Are you familiar with the story of Rapunzel? I’ll confess that I was not familiar with it, not really. I mean, I knew she was the chick who somehow ended up in a tower and had super long hair and some prince came along to ask her to let that super long hair down. Yep. That’s about all I knew.
After reading the fairy tale version of Rapunzel I linked to above I realize that not having a base line for that story in my head wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The story Tangled uses the character of Rapunzel in a completely different way.
Watch this trailer for a general gist of what Tangled is about:
The story of Tangled centers around a magical flower that has the power to heal wounds, cure diseases, and restore youth to the old. You know what happens when good things fall in the wrong hands, right? Yep. That’s what happens here. The story of how Rapunzel ends up involved with this magical flower is an interesting one. In short, the flower ceases to exist and the baby Rapunzel takes on the qualities the flower once had – in the form of her hair.
This is why she gets captured by the evil woman who does two major terrible things: 1) keeps her locked up forever in the tower and 2) tells her she’s her mother.
Without giving the entire story away, I will say this: The life Rapunzel leads in the tower isn’t necessarily a bad one. She’s provided for and is given the means to cultivate her skills and abilities. But the woman who is claiming to be her mother has fine tuned the womanly art of guilt and manipulation and it’s clear Rapunzel has missed out on a major component of life: love.
The King and Queen are expectedly undone when their baby daughter is taken from them. Every year on Rapunzel’s birthday they send off floating lanterns into the sky out of remembrance.
From her tower, Rapunzel sees these lanterns but doesn’t know exactly what they are or why they go off every year at the same time. The year she turns 18 she develops a burning passion to go see the lanterns in person, but of course the evil “mother” won’t allow her to go.
Tangled is the story of how she gets there.
The character of Flynn Rider is equally interesting. He’s your typical good bad guy. I mean, he’s a thief, for crying out loud. But he’s the thief you want to come out on top in the end.
I could go on. The horse is a great character in and of itself. The horse is a government guy and he hates Flynn Rider. But the horse has a sense that helping Rapunzel is his duty and you can see his non-verbal conflict as he figures out how to cooperate with the guy he hates to help the girl he honors.
I don’t want to give away too much of the actual story, but it’s Disney so you already know right off the bat that it’s going to have a happy ending. I will say this: There is a very touching, powerfully sad scene close to the end of the movie in which while every bit of your being is longing for happy resolution, the story itself would probably have been more powerful had the sad been allowed to speak. Though we breathed easier when the sad was resolved, we agreed later that, as sad as that would have been, it would have given a bit more truth to the story telling. You will know what I’m talking about when you go see the movie.
Tangled presents several discussion-worthy themes to bring up with your kids on the way home. We always start with the standard, “What did you think about the movie?” From there we move to “What are some things we can affirm (agree with) as truth in the story?” and “What are some things we should challenge (disagree with) in the story?
From these questions we touched on the following topics:
- The actions of the evil “mother”
- The motives of the various characters (Flynn, Rapunzel, Mother Gothel, the King and Queen)
- How the guilt and manipulation of Mother Gothel made us feel when she was dishing it out to Rapunzel
- Was Flynn Ryder a good guy or a bad guy? Why?
- What we thought about the scene I alluded to above (the one that could have ended very sad, but resolved in the end)? What made the character who did the brave thing do that brave thing?
- And many more that were specific to the end of the story of which I won’t go into right now so as not to spoil it for you.
In short, Tangled is an excellent movie that not only entertains, provides a springboard for good thinking afterwards.