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!
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.
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.