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Flower gleam and glow, let your power shine. Let the clock reverse, return what once was mine.

We have left the world of 2D and delved into the CGI era! Rapunzel is probably one of the Princesses with the most changes during production. In earlier stages Rapunzel was voiced by Kirsten Chenoweth and was supposed to be turned into a squirrel while a teenage girl took her place as Princess (yes, it's as dumb as it sounds). When the story changed drastically, Rapunzel was given a little make over and they changed the voice actresses (to my dismay since I adore Kirsten Chenoweth). At the last stage of production she was animated by Glenn Keane whom was also the animator for Ariel. He modelled Rapunzel after his daughter. Unfortunately, this is the last character that was animated and designed by Glenn Keane before he left Disney. 

Now I'm going to put a HUGE disclaimer here, because knowing tumblr and the Disney community as a whole Rapunzel is the personal favorite of many. However, she's one of my least favorites (as well as Tangled being one of my least favorite Disney films). If you can't handle criticism concerning Rapunzel's character, I suggest you to stop reading. I do not sugar coat my thoughts so I don't want to offend anyone. So yeah, beware ye who enter here. 

But like always, I'll start with the positives. So, let's get this show on the road!

Design

Rapunzel's design is very interesting. She's got very expressive eyes (the 'Glenn Keane eyes' so I call it) and interesting facial features like freckles and large front teeth. She also expresses her emotions through her hair, which is very endearing to say the least. 

Rapunzel's hair is an achievement in animation. That luscious blonde hair is a marvel to look at, especially when it moves. I also really like Rapunzel's color palette, but I would've prefered if her dress was a different color. I dunno, maybe blue would've worked better; litscribbles.files.wordpress.c…. That way her blonde hair would've stood out more since the combination of pink and purple is such a busy combination. She's also the only princess that walks barefoot, which makes me wonder why her feet aren't covered in splinters. Ah well, minor nitpick. 

The ONLY thing I do not like about Rapunzel's design is her voice. Mandy Moore's voice is probably the blandest Disney Princess voice I have ever heard. I've seen this movie around four times and I cannot remember Rapunzel's voice except that it sounded girly and bubbly. They could've picked someone way better for the part; maybe someone with a more dinstinct voice or with better comedic timing. This is also apperant when she sings; it's just a very pop-ish female voice that is very easy to forget. I feel that it doesn't blend well with the animation, and the voice acting is below Disney standards. Heck, I prefer Snow White's squeak than Rapunzel's voice because at LEAST I can remember it and it blended with the animation just fine.

Personality

Alright so...here is where I get really critical *puts on flame shield*. 

To me; Rapunzel's personality, ambitions, and development makes absolutely no sense.

On the surface, Rapunzel is a pretty good role model and she isn't promoting bad morals or anything of the sort. I understand why people gravitate to her because she has so many (unnecessary) talents and she's just the typical quirky girl. In a way, I see her as the 'blank slate' Princess (not to be confused with Aurora who is the 'plot device' Princess). This becomes apperant because her development as a character is very risk free and ignores any sense of reality. 

Now let's take a look at the biggest flaw Rapunzel has in a writer's point of view, and this trait alone makes her one of the worst written Princesses. Despite having no human contact and interaction whatsoever, Rapunzel acts like a normal, sociable, emotionally sane, and dependable teenage girl. Rapunzel's ONLY human interaction is Mother Gothel, whom is NOT a good person and she mentally manipulates her and abuses her. This is ALL she knows. But you are expecting me to believe that someone who's been isolated from the world her whole life will stand up for herself in front of an army of thugs, dance and socialize in a square full of people, and knock a thief unconscious WITHOUT being scared shitless and confused about her surroundings? You can argue that she was scared at first with the thugs, but that was because they all looked intimidating at first (and immediately afterwards, she dances and sings with them). 

Disney has written a character of this nature before whom was more realistically protrayed, and his name is Quasimodo. 

