Monday, December 13, 2010

Tangled: A Review

I am almost embarrassed to admit how much I liked - no loved - Tangled.

The sheer bender-gender-ness of it was fantastic - and so different from Disney's other Princess films where the female protagonists are little better than insipid, agent-less, love-sick cyphers.

Anyway, I really liked the way Disney decided to make the male character the peasant character instead of a prince as the original myth had it while Rapunzel gets to be a lost Princess. Yay! It was actually a pleasant re-write from an English perspective because the original tale had cast women in a negative light with Rapunzel's mother as an Eve Figure, the Witch herself, and Rapunzel as the typical agent-less, insipid male accessory.

So, Tangled seems to re-write a lot of those limiting gender roles that literature - especially fairy tales - generally seem to impose on women.

I also liked the gag with frying pan - it reminded me a lot of some of the themes in my Caribbean Lit class -- how women, described as kitchen-poets, who were confined in a domestic sphere without a literary tradition of their own could still contribute to their culture in a significant way with their own tradition which is validated and elevated instead of seen as just women's work or whatever. I really liked that Tangled sort of nodded to this re-appropriation of domesticity.

This was a small moment but I really liked it - towards the middle of the film, when they show the royal couple and the townspeople releasing the lanterns into the sky, the king sheds a tear and it's the wife who wipes it away, instead of the other way around.

I also liked how there was no agenda of Reform going on - I found both Eugene's and Rapunzel's character growth to be very authentic and coming from within their own selves, as opposed to being the result of someone else's agency or a desire to change for another person or whatever. That was refreshing. And for the first time, the princess seemed like a real person instead of someone with a dream ready to give it up at the first chance at true love - which is what happened with Belle. Or a girl who just wants to get married - like Ariel. And don't even get me started on Sleeping Beauty.

But with Rapunzel - there's real self conflict. Even though the presentation of it was very obvious (the cut scenes to sheer joy to abject depression when she first steps out of her tower), it still felt real to me. One of my big problems with the Rapunzel myth (which I've ranted about before, I think), is how she was willing to stay there in that tower, just waiting. Or whatever it was she did there -- and that's with a lot of other princesses too - they just seem to /wait/ an awful lot of the time. But here, the manipulation of the witch and Rapunzel's own conflicted feelings about the matter really three-dimensionalized the character for me and made it a real coming of age story.

Check out the Rapunzel character poster above to this collage of Disney princesses (which I think is an official thing instead of a fan made thing) - look at the difference in poses. The above are very passive whereas Rapunzel is -- not. I love that.

And, of course, the issue about the hair. It always bugged me that Rapunzel would just let people climb up her hair like she was their own personal stairway (though that does happen in the movie with the witch, it's obviously a Bad Thing as opposed to the prince getting away with it like it was his privilege or whatever).

I'm not really sure why Disney chose to advertise Tangled with images like this:

Because it doesn't happen, not till just the very end, and well, Rapunzel's all tied up and it's really the witch and of course Eugene is all adorably concerned for Rapunzel and I didn't really get a Using-Her-As-A-Stair-Case vibe so I'm okay with it.

I think I would have preferred Rapunzel cutting off her own hair, but truth of the matter is is that I'm Very Okay with how the film presented it. And by very okay I mean that I loved it because -- oh shit! I was not expecting them to have Eugene stabbed! Not in a Disney film! No way!

But yes way!

And I was totally on edge even though I knew, I /knew/, there was no way in hell that Disney would have a protagonist die at the end -- but still. It was pretty cool.

And she wants to save him and he wants to save her and it's all very, very sweet.

And perfect.

And did I say sweet? Because it totally was.

Wow. Look at the gushing. It's like I'm a puddle of goo or something.

But yeah. Rapunzel is definitely my favorite Princess movie no matter from which perspective I'm viewing it (either through an academic perspective or just an informal perspective).

It also helped a great deal that the animal companions didn't talk. Best move ever, Disney. Finally, they're funny instead of just painfully stupid.

Hehehe. Maximus and Flynn = hysterical. Hysterical.

So yeah. Everybody should go watch it.

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