A Second Look: Tangled
In 2010, Nathan Greno and Byron Howard released Tangled, based on the German fairy tale, “Rapunzel” published by the Brothers Grimm. Starring Mandy Moore, Delaney Rose Stein, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Brad Garrett, Ron Perlman, Jeffrey Tambor, Richard Kiel, M. C. Gainey, and Paul F. Tompkins, the film grossed $591.8 million at the box office. Winner of the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media, the National Movie Award for Animation and the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Song, the film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, the Annie Awards for Best Animated Feature Film and Writing in a Feature Production and the Golden Globe Awards for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Song.
When a drop of sunlight falls to earth, a woman named Gothel uses the resulting flower’s healing power for centuries to keep herself eternally youthful and continuously tries to hide it. In the meantime, a small kingdom comes into power and the pregnant queen falls ill, causing the flower to be sought out. After the kingdom finds the flower, they take and use its healing power and the queen gives birth to a daughter whose hair has the same healing powers. However, Gothel wants the flower back and kidnaps the princess, hiding her in a tower and raising her as her own. The child, Rapunzel, never leaves the tower but one day, a thief named Flynn Rider wanders into the tower and she coerces him to take her outside.
The 50th animated feature film put out by Disney, Tangled was a spectacular film for such a milestone, with the filmmakers wonderfully taking the plot of the original fairy tale and creating a story all their own. Turning Flynn Rider into a thief and having him take Rapunzel out to see floating lanterns on her birthday when the girl had never been out of the tower before, that she knew of, is an interesting, yet good divergence from a prince stumbling upon a tower and returning every night to make plans of escape with a girl who had been in the outside world until being shut up in a tower at the age of 12. Further, giving Rapunzel’s hair magical powers is also a notable twist from the original tale, which just had Rapunzel having the long hair simply so Gothel, and later the prince, could climb into the tower, as it presents a much more solid reason for never cutting it
Speaking of Gothel, she is a great villain with her use of psychology and manipulation in her attempts to reign in Rapunzel. The film starts off characterizing her well, showing that she’d rather selfishly have a magical healing flower all to her own rather than share it with the world. It gives weight to her actions later on with how she makes Rapunzel stay in the tower so she can continue to have the healing abilities all to her own. The song Gothel sings to Rapunzel after the latter asks to leave the tower also shows how well she uses the aforementioned manipulation and psychology, where she makes it seem to Rapunzel that she’s just trying to keep her safe from people who would wish to hurt her when it’s clear she’s really trying to keep Rapunzel afraid of the outside world so she won’t want to leave.
A really great aspect to the film is the romance that occurs between Rapunzel and Flynn as it’s one of the most realistic romances that Disney has presented audiences. The two of them don’t start off infatuated with each other, nor does one start off that way towards the other. Instead, they start off with Rapunzel hitting the man over the head with a frying pan and the two having a bit of a bumpy start getting to know each other with Flynn just wanting to get this encounter over with and Rapunzel having mixed feelings about being outside for the first time. It’s not until the two have a near death encounter where Rapunzel saves the two of them with her hair do the two start to grow closer with each other and it really culminates during the lantern scene and the song “I See the Light,” which shows they’ve grown to care for each other because of their experiences.
The other characters are good as well, especially the denizens of The Snuggly Duckling Bar. These people are scary looking thugs who could tear a man apart without trying, but it turns out they’ve all got softer, lighter sides with all of them having their own dreams and interests. Ultimately, it’s that encounter and the pushing of Rapunzel for them to reveal their dreams that help Flynn in saving the day.
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