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|“||You certainly have the talent, but whether or not you have the killer instinct is the big question...||„|
|~ Baroness von Hellman's most famous quote when talking to Estella/Cruella.|
|“||Cruella De Vil: You killed my mother!
Baroness von Hellman: You're going to have to be more specific...
|~ The Baroness revealing how evil she truly is after Cruella explains her motivation for trying to ruin her.|
|~ The Baroness taunting Cruella before supposedly killing her, in turn accidentally causing her own downfall.|
Baroness von Hellman is the main antagonist of the 2021 black comedy crime film Cruella.
She is an esteemed fashion designer operating in London and the founder of the House of Baroness who is fiercely protective of her position and reputation. She is also the biological mother and arch-nemesis of Cruella De Vil.
She was portrayed by Emma Thompson, who also played Lesa in Hoodwinked!, Karen Eiffel in Stranger Than Fiction, The Woman in Lutins, Sarafine Duchannes in Beautiful Creatures and The Yeti Elder in Missing Link.
In the past, Baroness Von Hellman married Baron Von Hellman and eventually gave birth to his daughter. While the Baron was a benevolent man and a caring father to his unborn child, The Baroness did not take her pregnancy with joy, and instead she wanted to get rid of the baby.
After Estella was born, the Baroness was unable to handle the possibility of her own daughter upstaging her, so she ordered her valet and confidante John to kill Estella in secret. John was unable to kill a newborn baby, so instead he gave it to Catherine Miller, a kind-hearted maid to raise her. The Baroness lied to the Baron that she had suffered a miscarriage, causing the Baron to die from a broken heart while the latter was on a business trip.
The Baroness Von Hellman is a renowned but notorious and authoritative fashion designer and the owner of the fashion couture company, House of Baroness. Her notoriety made her a public figure and a role model of sorts to a young Estella. During a surprise visit to one of her many stores in London, particularly on the Liberty department store, the Baroness notices the wild window store display.
She also witnesses Estella and her two friends Jasper and Horace being arrested on the scene. Baroness learns that Estella is responsible for the window display and commends her talent, coldly telling the shop owner that it's the best display the store has in years. She promptly hires Estella as a fashion designer at the House of Baroness.
She quickly becomes impressed by Estella's designs and sees promise and a potential in her talents. One day, Estella recognizes her mother Catherine's necklace around the Baroness’s neck. Baroness spins a tale of a former employee who stole it from her. Estella realizes that Catherine went to see the Baroness the night of her death (of which Catherine falls to her death onto the cliffside balcony), and it was her gala that they've attended.
Estella hatches a plan to steal the necklace, which includes turning herself into her alter-ego Cruella to disguise her identity and to distract Baroness and the guests attending the gala, while Jasper and Horace work together to steal the necklace. Baroness loves the center of attention and demands that everyone in attendance wear black and white, though she wears a stunning and far more superior and remarkable dress to her guests.
Cruella crashes the gala in a white cloak that goes up in flames to reveal a red dress (of which Estella purchased the dress from a vintage fashion shop owner, Artie, that Estella recently acquainted with), stealing the spotlight from the Baroness in the process (much to the Baroness' annoyance and frustration). Baroness' interest piques at the masked guest, and they quickly start talking about who Cruella is. Cruella notices the necklace around Baroness' neck, so Jasper releases rats to distract her while Cruella steals the necklace.
Amidst the pandemonium and chaos, the Baroness uses a dog whistle to command her Dalmatian dogs, and Estella realizes that Baroness used the same whistle to direct her dogs to kill Catherine. One of the Dalmatians eats the necklace while Cruella, Horace, and Jasper flee in a stolen Panther de Ville.
The following day, Cruella orders the duo to kidnap the three Dalmatians until one of them gives up the necklace. Baroness is outraged upon hearing the news of the abduction of her dogs and demands the police find, identify, and arrest Cruella.
Now with a proper motivation for revenge, Cruella plans to avenge her mother’s death by ruining the Baroness’s life. She taunts and upstages the Baroness by appearing at her events and gatherings in lavish and extravagant outfits, which drew the attention and notoriety via Estella's childhood friend, Anita Darling, who is working as a gossip columnist. All the while, Baroness' sales continuously drop as Cruella rises in fame. She becomes unhinged in her efforts to identify Cruella, even firing her lawyer, Roger, for failing to do so.
Later, Baroness' spring collection show was eventually sabotaged after a swarm of South American moths (which were smuggled by Horace into the building as gold embroidery and were used by Estella to create a signature dress gown) were unleashed on show from the vault, which destroyed the signature dress gown and all the other dress creations in the process, angering the Baroness. Not long after, Estella sets up her own show in Regent's Park, which attracted the attention of the guests fleeing the sabotaged Baroness' spring collection show and during the show, Estella was seen wearing a faux Dalmatian-fur coat to further taunt the Baroness.
