For a while now, I have thought I have a twisted brain. I watch movies – and feel bad for the villain. There must be something wrong with me. Of course, I know, a villain is a villain, and all the evil in the story is coming from that end. I know, and I agree, there must be punishment. But my nature keeps considering if there wouldn’t be a ‘better’ punishment than the one they were going through…
Let me explain what I mean by providing you with a few examples:
Movie – Van Helsing
We have one ‘villain’ in that movie that my heart was bleeding for. Prince Velkan, brother to Princess Anna, was turned into a Werewolf to be used for the vampire Dracula’s dark and evil purposes. The Prince didn’t have a chance. He was shot by Van Helsing’s silver bullet and died in his sister’s arms in sunlight when he was turned back into a man.
I know, that Werewolf followed Dracula’s orders, plundered, scared, injured, and killed people! He did, what his Werewolf nature made him do.
But none of that was his fault. He was tortured by Dracula’s servant, hit, abused, hurt, injured, and had to give in to dark magic malpractice. And still, there was no happy ending for him. He died. Wasn’t that worth a few tears?
Movie – The Witches Of Eastwick
We all know him: Daryl Van Horne, bewitching three single women in the small town of Eastwick, Alexandra, Sukie, and Jane. He walks into their world and shakes up their lives. The affair between the four of them ends up in a possessive, controlling relationship that threatens to destroy the happy ‘foursome’, the population of Eastwick, and in particular, the friendship between the three women. In self-defense, Alex, Sukie, and Jane pick up the dark stranger’s dangerous magic and turn it against him in the hope of making him leave and disappear out of their lives as he had shown up. Unfortunately, his powers are far stronger than theirs, and in the process, their former ‘little devil’ shows his true face… the one of the big devil. And he fights back. With the help of a wax-doll and a kitchen fire, the three women manage to win the fight, which ends up in their opponent’s disappearance after he had melted from an over-dimensional monster into a gnarled little ridiculous caricature of himself. The big epic ‘battle’ ends with that slowly spinning, odd little gnome disappearing with a quiet ‘pop’ into nowhere, leaving back only a few sparkles. I had a lot of fun watching these scenes for the longest time, but still, I felt that tiny sting of regret to see the mighty antagonist being exposed to ridicule. I cannot explain it. I have been laughed about too often not to confuse ‘a simple joke’ with malicious exposure to ridicule, apparently even if it’s the one of a villain.
Movie – Beetlejuice
Most of us know the movie. Beetlejuice, who ‘helps’ dead people do whatever necessary to make them comfortable in their afterlife. Of course, he only helps others to gain access to the world of the living. In the movie, it’s the Maitlands he sends advertisements to, calling himself a bio-exorcist. The Maitlands are recently deceased and don’t know anything about the complicated bureaucracy in the afterlife. Desperately trying to get the new owners out of their house, they meet Lydia, the daughter. Finally, Beetlejuice is freed, only to, of course, turn everything upside-down and try to use Lydia for his advantage. In the end, Beetlejuice is sent back to the afterlife, and in the waiting room, he enrages a powerful medicine man who turns him into a shrunken head. Of course, I know how selfish and obnoxious Beetlejuice is. (By the way: what a phenomenal acting performance, Michael Keaton!). But still, I think, in this case, I ‘suffer’ from the same feeling as I do in the former example. I feel sorry for the shrunken head. It’s, in a way, so funny, but also, it’s ridiculous; and ‘poor’ Beetlejuice now has to go through eternity like that, with everyone laughing about him? I feel bad for him, and I’m not sure why…
Movie – Pride & Prejudice