Quasimodo's advantage however, is that he could SEE how humans interacted and how society works from the top of the cathedral. Despite this he was mentally abused by his surrogate parent and had a variety of talents that ADD to his character and are not just sprinkled in for the sake of it. With all of this in mind, Quasimodo acted like a person who would have his upbringing. He is very soft spoken, extremely timid, and has a very 'black and white' point of view (he idolizes Esmeralda as an angelic picture of goodness). When he goes to town he DOESN'T socialize, he looks terrified and confused since it's a new experience for him.

Rapunzel on the other hand goes to town and MAKES FRIENDS WITH EVERYONE THROUGH A HUGE DANCE NUMBER, despite the fact she has never seen a town so close nor so many people at the same time. Let me remind you that she's been raised in ISOLATION her whole life, and not only that but she's been told OVER AND OVER again by Mother Gothel that people are EVIL. 

But nope, because of a convinience of the plot Rapunzel acts like a normal person. Which frustrates the heck out of me because she could've been SO interesting! Just imagine the juicy character development she could've gone through! However the makers were too focused in making her a likable and 'strong' heroine than making her a real person. 

Another thing that frustrates me is her relationship with Mother Gothel. This could've been SO complex, and to the people who THINK that this relationship is complex I'm sorry but I don't see it.

Mother Gothel is one of the most one dimensional villains I have ever seen. Firstly, she has NO reason whatsoever why she wants to be young forever other than her LOOKS. There is no implication of a past tragedy, no trace of humanity whatsoever she just wants to be PRETTY. This strips her away from her complexity entirely, and because Rapunzel herself is also a  simple character their relationship isn't as multilayered as people gush about. Secondly, Mother Gothel does not LOVE Rapunzel. This makes her an even worse villain because if she loved Rapunzel it would've actually made her interesting and more dangerous. She would've had more motivations to keep Rapunzel to herself. Every time I see Mother Gothel I see wasted potential. 

Rapunzel's interactions with Gothel are interesting in a surface level but since it doesn't seem to affect her at the end of the story when she recieves that epiphany (which was really contrived) she switches completely. She goes completely against Gothel despite the fact that she was her captor and caretaker for 18 years. I'm not saying that it was bad for Rapunzel to turn against Gothel and rebel, I just thought it was really clumsily done and it dampers the 'complexity' people rave about. Wouldn't be more interesting if Rapunzel went through a dilemma? That she had to choose between a mother she knew her whole life to a mother who she doesn't know at all? But nope, since Gothel is the one dimensional villain she will be treated as such. 

Going back to Quasimodo (who is more emotionally abused than Rapunzel), there are times he thinks Frollo might be right due to his own insecurities and upbringing. Rapunzel just makes a complete switch instead of gradually developing as a person.

The ONLY part where I thought Rapunzel was at her best character wise was when she left the tower and she was feeling incredibly guilty. Too bad that only happens in that scene, it's just hijinks and fun from there. 

Unlike the other Disney Princesses, Rapunzel's 'dream' is just seeing these floating lanterns which I'm going to be honest...It's a pretty lukewarm dream compared to the rest of the Princesses. It could've been easily solved with Gothel just taking her to see the lanterns on a boat. I feel that it would've been more realistic if Rapunzel got out of the tower out of curiousity and she saw the lights by accident. The sight would show her how beautiful the outside world is and made her desire to leave her tower permanently more understandable. The lanters just seem like a coldly calculated plot point rather than a character's inner desire. 

Conclusion: Alright so do I hate Rapunzel? No. I do think she's better than Aurora and in some ways she's better than Ariel. But I do believe she's rediculously overrated. In my opinion she's the Princess that learns the least, makes less sense, and is the least memorable. But a lot of people would disagree since she's so insanely popular.

I'll let you decide. 





