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Examples of great literature demand that every generation take up the story changing the details while retaining most of the thematic elements in order to make the work more appealing and relevant to the current audience. In this way the storytellers of each generation have an opportunity to make a classic their own. stories like Romeo and Juliet come readily to mind when considering this phenomenon but there is another type of literature that frequently falls into the category; fairy tales. They have been around quite literally for centuries and contain some of the most recognizable characters found in any form of entertainment. Fairy tales typically to instruct, entertain and yes, even frighten the children. This tradition of fairy tale reinterpretation has been taken to a whole new level by the leader in family entertainment, the Walt Disney Studio. The rock solid foundation of this entertainment giant was carefully constructed on reimagining fairytales making the Disney Princess into a powerful new cinematic archetype. The latest and perhaps last of the Disney princess movie takes the form of ‘Tangled’; a fresh look at; Rapunzel, a romance between a young woman, her handsome prince and her luxurious hair. There has been indication from the Disney executives that they will be moving away from the princess paradigm for at least the foreseeable future. Apparently this decision has been prompted by the increasing influence of the Pixar animation division. Pixar films are the ones bringing in both exception box office and a shelf full of major awards. They also are able to reach a broader audience in both the age and gender demographic that the young girl oriented princess film. I’m not completely convinced that this new direction will not last too long; Disney has too much invested in the princesses they have created. At least if this is true than Disney is getting out of the Princess business with great élan. ‘Tangled’ is a modernized take on the leading lady in this fairy tale. She is much more of a modern woman, strong willed, determined and self-reliant. It is interesting to contrast Rapunzel with the very first Disney Princess, Snow White’. Rapunzel doesn’t need Prince Charming and a squad of short mine workers to rescue her. She can handle herself nicely.

Dan Fogelman took the basic elements from the classic Brothers Grimm story reworking it to fit relating to an audience with modern sensibilities. He had some other story work for Disney nut his previous big screenplay was for ‘Bolt’, a story that did have a modern day girl as the protagonist. Another connection between these two animated movies is they both featured the vocal talents of real life Disney pop princesses, Miley Cyrus in "Bolt’ and Mandy Moore here. In the original story the young maiden was locked away in a high tower to deter the corrupting influences of the outside world. There were no doors in the tower only a single window. In order to obtain entrance had to let down her extremely long hair for the visitor to climb. Even as a kid I wondered about such real world factors as the tensile strength of her hair and how food and restroom facilities were provided but then I was an odd child with a strange curiosity. Of course one of the primary functions of a fairy tale is to transport you far away from mundane reality and ‘Tangled’ succeeds quite well.

Although this is the first time directing a high profile animated film Nathan Greno and Byron Howard took the typical Disney preferred career path for this position gaining experience in the art department. This is actually a brilliant in house training program. Being closely involved in similar projects from the artistic perspective give the budding animated feature director the right feel for working in this medium. I have noticed that many directors that have come up under this method have a clearer narrative and more direct means of telling the story in a naturalistic fashion. They are comfortable in breaking the laws of reality on a fairly regular basis which is a large part of the fun. In directing an animated film a director has to overcome obstacles not faced by his real life counterparts. It is necessary to be able to envision the virtual sets and how to move the characters through them. After training in the art department these men know exactly how their casts and set are created and just how to coax the best possible performances from them. One of the remarkable things about this film is how easy it is to forget you are watching animation; I was impressed by the camera work and lighting, forgetting momentarily that I was watching animation. It is only fitting that this film cap the Disney Princess era; it is the fiftieth member of the genre franchise it also was one of the most expensive films ever made coming in with a budget over $260 million, something it fell short of recouping

The story is pretty much the same as always with the fair Princess Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) in possession of 70 feet of hair with magical powers of rejuvenation. In order to stay forever young Mother Gothel (voiced by Donna Murphy) locks her in the tower to harvest the miracle locks. Now the girl has become a teenager complete with all the rebellion and curiosity inherent with the age. When a bandit Flynn Ryder (voiced by Zachary Levi) sneaks into the tower he is easily captured and taken prisoner by a most atypical blonde. I guess even in a magical animated kingdom a teenage girl has to fall for the bad boy with the deep heart. The pair accompanied by the requisite adorable sentient, animal, in this particular instance, a horse with an attitude and a keenly developed sense of duty, Maximus, one of the best steeds in the Royal army. The mandatory confrontation between the soldiers searching for the thief and their prey, Flynn leads to a entertaining romp where the amazing animators get to demonstrate their talents utilizing the preternatural hair to its very best advantage. It should come as no surprise that the name of the pub, traditionally a bawdy reference in real life is softened to the family friendly Snuggly Duckling.

This film is given a first class release by Disney; there is a DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D version. The first two are available separately and the 3D version in a massive four disc set with all possible formats. The Blu-ray is incredibly sharp, every conceivable detail present. The 3D effects are beginning to get better being incorporated into the actual story instead of just to show off the new technology.in the end scene with the release of the annual floating lanterns the sky is filled with a brilliant display of shapes and colors that make remarkable use of the illusion of a 3D space. This caps off a remarkable family experience in a way were the 3D techniques are seamlessly infused with telling the story.

Deleted Scenes
Untangled: The Making Of A Fairy Tale
Original Storybook Openings
Digital Copy

Posted 03/08/20111

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