“Rapunzel” from Children’s and Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm
The Film: 2010
Tangled directed by Nathan Greno and Bryan Howard (Disney)
Did you know that rapunzel is a kind of lettuce? I didn’t until reading the Grimm’s version of “Rapunzel.” In fact, the story was quite different then I remember it. Perhaps because there are so many different versions of this tale, although they all have the image of a prince climbing up a rope of hair.
Reading Zipes’ and Pullman’s versions back to back made for an interesting comparison. They are almost identical stories. Almost. The main difference is what tips off Mother Gothel that someone has been visiting Rapunzel. Pullman’s translation is from an earlier version where Rapunzel gets pregnant from her encounters with the prince and doesn’t understand what is happening to her body. It is the growth of her stomach that gives her trysts away. While this story is more forthright about sex, it shows Rapunzel as a very naïve young woman. On the other hand, Zipes’ version has Rapunzel slip up by mentioning the prince to the old woman. This makes Rapunzel come off as not only naïve (this Rapunzel also gets pregnant with twins, but this fact is slipped in near the end, almost like an afterthought), but also pretty stupid.
Which brings me to the modern version of Rapunzel: Disney’s Tangled. Although this Rapunzel is quite naïve about the world, she is imaginative, smart, brave, and spunky. Disney took a pretty pathetic figure and turned her into a pretty spectacular heroine—albeit one with mommy issues—that I would want to be friends with.
I love Tangled! Obviously, it does not follow the Grimm version exactly (it would only be about 20 minutes long if it did), but it takes bits and pieces and weaves them into something new and enchanting. This film returns to the roots of classic Disney, the movies I grew up with and fell in love with, and fills an age-old tale with new magic.
The characters in this movie are so much fun! Flynn Rider quickly jumped to the top of my list of favourite Disney male leads, and Maximus with his weird dog/man behaviour always cracks me up. The music is catchy, and the animation… sigh! How gorgeous is the lantern scene?! I know from experience that those paper lanterns are a lot trickier to use then the movie suggests, but I so want to be floating on a lake surrounded by hundreds of those lights.
The Grimm tales are classic, but Disney certainly created a classic of their own with Tangled. It is a movie that I have no problem watching over and over again.
What do you think of Disney’s interpretation of “Rapunzel”? Share your answers in comments.
- The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, 3rd Edition translated by Jack Zipes (Bantam, 2003)
- Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman (Viking)
“Popcorn and a Book” is a monthly feature where I compare one book with its adapted film, looking at the content, the way it has been visualized, the experience, etc. If you would like to participate in this meme, please visit the “Popcorn and a Book” main page for details.