Add a Comment:
 
:iconampharosisawesome:
ampharosisawesome Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2015
Great analysis!!!
only thing: Rapunzel is not the only barefoot princess. Pocahontas is barefoot throughout the entire movie if I'm not mistaken.
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Ah thank you! I didn't notice that! :)
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:iconstilith:
Stilith Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2013
YES! Thank you! 
Gees, it could've been so interesting, but it seems Disney prefers quantity over quality nowadays. Maybe making thought-through characters and unusual plot themes just takes too much time from making even more movies as fast as possible. :XD:

Just one thing that bugs me aside from the things you brought up and maybe it seems insignificant to some: Rapunzel is named after salad. I heavily doubt that the king and queen would name their daughter Cabbage or Lettuce, and Mother Gothel has absolutely no reason to call her that either. Even in reference to the original story, it would have made more sense for Gothel to name her after the flower. 
It might not sound like a big deal, but it is to me. I think it shines a great big spotlight on the lack of attention to detail put into the movie. That, and that apparently convenience>sensemaking. 

Tangled is just one of those movies I have very little good to say about, but still really like for some reason I can't explain.  
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2013  Student Digital Artist
In the original story, the Queen had a craving for Rapunzel flowers when she was pregnant and the King stole some from Mother Gothel's garden. Mother Gothel finds out and she tells him that if he takes the flowers she will take his daughter. So the king takes the flowers x-x
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:iconstilith:
Stilith Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2013
Is that the original plot for the movie? I was talking about the difference between the original fairytale and the finished movie.  In the original story as I've heard it, the "queen" is a poor housewife and like you said, her husband goes stealing the witches salad. Salad, not flower. And I have a hard time seeing that magic, glowing, sunlight-flower as corn salad.  All I'm saying is that in the movie, I don't see why anyone would have named her that, and since they changed pretty much everything else except for the long elevator hair and the tower, they might've just as well changed the name of the character too. It would've made more sense to me at least. I guess I could be off, but I don't feel like I am.
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2013  Student Digital Artist
hahahah there are many versions of the story :) 
The movie's plot is completely different.
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:iconstilith:
Stilith Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2013
Yah, that's what I'm saying.
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:iconnanahuatli:
Nanahuatli Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2013
  I have a very hard time disliking Rapunzel. Part of this is probably what I've said many times: I've never particularly bonded with any of the Disney Princesses, so even if one of them is worse it's not much of a difference to me. Another part of it is that, to me, Tangled is a fun movie above all. I enjoy the animation ( the facial expressions are excellent and they kept getting better in later movies) and, really, I mostly like it for the comedy, so even if the plot is weak I don't really care.
  I agree that the "epiphany" was a total deus ex machina and didn't make sense at all. I also agree that the relationship with Gothel could have been way more interesting, but it would have turned this into a way darker movie. That's not bad in itself, but I can see why a Disney Princesses movie wouldn't want to delve into that territory. As it is, I enjoy the subtext I find in the relationship, especially the part about Gothel manipulating the affections of a naļve child who knows no other family or friends. She acts like a mother a fair part of the time and I don't think she hates Rapunzel, though ultimately she wants her for her powers. And maybe her motivations are shallow, yes, but probably not much more shallow than Maleficent's, Ursula's or the Queen in Snow White (I admit, I remember those incompletely and I might be missing something). And considering the obsession with beauty in today's society, I think "wanting to be magically pretty and young forevur" is nothing if not human. A lot of humans want to be surgically/pharmaceutically pretty and young forevur.
   Yeah, I guess they should have made her way more awkward and scared around people than she turned out to be. I can't deny that, or the pointlessness of her "dream" as a plot device. I think your disgust for the song where she displays her talents is a nitpick, however. I see it mostly as introducing the boredom of her life in a tower. She's saying "I have to do all these things to keep myself from going crazy with boredom" rather than "I can do all these things. Be impressed." Other than her painting, they don't get mentioned again, so I see them more as... song props, one could say. Oh, and I love her design. The overbite and freckles are adorable (but if I hear someone saying "I don't like those big-eyed Asian cartoons" and "the Japanese have an eye fetish" I'll punch them in the face and show them her picture).
   Oe thing I did dislike about the movie was the focus on Flynn Rider. This is HER story, and he contributes absolutely nothing other than funny hijinks with Maximus. It's not even like she learns something from him, like Tiana from Naveen.
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2013  Student Digital Artist
At least Maleficent was a demoness and she had a kickass design and was overall memorable. Ursula also has a fantastic voice, design and is utterly memorable. The Evil Queen gets points from me for being so damn scary at the end of the movie. Mother Gothel is just...really bland. The fans make her seem more 'complex' than she actually is. 
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:iconnanahuatli:
Nanahuatli Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2013
Hm, I don't find her so bland. I really like "Mother knows best" in both versions. Her design isn't so memorable, I guess.
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2013  Student Digital Artist
She's bland compared to Maleficent, Ursula, and the Evil Queen is what I mean. Maleficent had a better design, Ursula had a better song (and design), and the Evil Queen was scarier. In my opinion she fails in her own category. 
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:iconlolzwaitwhat:
lolzwaitwhat Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I liked that she hit people with frying pans though! :D (Big Grin) 
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:iconzactoab:
zactoab Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
So, how would you recommend writing a character that's been isolated for most of their life?
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Research, research, research :)
It's tricky to write a character like Rapunzel since the only person she has ever seen is Gothel and no one else. So I think researching people who lived a life like Rapunzel will do the trick. 
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:iconzactoab:
zactoab Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
If only it were as easy as to type it into Google and hit search
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I personally look for documentaries on Youtube. 
Reply
:icon4eyesneko:
4eyesneko Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013
I loved Tangled, but because of the horse and the dude ( I forget his name, I never recall names.) The thugs were really enjoyable. 


