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Disney’s Tangled

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series The Fairy Tale Project

Disney’s Tangled is an engaging retelling of the story of Rapunzel. While the film reflects the obsession with youth and beauty that exists in our culture, it also demonstrates our ability to stand up against it. While the witch Gothel demonstrates how vanity will lead us to selfish and manipulative acts, both Rapunzel and Flynn show us that love is selfless and blind to external beauty.

After being kidnapped from her royal family, due to her enchanted magical hair, Rapunzel spent all of her childhood being held captive by a maniacal witch, Gothel, whose sole purpose was to use Rapunzel’s hair as a way to keep herself young forever. She pretended to care for the girl, but was only using her for her own purposes. This all changed one day when Flynn, who was running from the law, stumbled upon Rapunzel and they became involved. Over time Rapunzel learned to trust Flynn and learned that true love (selfless love) can conquer all things. [ref]Greno, Nathan and Byron Howard, directors. Tangled. Walt Disney, 2010.[/ref]

Unlike Gothel, who only thought of her own needs, Rapunzel and Flynn demonstrated selfless love in their care for one another. They were both willing to sacrifice themselves for the other person. This was beautifully demonstrated in the end of the story when Rapunzel was willing to give up her freedom in order to heal Flynn after his injury. Flynn in turn, demonstrated his love for Rapunzel by putting his own life at risk to liberate her from her hair – which is the only reason Gothel needed her.1 By doing this, Flynn proved that he was interested in her not solely because of her external beauty.

Since the audience for Tangled is primarily children, the saccharine nature of this tale (especially the ending) is appropriate. Nevertheless, as with most Disney films, the production value is so great that all ages could enjoy it. This version of Rapunzel is definitely more kid friendly than that of the Brothers Grimm since they have Rapunzel’s parents giving her away to Gothel as payment for some enchanted cabbage that they had stolen.[ref]Grimm, Jacob, Wilhelm Grimm, and Maria Tatar. The Annotated Brothers Grimm: The Bicentennial Edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. Print.[/ref] In Tangled, Rapunzel’s parents love her and mourn over losing her.

The lesson from this tale is one that seems to be universal. Rapunzel’s hair was a blessing and a curse for her. When used with the right intentions at heart, it provided much needed healing. This tells us that we can appreciate beautiful things as long as they do not get in the way of what is really important – loving and caring for those around us. Since Gothel was obsessed with her own youth and beauty, she would do anything to maintain it. She had no regard for the pain that her vanity caused the people around her, both Rapunzel and her parents. Nevertheless, Tangled exemplifies the idea that all of us would like to believe – that love ultimately wins.

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