My daughter recently outgrew the whole Disney princess phase, which was a phase that I thought lasted a heck of a long time. For a while, I, too, got into it, humming the princess tunes when she wasn’t around after we picked up a copy on the way out of Disney World at the airport. Quite frankly, I haven’t been very inspired by the last few princess films. I had great hopes for The Princess and the Frog last year, but I fell asleep and wasn’t razzle dazzled by that film. I was about to give up on the whole phenomenon….
Until Tangled entered the picture!
For the first time in a long time comes a strong, fully developed character. In the original story, Rapunzel was a prisoner of her tower. In the film, she yearns for more, much like women in our society did, starting in the 1960s, and still do. She has never let being locked up get her down, even though in the back of her mind, she knew there was a big world waiting for her beyond the tower her evil “mother” kept her in for nearly 18 years. When a handsome man named Flynn, a thief , not a prince, shows up (he’s a wanted criminal, or so it is thought) in the tower, she sees him as a ticket out. She knows that her hair is magic, and that she was born with this power, but it not until she is unleashed into society that she realizes the full magic and power that she holds. She is strong, she is brave. When she gets out into the world, she realizes that she has a lot to contribute and a lot to do with her years left on this earth. She is also kind, gracious, and that is why Flynn falls in love with her, and that adds to the fullness and intelligence of her character. She wants more out of life, but she is glad to have the affection after years of having no human contact.
When Rapunzel leaves the tower, she sings “when my life begins.” She is eager to start her life afresh, but also conflicted about leaving the woman who raised her all this time. As time goes on the film, she learns the truth about how her mother came to steal her as a baby from the arms of her true parents, and she fights to regain her identity and seeks her true path.
Flynn falls in love with Rapunzel, who is a real woman with much depth. He doesn’t really save her in the end; she actually saves him. She does eventually follow her destiny, which is, of course, a typical Disney tale. When her beautiful locks are cut for a reason I won’t reveal, she is liberated. She now wears the pants in the relationship and is in charge of her own fate.
I had read headlines about this film being feminist, and I was hopeful to see a non-traditional ending. However, Rapunzel does end up with the guy. Perhaps one day we will see a Disney princess film end differently, where the emphasis on a man is not so important. Disney princesses will not always need men to be happy. But for now, they do. Anyway, I’ll take the romance between Rapunzel and Flynn. It’s a lot more realistic than any cartoon I’ve seen in a long time. She’s actually smarter than him, and the film plays on this fact repeatedly.
I have to end this with a mention of the animation which is just incredible. It’s hard to believe how far animation and production have come since I was growing up in the 1970s. The music is also impressive, as are the voices of the characters played by Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi and Donna Murphy (who I LOVED in Wonderful Town on Broadway).
Tangled is now playing in theaters across the country. You can view a trailer here.
Disclosure: I was not paid to see this movie, was I paid for write any kind of review. All opinions expressed above are my own.