Tangled (2010)

Rated PG. Our ratings: V-3 ; L- 0; S/N-1 . Running time: 1 hour 41 min.

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord
you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit
of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.
Ephesians 5:8-9

Tangled

There is a lovely song “I Can See the Light” in Disney’s new film Tangled that echoes somewhat the sen timent of the apostle Paul, and indeed of many other Scripture passages that use the metaphors of light, darkness, blindness, and seeing. Tangled is a retelling of the story of Rapunzel, and it is our spunky heroine (voiced by Mandy Moore) who first sings it while riding in a boat rowed by the thieving adventurer Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi). As a baby Princess Rapunzel had been stolen from her royal parents by Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) because the infants magical hair keeps the old woman youthful when she rubs it on herself. Mother Gothel has raised the princess as her own daughter, confining her in a tower in a hidden valley. Rapunzel has never been allowed to leave it for a moment, the only way in and out of the chamber being by letting down her hair—all 70 feet of it—for her mother to climb up and down when she ventures forth into the world. (The magic will leave the girl if her hair is cut.)

Then comes the day when the roguish Flynn Rider, fleeing from the kings horsemen because he has stolen a crown from the palace, stumbles into the valley and manages to climb up the outside wall of the tower. However, Rapunzel whacks her unwelcome visitor with her skillet, tying him to a chair with her hair, and…Soon the two become acquainted, and she and he are leaving the tower for an adventure that will change their lives. And it is this song which reveals both their feelings for one another and their feelings about their former estate before their meeting.

It is night and a myriad of tiny lights surround their small boat. Rapunzel sings of her life in the tower as “outside looking in” and now, with Flynn, she realizes “how blind I had been.” In the chorus, which will be repeated with Flynn joining in, she sings, “And at last I see the light, and it’s like the fog has lifted,” continuing with a description of how things are new, “warm and bright,” and “everything looks different.” Like many other songs that describe how love changes the one in love, this one can be seen by people of faith as similar to the hymns and gospel songs that declare how Christ changes a believer’s life. Indeed, listening to this beautiful song, some might think of the line from “Amazing Grace,” “I once was blind but now I see…” Through the years the Disney folk have given us what amounts to animated versions of Broadway plays. Rapunzel is a worthy addition to Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Lion King, and a host of others. Children will enjoy it—the boys will enjoy the rascally Flynn and the smart horse that he comes to possess, and the girls will identify with the resourceful Rapunzel. For adults there is Mother Gothel, who is almost as delightfully wicked as Cruella De Vil. Disney animators add the usual cute creature companions for our couple, but they wisely do not give them voices. Thus, this is a film with something for every viewer, young and old, and a timeless message about the power of love. It is another film that can be treasured simply as an amusing version of an old fairy tale, or, for people of faith, as a tale filled with spiritual meaning as well.

For Reflection/Discussion

1. How is Rapunzel similar and different from other Disney heroines? Going back to the studio’s classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, how has their concept of a heroine changed over the years?

2. What do you think of Flynn Rider? For older viewers, do you think he is similar to the heroes played in the Errol Flynn adventure films? Describe Flynn when he first enters the story: is he a person who lives for himself, or for others? How does he change? What is it that changes him?

3. Check out the lyrics of “I Can See the Light” at the following YouTube address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3QqD3GVdPw.

Compare it to some hymns you know about our relationship with Jesus. How are many hymns and gospel songs essentially love songs?

4. What does the song and the film say about the power of love to transform us?

5. What kind of a person is Mother Gothel? A Flynn to the nth degree? How is her fate similar to what many of the Psalms predict will be the end of the wicked, from Psalm 1 on?

6. Where do you think you see the hand of God in this picture?