Yes, alright, we at Fandom Wanderers are fond of a good Disney film now and then. Quite a lot of the time, actually. This issue, I want to look at Tangled, their brilliant adaptation of the story of Rapunzel.
Disney does really well at adapting fairytales and making them interesting and relevant to modern audiences. Most people are familiar with some variation on the story of Rapunzel, the beautiful girl with the insanely long hair, locked in a tower by a wicked old witch until she’s rescued by a handsome prince who climbs her ridiculous flowing locks. Don’t try that at home, kids.
Disney adds a somewhat more magical twist to the story – yes, more magic than being kidnapped by a witch – in the form of a mysterious flower, an annual floating lantern display, and an extremely determined horse on a mission. Also, instead of a handsome prince, we get Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachary Levi), who admittedly is something of a pin-up… but mostly in the sense that he’s the star of wanted posters all over the kingdom. And if you’re fond of tough, unstoppable female characters, you should see Rapunzel with a frying pan. She’s deadly.
Mother Gothel, our main antagonist, is a surprisingly sympathetic character – though her parenting style does leave a little to be desired – and it’s hard to tell exactly how much of her apparent affection for Rapunzel is actually due to her hair’s magical properties. This being a Disney film, it’s less of a shock to find a few surprisingly communicative animals in the cast, but these two – Pascal the chameleon and Maximus, who despite being a horse has got to be the most dedicated guard I’ve ever seen – don’t actually speak. Instead, they are masters of body language and, in Pascal’s case, hand gestures. It’s an impressive display of animation in that we’re not left to doubt their meaning for a second – which is a far better level of understanding than I share with most chameleons or horses.
It’s a musical, of course, and the songs are catchy and humorous – even the ones with undertones of sadness, like the opening number ‘When Will My Life Begin?’ (as sung by Mandy Moore playing Rapunzel), have an upbeat sort of sound to them that makes it hard to be miserable. There’s also a gorgeous duet later in the film, and the soundtrack throughout is just gorgeous.
The story’s engaging and the animation style – while not the 2D style favoured by some Disney purists – is absolutely beautiful, but the reason it’s a GUST, for me, is the warm, fuzzy, optimism-inspiring messages woven throughout. Rapunzel gets herself through a fair few sticky situations simply by being sweet and kind and trusting, and we’re reminded that everyone has dreams we need to respect and support them in while we’re chasing down our own aspirations. That’s a message many adults in today’s cut-throat world could do with taking some time out to appreciate.
That’s what Tangled offers, above all – time out. Time to revisit the fairytales of your childhood, time to appreciate this beautiful, magical animated world, full of vibrant characters, and time to thank your lucky stars you’ve never been this grounded.
Eleanor Musgrove (cannot help thinking of Maximus as a sort of equestrian Javert)