Anna and Elsa, two Disney princesses (or Queen in Elsa’s case) who became household names after the release of smash hit Disney animation, Frozen. As discussed in my previous post (here), Frozen was the most successful animated movie of all time, completing blowing all prior Princess movies out of the water. However, despite its ground breaking success, I refuse to label Frozen as the greatest Disney movie of all time. Why? Because that title belongs to another movie, one that although nowhere near as successful as Frozen, pulled at my heartstrings and warmed my insides far more than Frozen ever did. I am not afraid to admit that that title belongs to Tangled.
Tangled was the last Disney princess movie to be released before Frozen, debuting in UK cinemas in January 2011. It follows the young, determined Rapunzel, who has been locked up in a tower with the deceitful Mother Gothel for the majority of her life. Rapunzel dreams of one day leaving the tower she calls home in order to see the ‘floating lights’ which she has observed from her tower only once a year, on her birthday. Since its initial release, Tangled has been a movie that I have held close to my heart. It is my go-to movie when I’m feeling down, tired, bored, happy.. actually, just all the time, I will always have time for Tangled! There are endless reasons as to why I adore this movie so much and endless reasons as to why I think that it is a better movie than Frozen…Yes, I said it *holds breath and waits for imminent murder*.
Once again, I have to focus on the messages embedded within the film. One of the reasons that I hold Disney in such high regard is its inspirational and motivational themes and its recognition of important issues and subject matters. Tangled does not disappoint in this area. The main theme of the film is the importance of following and not giving up on your dreams, and this is presented through Rapunzel’s character. As an audience, we have the privilege of following Rapunzel’s journey as she takes the necessary risks and follows her heart to reach her dream of seeing the floating lanterns. The film features the song ‘I’ve got a dream’, which plays a brilliant part in highlighting that all kinds of people have all kinds of different dreams in a way that is light-hearted and upbeat (and very very catchy!). This ensures that the focus is not entirely on Rapunzel’s dream but also on the dreams of others, including Flynn, whose dream is to be filthy rich… that is until he finds his new dream.
Speaking of great songs, another reason this movie is so fabulous, is its outstanding soundtrack. Yes, Let it go might have spent 13 weeks at the top of the American billboard chart, but have you heard ‘I See the Light’? The soundtrack to one of the greatest and most magical movie scenes to ever exist. The feeling and emotion behind this song is enough to leave anyone speechless and reduce them to tears. Personally, I can’t watch this scene without singing along and grinning to myself like an idiot, it makes me feel so happy and fuzzy inside! ‘I See the Light’ is the perfect song to accompany such a breath taking, romantic moment in the movie and the voices of Zachary Levi and Mandy Moore complement each other beautifully, creating what I believe is the greatest performance Disney have ever produced and a piece of pure cinematic beauty. Other musical gems from Tangled include ‘When will my life begin?’, which Rapunzel performs during the opening scene of the movie. Although the story the song is telling is quite a sad one, as it demonstrates just how unfulfilling Rapunzel’s life is, it is one of the catchiest songs to come out of a Disney film. This could perhaps mirror the fact that despite the lack of excitement and freedom in her life, Rapunzel always tries to stay positive. And of course, not forgetting ‘Mother knows best’ performed by Mother Gothel, another track that displays the sad reality of Rapunzel’s life and the controlling nature of her ‘Mother’. Tangled cleverly uses its musical moments to give us a clearer picture of Rapunzel’s life.
One of the most important elements is of course its characters, and Tangled certainly doesn’t disappoint. Being the first Disney princess movie to use CGI animation rather than hand-drawn animation, we were introduced to a whole new side of the Disney princess universe. The Lost Princess and her friends were a computer generated work of art, meaning more believable facial expressions and more in depth emotion. The lead role in Tangled of course belongs to Rapunzel, a strong, ambitious young girl who has only one thing that she wants in life, and that is to leave her tower and see the floating lanterns. Although she acquires the help of the wanted Flynn Ryder, Rapunzel is very independent and if she wasn’t so naïve and inexperienced, could quite easily make the journey on her own. When the pair are faced with difficulties along the way it is Rapunzel who saves the day. When they are about to drown in the dam, it is Rapunzel that saves their lives! It’s also Rapunzel that supplies Flynn with his beloved frying pan.. what would he do without his frying pan?! Overall she is a very independent character, Flynn is simply an assistant, if you like, who helps her on her way… oh, and steals her heart.
