A Film for Quarantine: Tangled

Tangled is a film I’ve loved since childhood. It’s alway a solid rewatch although right now it feels especially relevant. I think we can all relate to that feeling of being trapped at home, wondering: “when will my life begin” again? Tangled reflects our inner desire to step into the outside world again, and it gives us the hope we need to get through these challenging times. Tangled is the story of the young princess Rapunzel who was taken from her family as a baby by Mother Gothel who wants to use Rapunzel’s hair for its life-preserving power. When Rapunzel is discovered by Flynn Rider, they embark on a journey to see the floating lanterns the king and queen release for the lost princess’ birthday each year. With its outstanding soundtrack, sharp humor, beautiful animation, and endearing characters, this film is still enjoyable ten years later.

The film begins with the iconic song “When Will My Life Begin?” that shows Rapunzel going about her daily life, which isn’t really much of a life at all. We mostly see her finding things to fill her time with miscellaneous activities, a situation that feels all too relatable today. Unlike our situation, which has only lasted a couple of months so far, this has been Rapunzel’s whole life. I related to her struggles much more as I watched it this time around because I understand how social isolation can make you feel like you’re not really living, just like the song says. Since this is all Rapunzel has ever known, she truly feels like she’s waiting for her life to begin. 

After this iconic opening scene, we are introduced to two of the best characters in this movie – the villain, Mother Gothel, and Flynn Rider, the funniest Disney prince in my opinion. Mother Gothel embodies the classic Disney trope of the wicked stepmother. She has manipulated Rapunzel into believing the outside world is filled with evil and danger so that she could continue to use Rapunzel to keep herself young. Something interesting about Mother Gothel’s character is that she relies almost entirely on manipulation rather than force to achieve her goals. This is demonstrated through her song “Mother Knows Best” which essentially tells Rapunzel all the reasons she should be afraid to leave the safety of her tower. Her lies about the outside world are all she needs to keep Rapunzel trapped. Throughout the film, her manipulation is her greatest weapon. Later in the movie, she manages to convince Flynn’s archenemies to capture Flynn for her by telling them that she’d give them Rapunzel in exchange. Instead, she backstabs them once they’ve done her dirty work and simultaneously convinces Rapunzel that Flynn has turned his back on her. It’s fascinating to watch her evil plan unfold.  

Flynn Rider, my other favorite character, is honestly the glue of this movie. The second he appears on screen, he changes the whole tone of the film. He brings a lighthearted, funny energy to every scene, but at the same time, he’s a fully developed character with moments of emotional vulnerability. When he confides in Rapunzel about his real name and orphan past, we begin to understand him better as a character. He steals, not because he’s a bad person, but because he came from nothing and has been trying to achieve the bold and daring aspect that the name Flynn Rider encaptures. This moment of confidence with Rapunzel is the beginning of a new chapter in their relationship. They go from being mutually beneficial allies to genuine friends. 

Another surprisingly sweet and funny moment is when Flynn takes Rapunzel to the “Snuggly Duckling,” a dive bar filled with “ruffians and thugs.” The scene builds up to a seemingly confrontational moment and then abruptly shifts when Rapunzel appeals to the dreamer inside these tough guys. They instantly break out into arguably one of the best songs in the film, “I’ve Got A Dream.” It’s not only a great and funny moment, but it also challenges our perceptions of traditional Disney characters. We go into the scene assuming that these outsiders are the bad guys, only to find out that they’re really kind hearted dreamers underneath it all. 

The climax of this movie is simply beautiful. The scene where Flynn and Rapunzel finally get to experience the lanterns is breathtakingly beautiful. At this point in the film, we’ve seen their relationship grow as he shows Rapunzel the world around her for the first time. When she finally sees the lantern she’s been dreaming of her entire life we see her eyes light up as the world mirrors this, all aglow with beautifully animated lanterns. In this climax of Flynn and Rapunzel’s journey, their feelings for each other finally come to the forefront through the song “At Last I See The Light”. 

Afterward, when Mother Gothel brings Rapunzel back to the tower after manipulating everyone, Rapunzel has this chilling moment when she realizes that she is the lost princess that the king and queen release the lanterns for each year. This realization leads to the most highly staked finale I’ve seen in a Disney film. This scene is a perfect way to solidify Flynn and Rapunzel’s love for each other because they both make the ultimate sacrifice for each other. Flynn returns to the tower for Rapunzel after escaping the guards, only to find that Mother Gothel has been waiting for him. Gothel tries to kill him causing Rapunzel to strike a deal with her – she’ll go willingly with Gothel forever if she lets her use her hair to heal him. When she goes to heal him, Flynn chops off her hair with a shard of mirror, destroying his only means of survival to free Rapunzel of Mother Gothel forever. This scene is so emotional and heart wrenching. After the fall of Mother Gothel from the tower, Rapunzel ultimately saves Flynn’s life with her tears, and it’s a perfect ending to a perfect scene. 

This film is ultimately about Rapunzel’s thirst for connection, something we are all feeling during this period of social distancing. She first meets Flynn with skepticism and fear, but throughout the movie, she slowly learns to trust him and bond with him. This is the first time she’s ever had a genuine connection with a person. Similarly, Flynn never lets people get close to him and lives his life only looking out for himself. He learns through Rapunzel, who has never had a true connection and has always wanted one, that it’s a gift to be able to open up to people. Throughout the course of the film, they both learn to trust each other and develop a connection. This movie is a great reminder to maintain relationships and find opportunities to connect even though we are physically distant. 

Lucy Stefani ’21, Arts & Entertainment Editor