Thursday, December 23, 2010


I saw this new Disney-Pixar film last week (after finals closed!) and found it delightful.

This new take on the story of Rapunzel features, yes, an evil "stepmother" -- actually simply the woman who steals Rapunzel from her birth parents in order to have access to the miraculous youth-giving properties of Rapunzel's hair. And yes, Rapunzel is blonde and Evil Mother is dark. In fact, she has black, curly hair...

Putting aside the issues of older-woman-seeking-eternal-youth and dark vs. light heroines (a staple of melodramas), to be considered later, the production of the film was stunning. The colors, the drawing style, the editing (sound and shot), and the overall look of the film was fantastic. There were the Disney staples of wonderful animal pals (a horse and a chameleon), Pixar's usual motley and unexpected characters, and wonderful tunes from Alan Mencken. As my friend cynically suggested, it is ready for Broadway.

Alert: Politics! Tangled definitely displays the usual painful gender politics of Disney films, commenting negatively on older women who are desperate to be young--so desperate they steal someone else's child! Sadly, not a trope limited to Disney... but I wonder how it sticks with little girls as they age. Disney as usual displays the simplistic notions of dark woman/light woman, natural mother/childless crone, found in most melodramas. It's Snow White all over again, and I thought we had come a long way from that 1930s classic!

It reminds me of Lillian Gish's role in The Night of The Hunter, a great film directed by Charles Laughton. She's a woman who has taken in stray children during the Depression, and is as fierce as anything. And the silent star is clearly not afraid of being seen in her late middle age. Not a "typical" mother or heroine.

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