The Baroness then deduces that Cruella is Estella and are the same person, which led to the Baroness and her henchmen locating her secret hideout, and then captures Jasper and Horace. Baroness attempts to murder Cruella in a fire, to pin the latter's death on Jasper and Horace. Suddenly, Estella, along with Wink and Buddy were rescued by John, the Baroness's right-hand-man, confidante, and valet, who then brings Cruella along with her dogs to his house to recover. John then shows Estella the key hidden on the necklace, which unlocks a box containing her birth records and John then reveals the truth to Estella of being the biological daughter to the Baroness while detailing the story of the Baroness ordering John to have the infant Estella murdered to pursue her own career and keep the inheritance (particularly the fortune, mansion, and the title), which puts Estella in shock and denial. Soon after, Estella then adopts and embraced her identity as "Cruella", while making peace with the truth and acknowledging her adoptive mother's efforts in an way to complete her vengeance, and then rescues Jasper and Horace out of prison, and recruits them along with John and Artie for her final scheme
Baroness plans her final gala of the season, but is extremely annoyed to see all her guests donning black and white wigs that resemble Cruella's hair in honor and respect on her passing, though she pretends that it's her idea to appease the crowd and feigns an honor out of Cruella's memory. Later, Cruella (dressed as Estella) lures Baroness outside to the cliffs, and Baroness orders her dogs to attack Cruella, though the latter easily commands them to her sides (after stealing the whistle in secret earlier, while dressed as Cruella). Estella then reveals her identity as Baroness' daughter.
Baroness feigns remorse for Estella for abandoning and trying to kill her, though when they embrace, she pushes Estella over the cliffs to her death. Horace, along with John and Artie had guided the guests outside the mansion so the entire debacle is witnessed by police officers, security guards, and guests alike. Realizing too late that everyone saw her true nature, she tries to cover up her actions by saying that Cruella jumped and tried to drag her with her, but no one was fooled by that lie.
Meanwhile, Estella survives the fall with a well-trimmed skirt made into a parachute. With Estella's murder, Baroness is arrested and the family’s fortune is inherited by Cruella de Vil per Estella’s will. As she is taken to jail, Baroness screams about Cruella being Estella, though no one believes her. She then swears revenge against Estella. It's completely unknown what happened with the Baroness afterwards or if she ever tried to put in place her revenge on Cruella, but given her crimes, it's highly likely that the Baroness was sent to prison for life.
The Baroness was a psychopath, plain and simple. She had virtually no care or affection for anyone but herself, was incredibly superficial, spiteful and cruel to an insane degree, going as far as ordering her own child killed so she didn't have to raise her while also being perfectly capable of murder by herself if it was in her best interest.
She was also extremely egotistical, being described by her butler John as being a narcissist and she proves this herself with the only real approval she gives anyone being when she begrudgingly or apathetically showing admiration for the talent in others.
She is also quite cutthroat, being more than willing to take credit for the work of others and abuse those who work under her.
Overall she acts like a child throwing a tantrum. If she doesn't get her way, the Baroness lashes out and blames others; unwilling to take responsibility for her own faults. This leads to her firing Rogers after he couldn't find out who Cruella was.
The Baroness was a middle aged woman with pale skin, striking features and a slender figure. She has short, thick brown hair which she wore in a variety of styles and brown eyes. She also has an expensive and extravagant taste in fashion which is to be expected given her profession, with her wearing a variety of different high fashion suits and dresses over the course of the film.
- The Baroness is a much more fleshed out character than Cruella De Vil's mother in the 101 Dalmatians TV series.
- The Baroness is implied to have killed multiple people in a similar fashion to how she did to Catherine throughout her life, given her response to Cruella's declaration that she killed her mother.
- Baroness von Hellman is the first main antagonist of a 101 Dalmatians movie not to feature Cruella De Vil as the main leading antagonist. In all other movies of the franchise, animated or live-action, Cruella was always the main antagonist. However, in the 2003 direct-to-video film 101 Dalmatians: Patch's London Adventure, Cruella shared the main antagonist role with Lil' Lightning.
- Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Julianne Moore, and Demi Moore were originally considered for playing the role of The Baroness, before Dame Emma Thompson was cast in the role.
- The Baroness claims that she owns her employees' ideas because it's in their contracts.
- This is wrong in the fact that even with Roger being her lawyer, she has to have PROPER legal contacts, her employees wouldn't have signed them if they didn't get credit for their work.
- Estella never signed a contract, so she was truly stealing her idea