Saturday, April 28, 2012
Rapunzel has 70 feet of golden magical hair that has healing powers. Her guardian, Mother Gothel, stole her as a baby because she wanted to stay young and beautiful forever. The flower that did the same thing was taken from her and given to Rapunzel's mother as a remedy, passing the power on to her daughter. She tried to cut off Rapunzel's hair, but it loses its magical properties and becomes useless. Rapunzel is now a young adult and reasonably would like to see the floating lights that happen every year on her birthday. Mother Gothel refuses to let her go, even if it's for her birthday, and explodes in true evil stepmother fashion. Meanwhile, Flynn Rider steals a crown from the royal family, ditches his accomplices, and hides in Rapunzel's tower. She subdues him and plans to show her mother she can handle herself, but Mother Gothel explosion ensues before she can show anything. Instead, Rapunzel asks for paints that take 3 days to get so she can force Flynn to take her to see the floating lights. Her journey with Flynn Rider will take her places she has never been and change her life forever.
The first time I saw Tangled, I was completely unimpressed. I thought the story was ok, but the songs just fell flat for me. I have no idea why I thought this, but upon a great many rewatchings, I grew to love everything about: the characters, the songs, and those small moments you only notice after watching it at least a dozen times. Something just clicked in me and I fell in love with the film. The characters are dynamic and wonderful. Rapunzel is incredibly naive because she's never been in the outside world, but she definitely isn't stupid. Her naivete and kindness actually helps them cross the land to the castle to see the lanterns of her dreams. Plus her hair gets them out of a lot of sticky situations. Flynn Rider is a cocky, egotistical, self serving jerk on the outside, but a sweetheart on the inside. I really liked that their relationship is built on friendship and getting to know each other as opposed to the typical fairy tale instalove. Pascal, Rapunzel's pet chameleon, is just about the cutest thing ever and plays an instrumental role in the story. Maximus, the horse bent on capturing Flynn, is more like a dog than a horse, which was kind of weird, but still cute.
The best part of the whole film is Mother Gothel and her relationship with Rapunzel. Their relationship is built on a heap of lies and Mother Gothel only wants Rapunzel for her hair. Mother Gothel only calls Rapunzel endearing names like Flower (for the original flower that kept her young) and constantly strokes her hair because it is valuable to her and the actual girl is not. She is pretty evil, but not in the black and white, easily discerned way like most Disney villains. She's more like an actual abusive mother. She laces veiled insults with compliments to Rapunzel and says she's just kidding after many of the hurtful things she says. She also never admits being wrong and never really apologizes for anything. This is to keep Rapunzel under control, but keep her marginally content so she won't run away. It's heartbreaking to watch because Rapunzel lived with this her whole life and internalized many of Mother Gothel's insults. The damage of this is most apparent in the scene when she first leaves the tower, alternating between celebrating loudly and crying over betraying her mother. Mother Gothel manipulates everyone around her and will do anything to get what she wants.
The music really grew on me over time and I've fallen in love with all of the songs. When Will My Life Begin is a fun song describing the many many things Rapunzel does in a day while she feels like she's really doing nothing in the bigger picture. The song is upbeat and fun, but with longing behind the happiness, just like Rapunzel. My other favorite song is I See the Light. It depicts the moments when Flynn and Rapunzel's relationship moves to more than friendship and feature the most beautiful moment in the film when the lanterns are released above them. The harmonies are beautiful and their feelings are completely believable.
Tangled is a complex film that appeals to children as well as adults. It's the best Disney movie since the 90's in my opinion. It's a little darker and more believable than the usual Disney fare because there are people in the world just like Mother Gothel. She manipulates everyone around her to get what she wants and psychologically and verbally abuses Rapunzel to keep her complacent. I think this is a wonderful retelling of Rapunzel and I would recommend to any fan of fairy tales. I would also recommend a viewing of the short Tangled Ever After because it's hilarious and adorable!
My rating: 9/10 fishmuffins