Now, in Pride and Prejudice, I picked Fitzwilliam Darcy’s two proposals mainly. In the 2005 movie, the first one set up in the rain, Elizabeth Bennet rejects him mentioning his arrogance, the destruction of her sister Jane’s growing love connection to his friend Bingley, and his contempt towards Mr. Wickham. Of course, at this point, she doesn’t know the entire truth; she only believes she knows it. Elizabeth overheard Mr. Darcy talking to his friend Bingley at a ball and hurting Elizabeth’s feelings and pride. She had never even taken his timidity and the pressure and high expectations of his family and society into consideration. Without knowing him, she yells his flaws into his face and lets him stand in the rain. Having hurt Elizabeth’s feelings by saying she was ‘barely tolerable, and not beautiful enough to tempt him’ was indeed no masterstroke on Darcy’s side. Still, he didn’t know she was listening. Does that make him a ‘villain’? No, I don’t think it does. Why is he still in this blog? Well, I detested his behavior towards Elizabeth, her sister Jane, and their family (and I’m not saying he wasn’t right!). However, I still somewhat cringe to see him standing there embarrassing himself, drowning in arrogance, smug self-importance, and rainwater. Yes, for a moment, I felt the tiniest string of malicious glee. And still, I felt terrible for him. Elizabeth’s words got him off his high horse, and he was lucky not to break his neck, figuratively spoken. The following events in the movie revealed quite some truth to Elizabeth and also changed Mr. Darcy. He, the second time, carefully considered his words to propose to Elizabeth… and she accepted. ‘Changing the villain’? Maybe, in a way, even though I still wouldn’t use the expression ‘villain’ in connections with Fitzwilliam Darcy’s name. Everyone knows the bad one in this story is Wickham… and a very young, foolish sister called Lydia.
Movie – The Mummy returns
I admit, the Mummy and the Mummy Returns are a couple of my favorite movies, and if I want to be entertained without thinking much, I turn them on. Here we have Imhotep, High Priest of a Pharaoh of the old Egyptian empire, who desired the Pharaoh’s lover, Anck-sun-amun. When the Pharaoh finds out about the affair, he has them both ‘eliminated,’ together with Imhotep’s priests. Imhotep himself was killed with the most horrible of all curses, the ‘Homdai.’ Unfortunately, tomb raiders, under the seal of archeology, find the sarcophagus and bring the High Priest back into the world. All Imhotep tries to do is getting his lover, Anck-sun-amun, back. He kills some of his grave robbers by ‘sucking them dry’ to re-create himself. He brings the old Egyptian plagues back to the world and tries to kidnap Evie, who, together with Rick, tries to get Imhotep back to his grave. That plot is absolutely sufficient for two movies. In the first movie, Evie and Rick fall in love with each other; they’re married and have a son in the second one. Of course, there is a lot of magic involved, re-incarnation, and humor. And then, towards the end of the second movie, ‘The Mummy Returns,’ things get really sad for Imhotep. Remember, we watched two films in which the re-incarnated Mummy kills at will, bewitches groups of people, uses his power to kidnap, torture, scare people, and even steal a child to bring back his ancient lover. For three thousand years, he had loved her. Even in his death and eternity, he never forgot her, and finally, she’s here, with him. He did, what he had to do, what he always wanted! And then the world is crumbling around them. The temple they’re in starts to collapse. He and Rick are held by the Underworld when the ceiling starts to crash. Even though Rick yells at his wife to get out, save herself, Evie doesn’t listen. Under the highest risk of her own life, she crosses the falling temple and throws herself to the ground to pull the love of her life out of the Underworld’s claws. Imhotep has to watch the horror to see his worst opponent being saved, and he desperately calls his only love: “Anck-sun-amun! Help me!” And that selfish, shallow, dumb chick screams ‘No!!” turns around and runs for her life… (Of course, she gets what she deserves only a few seconds later, but that’s only a detail.). What’s far more significant is the immeasurable disappointment in Imhotep’s face when he finds out that his love was far more extensive than hers and that the woman he fought for has shamefully let him down. After a last look at his enemies, he surrenders and lets himself fall backward to disappear forever, where he once raised from. That disappointment, the horror on Imhotep’s face, when the truth dawned on him, that’s what made me almost cry. I know he had murdered and pillaged… and still, I feel sorry for him. What’s wrong with me?
Do you ever feel bad for a villain? Do you feel odd when you see punishments for the bad? What story is it? Tell us about it in the comments!