Modern Retelling of the Original Rapunzel Story

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The Disney animated movie Tangled is a modern retelling of the original Rapunzel story with a musical element. Listed as one of Disney’s most popular movies, Tangled captures the audience with an adventure story involving a beautiful girl named Rapunzel with magical long hair alongside a handsome criminal named Flynn Rider who is aiding Rapunzel in her journey from escaping her tower into the unknown outside world. The movie first starts off with the male protagonist Flynn Rider narrating Rapunzel’s story. He begins with a drop of sunlight falling from the heavens and forming a magic golden flower that possesses healing powers. 

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The movie’s villain, Mother Gothel is appears on screen where she discovers the miraculous flower and decides to keep the flower’s magical abilities to herself. For centuries, Mother Gothel has used the flower’s magic to maintain her youth and beauty by simply singing a melody to ignite the flower’s power. However, soldiers from a nearby kingdom, Corona, found the hidden flower and retrieved the flower to heal the kingdom’s dying queen. Shortly after, the queen gave birth to a baby daughter with golden hair who she named Rapunzel. 

It was revealed that the young princess’s hair actually contained the magical flower’s healing abilities, which could have been the result of Rapunzel’s mother consuming the mystical plant previously. Once Mother Gothel realizes this, she sneaks into the castle at night and tries to cut off some of the baby’s hair. However, when Mother Gothel sniped a piece of Rapunzel’s golden hair, the golden hair strand turned lifeless brown. Mother Gothel realized that cutting the baby’s hair would destroy its healing power. 

So, instead of stealing pieces of the baby’s hair, Mother Gothel stole the baby Rapunzel. Mother Gothel raise baby Rapunzel as her own in a tower far away from the kingdom, hidden in the depths of the forests. Whenever Mother Gothel needed a replenish in her youth, she would simply need to brush Rapunzel’s hair while singing the same song she sang to the flower. Each year on the date of Rapunzel’s birthday, the heartbroken king and queen of Corona would release thousands of lanterns lighting the night sky in hopes that their kidnapped princess would come back home to them. 

For seventeen years living in the tower, Rapunzel would look out her window and watch the “floating lights”, unaware that they were actually for her. Gazing at the illuminating lanterns, Rapunzel would dream what life would be like outside her tower. With her eighteenth birthday approaching, Rapunzel asks permission from her Mother Gothel if she could leave the tower and find the source of the “floating lights”. Mother Gothel harashly denies Rapunzel’s request by saying that the outside world is dangerous for a girl like her. However, Rapunzel does not give up on her dream to see the “floating lights” as well as experiencing the outside world. 

The movie would then switch to Flynn Rider stealing a royal crown from the kingdom’s castle, and running away from the castle’s guards. After a chase scene and losing the guards, Flynn Rider finds himself in front of a tall tower which he decides to climb. As Flynn enters the tower, he is knocked unconscious with a frying pan by Rapunzel who is defending herself. Rapunzel hides the crown that Flynn stole and makes a proposition with the thief. In exchange for Flynn to receive his crown back, Flynn must help Rapunzel pursue her dream to see the lanterns and the outside world. Rapunzel also believes that if she is able to do this, it proves to her mother that she can take care of herself. So, the rest of the movie shows Flynn and Rapunzel’s journey to the main kingdom to see the lanterns. 

Along the way, not only do the pair go against royal guards hunting for Flynn, they also learn more about each other, with a few musical numbers included. The two start to develop feelings for each other. Once they reach the kingdom, Rapunzel learns the real reason for the lantern show which is to help light the way home for the kidnapped princess. Rapunzel and Flynn are able to witness the lantern show. Fulfilling his promise of bringing Rapunzel to see the lanterns, Rapunzel gives him the crown. With the romantic scenery of floating lanterns surrounding them, the couple are about to kiss until Flynn spots the two thugs that are after the crown. 

Flynn intends to give the thugs the crown and return back to Rapunzel, realizing that he cares more for her. However, the thugs were actually working with Mother Gothel and ties Flynn to a boat floating away from Rapunzel, tricking her that he has deserted her with the crown thus betraying and leaving her brokenhearted. A sadden Rapunzel runs into her mother’s arms and returns back to the safety of the tower, believing that her mother was right about how cruel the outside world is. Flynn captured by the palace guards and is sentenced to hang. However, Flynn is desperate to escape so he can save Rapunzel from her evil mother. 

Meanwhile, once Rapunzel and Mother Gothel arrive home, Rapunzel has an epiphany. After previously experiencing a day in the kingdom and noticing the kingdom symbol is the same symbol that is in her paintings, Rapunzel realizes that she is the long lost princess. She confronts Mother Gothel that she discovered that she is the kidnapped princess and that her mother is not actually her mother. Flynn also reaches the top of the tower and finds Rapunzel tied up by Mother Gothel. Gothel then stabs Flynn immediately once he sees Rapunzel captured. 

Flynn is bleeding to death. Seeing this, Rapunzel surrenders and agrees to remain in the tower with Gothel, if Gothel allows Rapunzel to heal Flynn. As Rapunzel is about to heal Flynn, Flynn makes the ultimate sacrifice and cuts Rapunzel’s magical hair thus causing Gothel to turn into dust and overall, setting Rapunzel free. Flynn dies leaving a crying Rapunzel. Rapunzel’s tears also contain healing powers resurrects Flynn to life. At the end of the Disney movie, Rapunzel is finally reunited with her parents, the king and the queen. Rapunzel and Flynn live happily ever after.

The main focus of the movie is about a girl with long, magical hair trapped in a tower. However, the male progantaionst is very prominent throughout the movie. The movie may feature a copartner dynamic between Rapunzel and Flynn Rider but there are many moments in the film where Flynn Rider takes the lead. For example, the movie begins with the male protagonist narrating and leading the storyline. The movie starts the male voice of Flynn Rider saying “This is the story of how I die” with the screen presenting a wanted poster of his face. 

Even though, he continues the narration and returns the focus back to Rapunzel with “This isn’t even mine,this is the story of a girl named Rapunzel”, the writers’ decision for the movie to start this way is thought provoking. The idea that starting with a male voice could bring attention and command towards the movie compared to starting off with a girl voice. The movie is centered around Rapunzel so why doesn’t Rapunzel herself narrate her own story. The movie Tangled portrays the Rapunzel character to be very submissive, obedient, and sometimes naive. Even though, Rapunzel had her moments of strength, her character would not be thought of a character of power. 

Rapunzel’s weapon in the movie was a frying pan which is a kitchen appliance. Rapunzel’s power weapon could relate to women’s societal role in the home and kitchen. The character of Rapunzel had many characteristics that relates to societal expectations of women. For example, the movie showed Rapunzel’s daily routine in the tower which mainly involved domestic activities such as sweeping, polishing, waxing, laundry, mopping, cooking and baking. 

Another example is that Rapunzel’s appearance consists of a slim, curvy figure with blonde, long hair and green eyes. Rapunzel’s appearance meets the conventional beauty standards in society. In addition, throughout the movie, the significance of Rapunzel herself is related to the powers her hair possesses. If Rapunzel did not have magic hair, she would not have been kidnapped by Gothel. This could depict how in society women’s importance and reputation are based on their appearance thus why women are so obsessed with maintaining their appearance. Mother Gothel’s need to be young could also relate to this idea as well.  

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