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:icontrinosaur:
Trinosaur Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Have you seen Frozen yet, kitten? I'm dying to hear what you have to say about it.
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Reply
:icontrinosaur:
Trinosaur Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Oh awesome! I wrote a review for it too, the day after seeing it:
triforceratops.tumblr.com/post…

It's interesting hearing your thoughts!
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:iconkaralora:
Karalora Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
My theory is that Rapunzel is so popular because the writers took bits and pieces of all the other Princesses in designing her look, personality, and circumstances. So whoever your favorite was before 2010, Rapunzel reminds you of her. (This may be another way of expressing your "blank slate" theory.) The downside, of course, is that she doesn't bring anything new to the table. The entire movie, in fact, is mostly a rehash of earlier Disney stuff. Sadly, this is probably why it's popular--it's the nostalgia factor. It came about at the right time to grab the attention of the generation that grew up on Mermaid and Beauty now that they're grown up.
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I think you are right. 

She's got a lot of Ariel and Belle in her personality just...copy paste-ish in a way. Heck she also has a lot of the Golden Age princesses too. 
The only thing 'unique' about her was her ability to paint and her frying pan weapon (which I found painfully unfunny, but that's just me). 
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:iconkaralora:
Karalora Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
You know what's weird? In the Barbie Rapunzel movie, Rapunzel was a painter.
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Hahhaha I know! I saw that movie too and I found it a huge coincidence.
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:iconyindragon:
YinDragon Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013
Everything you've said about Rapunzel is exactly what was going through my mind when I first saw the movie. She was raised in total isolation, entirely dependent on Mother Gothel, and yet she acts like a well adjusted, modern day (American) girl who just happens to have a bit too much free time on her hands.