You can’t have a good Disney film without a good old Disney villain and Mother Gothel certainly lives up to the title. In fact, in my opinion, she is one of, if not the most sinister villain Disney have created. Of course, the likes of Maleficent with her devastating curse and Ursula with her deceitful spells are up there with the most shocking and dangerous villains, but what makes Mother Gothel so terrifying is the fact she is human. Her deceit does not involve spells or curses, it involves manipulation and deceit of a young girl for her own personal gain. Her possessive nature and selfish ways are made clear by the fact she has denied Rapunzel of her life as a Princess in order to ensure that she stays young and healthy, meaning that Rapunzel has spent her whole life in a tower, totally unaware of her true identity. It is often debated whether Gothel does truly care for Rapunzel as if she were her own, however, there are subtle indicators, within the film, of the nature of their relationship. For instance, we are given a very quick glimpse of Rapunzel’s bedroom, which has no form of door or wall. Instead, there is simply a curtain, which shows just how controlling Gothel really is. Rapunzel has absolutely no privacy and Gothel is able to monitor her every move. Is this to ensure that Rapunzel is never able to find out her true identity? Or has Gothel really adopted Rapunzel as if she were her own daughter and is simply very overprotective? I suspect the first option, and this is why her character is so disturbing, she could quite easily be a real life Mother! (Minus the magical ability to become young again through Rapunzel’s magic hair of course, but lets just forget about that!).
We also can’t forget the sidekicks of Disney that often make the movies what they are. In this case we have Maximus and Pascal. Both animal, non-speaking roles that still manage to make a huge impact on the audience and are key roles in moving the plot forward. We have seen a number of horses over the Disney years, Philippe from Beauty and the beast, Pegasus from Hercules, the list goes on! But I don’t think any of these have been brought to life in the way Maximus has. Through the use of CG animation, Maximus is given over the top, human like facial expressions and mannerisms that add to the humour of the film, particularly when alongside Flynn. Maximus’ and Flynn’s relationship is one of my favourites from the Disney universe. Their petty little fights and their matching stubbornness adds the perfect drop of humour into their scenes together. The comical nature of their relationship is bound to put a smile on your face as you watch this film, especially as as the film develops, Maximus helps Flynn escape when he is later captured. Who would have thought that a man and a horse could provide such an interesting relationship development! Like Maximus, Pascal the chameleon also doesn’t need any of his own dialogue to make his mark on the film. The attention to detail in the animation does the work for him, creating a very likeable little sidekick who adds just that little bit of something extra that the film wouldn’t be quite right without.
And of course, we can’t forget Flynn Ryder. Real name: Eugene Fitzherbert, occupation: criminal, Flynn is just a Disney character that you can’t help but fall in love with. With his dashing good looks, witty sense of humour and effortless charm, what is there not to love? Flynn is easily one of my all-time favourite Disney characters. Who could possibly resist that smoulder?! Although he is a criminal, Flynn is such a loveable character and even head strong Rapunzel can’t resist his charm. As the film goes on we do see Flynn begin to change, lowering his guard and showing his sensitive, sweet side to Rapunzel, even allowing her to know his real name. This kind of character development isn’t something we really see in Frozen and I think that is what the film is lacking. The turning point in Tangled, for me, is the lantern scene, which I have already mentioned is my favourite scene of all time. The way Flynn looks at Rapunzel whilst on the boat, with such admiration and adoration, was enough to make me melt and fall in love with him all over again! The change that Flynn endures after his time with Rapunzel, without losing the core aspects of his personality and still being the character we know and love, is the perfect transformation! Ultimately, Flynn and Rapunzel bring out the best in each other, which is just totally adorable!!
Overall, Tangled is just an unreal film, a work of pure genius. Of course, Frozen is too! But there’s just something about Tangled that stole my heart forever and I don’t think that it will ever be replaced as the greatest Disney film. To anyone that hasn’t seen this movie, get up right now and go watch it because I can guarantee you won’t regret it. From drama to comedy, Tangled has a bit of everything and something for everyone, and is one of the greatest movies of all time.