share my top five Disney villain deaths. I’d say they’re fabulous, but it’s death, so never mind.
5. Clayton (Tarzan)If you know Clayton’s character, he’s abrasive, self-serving, impatient, and a pirate, which ultimately says that it’s all about him, he is the one you should care about, and by the way—he’s the important one. Ironically, it his impatience, arrogance, and abrasiveness that discourage Tarzan from helping him. He hacks away at the vines alone, and is hanged by his own hand.
4. Mor’du (Brave)Okay, he was sort-of already dead. BUT when Elinor’s bear kills Mor’du’s bear, it shows that her devotion to her family trumps the abandonment he showed to his. Also, even though nobody is totally sure about menhirs, I bet being crushed by one indicates that history is catching up with him. The story doesn’t end there. When we see Mor’du has joined the will-o’-the-wisps, it reminds us that, just like in Elinor and Merida’s relationship, there’s always hope for redemption.
3. Judge Claude FrolloSome other time I must explain in full detail the artfulness of his villain song, but for now I shall summarize. He sings “Hellfire” to demand Esmerelda’s body from God, again bringing up the question: who is the monster, who is the man? Now, at the end, with the countenance of a bona fide demon, clasping the eyes of Notre Dame, Frollo falls into the (hell) fire below, bringing to a close all the ideas opened at the beginning. He is a monster. Esmerelda does not belong to him. And he will burn.
(Victor Hugo would probably murder me for loving that movie, but I do.)
|via College Humor|
2. Mother GothelAs I’ve mentioned, Mother Gothel is obsessed with youth and beauty. Not only is she the only Disney villain who dies of old age, but it suits her best—in payment for the murder, kidnapping, and injustice she bred to stay young, those stolen years finally catch up with her. Also, as she dies, she falls out of the tower, which is just interesting because at least from the Christian perspective, we tend to associate the “fall of Man” with sin. (Although, now that I think about it, a lot of Disney villains have a fall. Gaston, Maleficent, Hades, Clayton, so on.)
1. Dr. FacilierThroughout the movie, Dr. Facilier relies upon his “friends on the other side” to accomplish his means. He’s the Shadow Man. It’s kind of what he does. However, when his plans fall apart, it is his “friends” who take from him their due: his soul. The entire movie makes deals to avoid fulfilling his. In the end, he gets exactly what’s coming to him—a balanced ledger. Also, they sing. It is a very cheerful death. Are you ready?
Will I ever get tired of irony? NEVER! Do you need to have an ironic death for it to be a good one? Nah. I mean, Scar had a pretty good death and that was plain old vengeance. Ursula was stabbed in the stomach with a mast and that’s clear-cut good beating evil.
However, what my examples do illustrate is that even in kid’s movies, death is a significant matter. Dr. Facilier, Mother Gothel, Frollo, and Clayton have very ironic deaths. Mor’du’s death is symbolic. And the reason many of these deaths are satisfying is not just because these villains finally get what’s coming to them—they’re satisfying because that’s what they were trying to avoid in the first place.
Ah, death. It’s so much fun.