As seen in the extract above from Bridget Jones's Diary (Maguire, 2001), film antagonists can come in all shapes and forms. The most popular film antagonists often outshine the protagonists, so what is it which makes some antagonists so beloved by their audiences? This study will focus on three in particular – Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) in the aforementioned Bridget Jones's Diary, Regina George (Rachel McAdams) in Mean Girls (Waters, 2004) and Colonel Hans Landa (Christof Waltz) in Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009). By studying three very different creations – a teenage queen bee, a serial womaniser and a nazi war criminal, I hope to identify some over-arching similarities in how these characters are depicted.
'Popular' is a word…show more content… This makes them memorable, perhaps even sometimes likeable, in the minds of the audience. Why are film audiences attracted to funny characters? One solution to this question can be found in Sigmund Freud's Drive Theory, where 'humour permits partial or disguised gratification of unacceptable wishes'1. For a film viewer to find something funny does not necessarily mean that they condone or endorse it in reality, but it does suggest an inner desire to cause mischief or mayhem, releasing what Freud would call the 'id' or the dark, inaccessible part of the personality. In this context of popular antagonists in cinema, the audience are able to live vicariously through the actions of the characters, and enjoy themselves in doing…show more content… In response to this, it must be made clear that the audience is not expected to draw entertainment from his aggressive actions, but from his wit and personality. Take for example his conversation with the Basterds in the cinema lobby. The three Basterds attempt (poorly) to pass as members of an Italian film crew, and Landa subtly mocks them on their atrocious accents. However, only the audience is in on the joke, having just watched the scene immediately prior to this, in which Landa extracts the Basterd's plan from Sergeant Willi (Gedeon Burkhard), the surviving nazi officer from an earlier bar confrontation. Thus, only Landa and the audience are aware that the Basterd's game is already up. Landa's decision to make the men repeatedly pronounce their false names in appalling Italian accents therefore encourages the audience to appreciate his humour. Matthew Shields writes that ''One of the defining characteristics of the film's arch-villain, Landa, is his mastery of language: he speaks French, German, English, and Italian flawlessly, each word pronounced and chosen intentionally and carefully. The Basterds, by contrast, are not only a motley crew in terms of appearance, but, as we have seen, their entire project centres on the idea that justice, in itself, is not immaculate or precise. It is by its very nature out of joint; it