As for Mother Gothel, I agree that she was colossal waste of potential. Even if Rapunzel wasn't her daughter, after 18 years of caring for her, you'd think she'd form some kind of maternal bond and perhaps realize that there's more to life than looks. (A more touching ending would be Gothel realizing this and valuing Rapunzel's happiness over eternal youth in one final act of selflessness). Same with Rapunzel, with Gothel being her whole world, yet she's so quick to reject her after learning the truth about her lineage.
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I totally agree with you!
I think it would've been more interesting if it was GOTHEL had sliced off Rapunzel's hair. If she were the one that set her free and she died because of it. 
But apperantly a 'three day romance' was more important D:
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:iconmoonstruck-badger:
Moonstruck-badger Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Honestly I'll never understand why Rapunzel is so popular... she was just so boooooooring.
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
You and me both x-x
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:iconlyndseybug:
Lyndseybug Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013
I think the biggest problem with Tangled is that I loved everything about the movie - except Rapunzel. She was just so damn booooooring. She has that 'look-at-me-I'm-that pretties-smartest-and-most-talented-girl-ever' thing going on. She's surrounded by characters that are, for the most part, complex and make you care about them. I mean I know Flynn was changed a lot in development (wasn't his original design more in line with Kristoff from Frozen?) but a least he had a background that was tragic and explained why he was such an ass in the beginning. Mary Sue... er I mean Rapunzel just goes around making friends with everyone for no other reason besides see some lanterns and then 'OMG I'm a princess!' and boom Happily Ever After! It felt like she didn't have to work for her HEA and I just can't stand when that happens.
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I didn't find Flynn complex either because well...His backstory was told and not shown, and he just wanted to be a fictional character adventurer (but then he decided to be a thief? why?). Like he's better than Rapunzel character wise because he changes but his character has been done better before. 

But yeah I agree with the rest of your statement. I think the best characters of the movie are Rapunzel's biological parents.
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:iconlyndseybug:
Lyndseybug Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013
And they had a total of what? Ten minutes of screen time? 
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Yeah :( They also had no dialogue. 
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:iconjadeitea:
Jadeitea Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I can see where you're coming from. I actually liked Tangled, like I mentioned earlier, but I also felt Rapunzel's relationship with Gothel improbable, to say the least. There are SO MANY stories where two characters, good and "bad", live with each other for a period of time, and the "bad" one changes because they interact with someone who brings out the good hidden inside them (sorry for excessive use of "good" and "bad"). Take Beauty and the Beast, for example. I wouldn't mind Gothel dying in the end after all, but some character complexity would indeed be nice.

Though I must admit I didn't realize how unrealistic the portrayal of Rapunzel as a normal, cheerful girl was. Thank you for pointing it out. :)
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Oh I wasn't expecting Gothel to be changed by Rapunzel, but a portrayal of how 'love' can be negative too. If Gothel selfishly loved Rapunzel her grip on her would be even tighter and it would've made her more dangerous and interesting. 


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:iconjadeitea:
Jadeitea Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I see. Well, that would be unrealistic too. I mean, how Gothel and Rapunzel behave around each other is quite similar to a real-life toxic relationship (or so I presume, never been in one long enough to speak from experience, but the emotional abuse and self-consciousness caused by it are there). It's how Rapunzel acts around everyone else what makes her less real.

And yeah, the selfish love would make it more credible, especially that the movie conveys a message that people who act like that are emotional abusers, which is clearly not okay, but by picturing Gothel as an entirely evil character, it kind of says that either you love someone and that's good, or you don't, and that's bad - it doesn't deal with the shades of grey (I swear, no pun intended here).

On a side note, you did a great job with Marigold and Rue's relationship (Mari's features even resemble Rapunzel's a great deal: golden hair, freckles, prominent front teeth - maybe purely accidentally, but it's a nice parallel), because we can see that Rue does love her daughter, even if she's a toxic parent (her divorce with Surge didn't help with Mari's issues, I'm sure), so it's not a black-and-white situation.
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Oh gosh I didn't realize that Rue and Mari were similar! Hahhahah But when you put it that way, yes! I do see it. 

That's why I believe Frozen was better than Tangled. The sister relationship wasn't 'bad' nor 'good' it was complicated. Which delves into more complex themes and makes the dynamic more interesting! :)
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