The main storyline goes like this: there is a magical flower that has the ability to heal the sick and injured. An old evil woman named Gothel finds this flower and uses it to retain her youth. One day the Queen of the Kingdom who is pregnant becomes very ill and so the people of the Kingdom search for the flower. Once it is found it is fed to the Queen who delivers a baby girl named Rapunzel. It seems that Rapunzel’s hair has absorbed the magical qualities the flower possessed. Gothel finds out about the child and steals her and takes her to a tower far away and raises her. When Rapunzel is eighteen she dreams of seeing the golden lanterns that are released every year, but she is forbidden to leave the tower. That is when her saviour comes into the picture- Flynn Rider who is wanted by the kingdom because he is a theif, a very charming and handsome theif. Rider, looking for an escape, sees the tower and climbs it. After confronting Rider, Rapunzel realizes that she will never get another opportunity to see the lanterns so she hides the item he has stolen and forces him to take her to see them. Grothel is not in the tower at the time so the two take their leave peacefully and their day is filled with adventure. So what happens next? Yes, you guessed it, they start falling for each other. But while their love is developing, Grotel has found out that Rapunzel has left the tower and so she plans a way to bring her back. Her plan is to get Rider arrested and put in jail so it will seem that he has betrayed Rapunzel. Rider is taken to jail and Rapunzel back to the tower. However Rapunzel comes to realize that she is the lost princess and that is the reason that lanterns are released every year on her birthday. She tries to escape but is tied down by Gotel and that is when Rider breaks out of prison and saves her. Reunited with her family, Rapunzel and Rider get married and live happily ever after.
I really enjoyed this film and I especially loved the scenery and the golden lanterns. However, my feelings towards Tangled are bittersweet. This movie is quite misleading and the ideals it presents can become harmful for the child audience. This review is not one which praises Tangled rather it is about taking a close look at the different ideas presented within it.
Tangled is very stereotypical in terms of gender. Rapunzel is innocent, naive and needs to be saved. That’s when the strong, well traveled and hunk Rider comes into the picture. Rider always saves the day with his strength and quick thinking and he falls for this naive girl who needs to be protected from the bad world. Generally girls will grow up thinking that they will need a man to depend on.
The concept of beauty presented in this movie is deeply troubling. Rapunzel embodies the ideal as she has big green beautiful eyes, luscious red lips, perfect teeth, beautiful blonde hair, shinning light skin (she doesn’t even have an acne problem, like seriously she’s eighteen!), she is quite skinny and of medium height. She is perfect! Or is she? Flynn Rider is also the perfect image of a man. Rider is light skinned, tall, muscular (seriously I though his shirt was going to rip in some scenes because of his muscles) and he doesn’t seem to have an acne problems either! Yay! Also they both speak perfect English. The world is so perfect. Double yay.
Disney has been portraying this image of beauty for so long and it is the ONLY image presented. Almost all of the women in Disney movies resemble Rapunzel which has become the standard. Yes, sure Disney has tried to save its image so there is Jasmine and Pocahontas, the two token women. But Disney repeatedly fails to portray in their characters that beauty is present in all different forms, sizes and colours. How do they just get away with it? I mean this movie was made in 2010 yet the ideas of Disney have not changed. They are rigid in stone.
The main audience of Disney films are children. Children must have loved the scenery and the story must have appealed to them. But what is the message that has been embedded into their minds about beauty and gender? That is what is truly scary not the old witch, Gothel. Clearly Disney in their movie state that the good people look a certain way and so a child might think: what if I don’t look like that? Does that mean I am bad? Why is my friend repeatedly represented in movies but I’m not? Children will likely conclude that in order to be considered beautiful they must become the standard.
Overall we can enjoy and watch these movies but we should be mindful and critical of the issues and ideas presented within them.