R for Rapunzel and Reality
“Look in that mirror. I see a strong, confident, beautiful young lady. Oh look, you are here too,” Mother Gothel, an elderly woman of imponderable age, said to her teenage daughter standing in front of the mirror. “Rapunzel, please, stop with the mumbling. You know how I feel about the mumbling. Blah blah blah blah, it's very annoying! I'm just teasing, you're adorable. I love you so much, darling,” whenever Rapunzel speaks, this is the type of thing Mother Gothel says. This narcissistic old woman always tells her daughter, Rapunzel, that she loves her the most. However, she always makes sarcastic remarks to her at the same time. Rapunzel, an 18 year old blonde girl, has been in the tower for her entire life, and she is curious about the outside world.
Regarding Rapunzel’s abnormal relationship with her mother, moviegoers in Korea could be reminded of Korean teenagers’ dependence on their parents. “I could sympathize with Rapunzel when she was arguing with her mother about stepping out of the tower. It was much like me and my mom arguing about my living out,” said Kwon Sung-hee, a Sophomore majoring in Media. Rapunzel desires to get out of the tower to see the floating lights, resembles the reality of Korean teenagers. It shares common features of Korean university students who are fresh from teenage life, wanting to be independent from their parents.
Differences Make a Different Story
In the movie Tangled, the characters and settings are different from the original story transmitted by word of mouth. In the movie, after receiving the healing powers from a magical flower, the baby Princess Rapunzel is kidnapped from the palace by Mother Gothel. Mother Gothel raises Rapunzel like real daughter, making Rapunzel believe like her own daughter. Their relationship is different from that the original story Rapunzel more miserably, oppressed by the witch without any emotional attachment. This difference of characters and settings make the story more seen as a confrontation of mother and daughter on process of independence in real life.
Also, there are some scenes that show Rapunzel has a paradox such as teenagers desire to independent from their parents but also to stay under the wings of their parents. Rapunzel in the original story remained passively in the tower living desperately until the Prince climbed up the tower. Unlike the original story that explains Rapunzel was expelled from the tower by the witch after being pregnant, Rapunzel in the movie wants to go out for her dream – to see the floating lights in person. This emphasizes teenagers’ desire to be independent from their parents naturally when time is ripe.
Additionally, Rapunzel shows the conflict going on inside her as well as outward conflict with Mother Gothel. When traveling with Flynn Rider, an attractive thief who helps Rapunzel to get out of the tower and head to the kingdom, her mood changes quickly. Once she seems very joyful and full of bliss being out of the tower, and the next minute she gets depressed and blames herself letting Mother Gothel down by deceiving her. This internal conflict continues between to leave parents to live as an individual or keep on living with them to not disappoint them. “I had rough time fighting with my parents about living out. The harshest part was my concern for my parents that they might worry about me too much. Also, I deeply thought about the bad feeling of emptiness they might get when I leave them,” said Jung Su-hyun, a Sophomore majoring Business in Kyunghee University.
Disney Against the Reality
It seems that Tangled scooping success on box-office with its new attempts to be real. The 3D graphic images projected on the screen make people astonish about true to life expression of Rapunzel’s 70-foot blond hair. Plus, the changed storyline seems to have more or less reality in it with theme of independence. However, still there are two main points that cannot be overlooked in Tangled; disparate concepts from reality and limitations found on self-reliance of Rapunzel.
Reality is not the same as we see it in the movie. The university students and late teenagers who are preparing to be independent do not have any kingdom or palace to stay when they leave their parents, unlike Rapunzel. Most of them are not yet unprepared individuals, and cannot live on their own.
Not only that, it was unrealistic when Rapunzel first stepped out of the tower. It was portrayedd simply as Rapunzel being jumpy at the moment. Tangled fails to show the internal anxiety or sense of uneasiness to teenagers who are yet matured would feel when they leave their parents. It only focused on Rapunzel feeling of regret over breaking promise with mom. “The main target audiences of Disney movies are little children so that filmmakers may found no need to explain seriously about the self-reliance. They did not depict the feeling of separation seriously,” said Kim Jae-hong, a Senior student reviewer at Crank IN, Hanyang University’s movie society.Unnaturalness continues when Mother Gothel falls from the tower and dies accidently. Even if she was the ‘bad guy’ for Rapunzel, it is unrealistic that Rapunzel not showing any change of emotion toward demise of person who she thought of as her mother for 18 years. It gives impression of artificial finish of an obsessive mother to wrap up.
Is it Passive Rather than Active?
Rapunzel finally came back to the palace and met her real parents, the King and the Queen. However, her separation from Mother Gothel bears three main shortcuts.
When Rapunzel break out the relationship between Mother Gothel, she could get out with the help of Flynn Rider. Without him, she could not get out of the tower, she worried about Mother Gothel. In the movie, Rapunzel relies on Flynn Rider throughout the journey. It can be considered as another dependency toward Flynn Rider to get over dependency toward parents
Another disputable point is found at the climax of the story. Flynn Rider cut off Rapunzel’s golden, magical, 70 feet long hair. This can be regarded as an imply of separation from the magic of Mother Gothel, but, Rapunzel, known for her hair for 18 years, has lost her own identity. Her beautiful blond hair had a significant meaning in her life and that made her distinct being in this world, thus loss of her hair can be regarded negative. It would be better to suggest other ways to bring out her separation from Mother Gothel, rather damaging unique feature of her being.
Plus, when she returned to the kingdom, she still lives with her parents, remaining their princess. New dependency toward parents was made as a result of escape from Mother Gothel. The authority gained by being a princess implies that Rapunzel could only achieve social status when with her parents.
Time to Face with the Reality
The movie Tangled shows overall process of leaving one’s parents to be a self-reliant individual. Conflicts between Mother Gothel and Rapunzel reveals the real life matter frequently happens in mother-daughter relationship. Rapunzel solves the problems of conflicts with her supporters and lover, Flynn Rider, in unrealistic ways. However, in real world, girls and boys like Rapunzel, who are leaving their parents to be stand as individuals, will find out it is not easy as depicted in the movie. They do not have magical hair that has healing power of gleam in the dark. Also, they might uncertain about their independence without firm dream like Rapunzel had. To successfully achieve self-reliance and keep the friendly distance from parents, regard the limitations revealed in Tangled.