No matter what side you happen to fall in regards to the Walt Disney Company, it is difficult for anyone to deny the brilliance of its creative output. Disney created the concept of a full-length animated feature film, transforming the perception of cartoons from silly little shorts targeted squarely at children to a dramatic artform that people of all ages could enjoy. Often using classic stories at their jumping-off point, Disney would flesh them out with expanded plots, new characters, comedic asides, songs, and lush animation in such an entertaining, iconic manner that to this day, for the majority of people, the Disney version of any given fairy tale or children’s book is the most widely known and loved.
Though practically everyone has seen the major films in the Disney canon, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, etc., there is actually a surprisingly large number of Disney films that aren’t generally watched today–some because they are dated or have fallen out of favor, some because they are considered lesser efforts and don’t have as dedicated a following. I’ve always wanted to watch every full-length animated Disney film in chronological order, to experience the entire sweep of the studio’s animated film history, both to see the ones I’ve never seen before, and to revisit childhood memories.
There are currently 52 full-length Disney animated theatrical films and 9 that combine live-action and animation (such as Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, etc.), so I decided that in 2013, I will be watching the entire Disney animated film canon (yes, even Song of the South) and blogging on at least one film a week–two on those weeks when I reach the hybrid films. I cordially invite you to join me on my Year of Disney.
We continue today with Disney’s glorious, first CGI-animated fairy tale musical, Tangled…
30 December 2013
I do love Tangled – with two caveats: First, I'm not the only person to be made kind of uncomfortable by the way Mother Gothel's physicality is contrasted to Rapunzel's; one is small and blonde with long straight hair, and the other tall with black, very curly hair. It's not like Gothel has a hook nose or anything, but I wish the animators had put more thought into why witches (and female villains) are traditionally represented with crazy black hair. Cat Valente is more explicit about it than I'm being – and I don't wholly agree with her analysis – but these physical contrasts between female hero and female villain (or rival, as in the case of Enchanted) have seemed to plague the Disney films of the last decade (or longer): http://catvalente.livejournal.com/641526.html
My second issue is, to my mind, more significant (primarily because I don't think Disney is intentionally creating evil Jewish female villains). My problem with Tangled (spoilers) comes when Flynn cuts off R's hair, because he does it without her permission. Yes, he's sacrificing himself to save her – but he's undercutting her decision, made in the heat of the moment but no less unwillingly – to sacrifice her freedom to save him. If she'd cut off her own hair? Well, that'd be one thing. Instead, his last act is to destroy her extraordinary magical gift, entirely without her consent. He's literally destroying her agency, in an effort to give her freedom.
Shit really bugs me, is what I'm saying.
But, yes, I loved Tangled. I especially love the 60s-esque illustrations over the closing titles, which are so cute.
30 December 2013
No less willingly, not no less unwillingly. DOUBLE NEGATIVES, AMIRITE.