Saturday, 29 January 2011


Rapunzel - the story of a girl kept in a tower by a witch from whom her parents had stolen some weird cabbage. Her hair is reaaaaaaally long, and strong enough for people to climb up it. It's a classic story, and pretty much everybody knows it. 
When I heard that the story might be more from the point of view of 'the prince' figure, who in this film is pretty much a skit on Errol Flynn, in order to make the story more "universal" to both sexes, I was worried that Disney would go too far the wrong direction - why choose a story about a girl if they wanted to make more boy-friendly films? Bit retarded if you ask me. But they've managed in this film, by lengthening the tale so it is essentially Rapunzel, but with extra characters that both sexes can love and enjoy. (Though I've known plenty of boys that liked "girls" disney films.) 

At the start of the story, we hear Flynn Rider (yes, that is his tribute name) narrating the back story, we find out that Rapunzel was the only child of the king and queen of the pretty kingdom - immediately I cringed, taking in the grim point that once more Disney emphasises its Princess Franchise. The film could have gone downhill from there - helpless blond girl with good hair and a prince goes to save her yadda yadda. But it didn't: it was uphill from there.
Anyway, Queen gets into difficulty and is ill during labour. The king searches for a mystical flower that heals all and keeps a selfish witch young forever. They take it, and brew it, and the queen drinks it and is healed. The side effects are shown in Rapunzel's hair, which has healing properties - hence why the witch took her; to maintain the youth that the flower was giving her.

She teaches the world that
 saucepans are effective weapons
Rapunzel as a character is very creative - she paints, she cooks, she sings, she cleans, she dances. She lives a boring life, and dreams of going outside on her birthday to look at lanterns that are released by the kingdom in commemoration (though she doesn't know it) of the Lost Princess's birthday. When she is outside, she is wide-eyed and in awe (and really really cute!), and to start with, very conflicted because she's left the tower very much against her ''mother's'' (the witch) wishes. As you can see in the first picture, she has a companion in a Chameleon called Pascal, who eggs her on gently with fantastic facial expressions and nods of the head and arm movement.

They fail to get his nose right.
Flynn Rider is a thief on the run who happens to hide from the psycho horse, Maximillian, who is on his tail, in Rapunzel's tower. He is captured by her and she makes a bargain with him to take her to see the lanterns and to bring her back, in exchange for the valuable item he'd stolen and she'd hidden.
He's a lost soul, with dashing good looks (and he knows it) and a reluctance to do a deal with this naive blonde girl. 
Naturally, he becomes fond of her - not least because she wins over everybody she meets: thugs and ruffians in the local tavern; the psycho horse Maximilian; and every person living in the royal city - which is pretty to look at and rather vibrant. 

The psycho horse, Maximilian, is fantastic - he's dog like, horse like, bad tempered, law abiding (there is a conscience conflict later with some apples Flynn gives him) and militant in his pursuit of Flynn. He's a good counter weight to the very facially charismatic chameleon. He can fight with a sword, he can walk over thin planks of wood, and jump from roof to roof. He's also cleverer than his masters and has a keen sense of smell.

Alan Menken, score-writer for Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, has done very well with this film too.
The soundtrack is great - and the songs are fun. "I Have a Dream" sung by the ruffians is a great laugh, and "Mummy Knows Best", sung by Mother Gothel is musically good and verbally stinging as she constantly belittles her 'daughter' and insists that the World is a dangerous, selfish place in which she wouldn't last five minutes.
The customary 'I've just realised how much I love you' duet song between Rapunzel and Flynn is cheesy and naturally causes eye-rolling from the older audiences - for some reason, when it's a musical performed by real people, it's less cringe worthy to have songs like that. 

The end of the story is predictable if you know the ending of the original story of Rapunzel - and I thought that the almost fine scene with just Rapunzel and Flynn was over done, but my friends liked it. It was pretty, just after a previous healing scene it seemed a bit over-done. But never mind, that's just my opinion.

Overall, the film is a triumph over my expectations - I was a bit unsure about it, since it had shrek-like animation, was supposed to be ''boy friendly'' (whatever that means) and was, as I said, turned into a Princess Film. But it is funny, soppy and really great to watch. I saw it in 2D, and whilst there were one or two scenes where I thought the 3D would have looked cool, it was still very enjoyable. 
I think I prefer it to The Princess and the Frog, and I'll definitely be buying this on dvd. 

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