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Old 1st Aug 2011, 14:28   #1
Colyngbourne
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Default Tangled

Tangled is Disney’s take on some elements of the story of Rapunzel. No peasant mother with pregnancy cravings for bitter herbs doing a deal with the witchy woman next door; no prince falling from the tower to be blinded in the briar-bush below, and certainly no Rapunzel to meet in the wilderness, as she wanders bereft with her twin children, borne of all those secret meetings with the prince. There’s plenty of meat on the Rapunzel story but Disney do their best to focus on a central theme of teenage rebellion, its natural outworking when combined with what is presented as ‘unnatural’ parenting. Torn from her birth parents, Rapunzel is raised by a single mother, fiercely protective: she lacks for nothing but her freedom. She is aware of the world and the stuff it contains; she is bright and witty, inexperienced but determined, bold and Feisty ™ once she and despite her fear of “ruffians”, quite capable of taking care of herself. Oh, and she has a cute chameleon side-kick called Pascal. We liked Pascal.

Although Rapunzel is my favourite ‘fairy-tale’, I was more than happy with this version but it does lead to some uncomfortable thoughts about the nature of family. Rapunzel’s “mother” Gothel seems to treasure her girl only for the magic she works with her golden hair that keeps Gothel unnaturally young. (The magical flower which for centuries Gothel used to stay young was taken by the palace and used to save Rapunzel’s pregnant mother from death, and its power passed to the unborn infant.). Nethertheless Gothel does seem to care truly for her daughter – she may go on long journeys to find her favourite foodstuffs or hobbycraft materials, and this might be purely to keep her daughter ‘happy’, binding her to her with weighty affection and guilt; but she also genuinely kisses Rapunzel on the forehead and speaks sincerely their little family mantra – I love you, I love you more, I love you most.

They are a family, with an abuse that Rapunzel doesn’t yet realise about to be uncovered, but they are still a family. In the hero’s voice-over at the end of the film, when Rapunzel is ‘restored’ to her birth parents, he notes “At last Rapunzel had a real family”, and this stuck in this adopted viewer’s craw. Undoubtedly Gothel does villainous things and abuses Rapunzel’s trust but she has also been a mother to her for 18 years, and brought her up to be the happy, carefree girl she is. Does this count for nothing? Has she not mothered in a pretty decent way? Until the day before her 18th birthday Rapunzel has loved Gothel unreservedly.

There was a big hoo-hah a year or so ago about why this film was not called Rapunzel and grumbles that Flynn Rider, the ‘hero’, was taking equal honours in the storyline, but to be quite honest, Flynn (aka Eugene Fitzherbert) was a very respectable foil to Rapunzel’s frying-pan wielding heroine. He was hardly squeaky clean – dropping his co-thieves in it at various points, and barely caring for Rapunzel’s welfare until a big fight-and-chase sequence in a ne’er-do-wells’ pub, The Snuggly Duckling . Comic relief comes from a palace horse, Maximus, and from the thugs-with-hearts-of-gold (qv. Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po in Mulan), and the film is served fairly well with a few songs, which are too reminiscent of other Disney tunes to hold their own as classics.

Dodgy family loyalties aside, Rapunzel is a big treat to watch, especially for anyone with kids, and bears repeat viewings.

on first viewing, maybe to drop ½ * later.
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