Friday, March 16, 2007

Disney’s “Rapunzel”

Rapunzel was to be Disney’s much-anticipated return to animated fairy tales. When Disney and Pixar split, we were told that Rapunzel would be computer generated. This would be Disney’s ANSWER to Pixar. This would be the proof that Disney was still king of the cartoon hill.

They paraded
Glen Keane, master animator (and director of this new film), in front of the media. He promised that Rapunzel would be not only a film of “astonishing beauty” but the world’s MOST gorgeously rendered animated film ever produced. It's images would have the kind of lush detail you’d see in the paintings of Jean-Honore Fragonard:

However, in a recent (and superb) article on Jim Hill Media we learn that this high profile film is actually getting bogged down and pushed back because… they’re still trying to come up with a workable script.


Not only that, the new head honcho of Disney animation, Pixar's John Lasseter, has given Glen Keane until June to fix the script or he may be off the project. Or dare I say it? The plug may be pulled.


Let’s consider the story, shall we?

(This is a short summary from Wikipedia.)

A young couple wanted a child more than anythig. They lived next to a walled garden which belonged to an
enchantress. To their great joy, the wife became pregnant, and one day, she noticed some rapunzel (or, in some versions of the story, blue radishes), planted in the garden and longed after it to the point of death. For two nights, the husband went out and broke into the witch's garden to gather some for her, but on the third night, as he was scaling the wall to return home, the enchantress (Dame Gothel) appeared and accused him of thievery. He begged for mercy, and the old woman agreed to give him some, on condition that their child will be surrendered to her when it is born. Desperate, the man agreed. A girl was born. The enchantress appeared, and the child was taken away. She named her Rapunzel. When Rapunzel reached her twelfth year, the enchantress shut her away into a tower in the middle of the woods with neither stairs nor door and only one room and one window. When the witch went to visit Rapunzel, she stood beneath the tower and called out:

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,
so that I may climb the golden stair.

Upon hearing these words, Rapunzel would wrap her long,
fair hair around a hook that sat beside the window, and drop it down to the enchantress, who would then climb up the hair to Rapunzel.

One day a prince rode through the forest and heard Rapunzel singing from the tower. Entranced by her ethereal voice, he went to look for the girl and found the tower, but no door leading in, and no stairway leading up. He then returned often, listening to her sing, and one day saw the enchantress visit, thus learning how to gain access to Rapunzel. When the witch was gone he bade Rapunzel let her hair down, and he climbed up, made her acquaintance, and asked her to marry him. Rapunzel agreed.

Together they planned a way to get her out of the tower: he would come each night (thus avoiding the enchantress who visited her by day), and bring her
silk, which Rapunzel would gradually weave into a ladder. Before the plan came to fruition however, Rapunzel accidentally revealed her relationship to the prince to the enchantress. In the first edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Rapunzel innocently asks why her dress was getting tight around her belly, alerting the witch. In subsequent editions, she asked the witch one day (in a moment of forgetfulness) why it was easier for her to draw him up instead of her. In anger, Dame Gothel cut short Rapunzel's braided hair and cast her out into the wilderness to fend for herself.

When the prince returned and called out to her, the enchantress let the braids down to haul him up. To his horror he found himself staring at the witch instead of Rapunzel, who was nowhere to be found. When she told him in anger that he would never see Rapunzel again, he leapt from the tower in despair. He fell into a patch of thorns that pierced his eyes and
blinded him.

For months he wandered through the wastelands of the country. During this time, Rapunzel gave
birth to the prince's twin children, a boy and a girl. One day, while Rapunzel sang as she fetched water, the prince heard Rapunzel's voice again and they were reunited. When they fell into each other's arms, her tears immediately restored his sight. The prince led her and their children to his kingdom, where they lived happily ever after.


I might actually puke.

So tell me, guys, what’s wrong with this story and how would you fix it?


Nick H said...

I would give the prince a wisecracking comedy sidekick with the voice of Adam Sandler.

It would not be a comedy. Obviously.

Although, other than the impregnation part and the prince having his eyes skewered, I think this could make a great kids film. There's certainly a lot for a writer to hang their hair on...sorry...hat on.

Mim said...

The Rapunzel story is very problematic in today's society. It's about every bad thing that has ever been done to young girls to keep them docile.

Disney might have better luck trying to write a script about foot-binding.

I recently looked at Grimm's Fairy Tales for a story I could adapt into a romantic comedy and Rapunzel was the first one I discarded.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

I'd have Rapunzel be charming and sympathetic but selfish and prideful due to a life of pampered isolation. Then make her sacrifice her hair and her beauty for a noble reason -- kind of like Beauty and the Beast in reverse.

Unknown said...

The problem is that the protagonist (Rapunzel) is passive. She does NOTHING active. Not only that, she's got no depth of character, no goals, and she merely allows events to happen to her. She's BO - RING.

Mim said...

Exactly, Rose. A passive protag doesn't move the story along.

I guess you could make the old woman the protag and set it in modern times. The old woman lost her only child when it was about 5, and has compensated by taking in foster children ever since.

Rapunzel becomes the antagonist. She's bounced from foster-home to foster-home, spending time between with her parents, who are addicts and homeless.

Or Rapunzel is the co-protag and as the old woman tames her wild spririt, she realizes that she has never really given all of herself to any of her foster kids because she never let go of her own.

And it's still not really working for me.

Mystery Man said...

And hey, let's talk about the antag. Nothing she does makes ANY sense. What does turning twelve have to do with getting locked up in a tower? Now if the protag had a GOAL, thank you Rose, and the antag was AGAINST the goal and thus, locked up little miss sunshine in the big tower, then okay.

Other thoughts:

- Why did her tears have healing powers?
- What was the point of taking the child away from the young couple? What purpose did that serve for the witch?
- How did she get up in the tower?
- So the prince actually had intercourse with her on his introduction to her? Way to go, STUD!
- Wait, is this for kids?



Unknown said...

Sorry I got into this late but in terms of a disney story, there's several issues. One, as far as I can tell, the enchantress doesn't ever really pay for their evil ways. To coin my 8 year old, she has to "fall to her doom".

Second, premarital sex in a disney film. ouch, I couldn't take my munchkins to that. In an odd kind of way, rapunzel is a mcGuffin. Both the object of desire for those who are really the protag and antag. You'd have to turn this one on it's ear to make it work. Have rapunzel, talk forest animals into retrieving the silk (remember you have to have cuddly talking animals) Have them yearn from afar but NOT be able to be together until the Very, very end of the story. Maybe rapunzel gets caught with the long hair, witch cuts it off, witch and rapunzel fight and rapunzel pushes witch out the window and she plummets to her doom. Rapunzel's animal friends help her hold onto the hair so she can climb down to her prince, who is passively yet earnestly waiting for his true love.

Mystery Man said...

Bob - I'm sure Disney would not have the sex, but they certainly have to come up with a better ending. And you're right, there's an undefined conflict without a real resolution.

I think you'd have to establish something special about Rapunzel that the witch recognized in the child, which is why the witch took her. But Rapunzel would also need a goal, perhaps to fall in love.

But love would interfere with the witch's plans, and thus she locks her up in the tower. Or something. But love triumphs, as always, in Disney flicks.

I liked MaryAn's take. That reminds me of one thing I know about Glen's approach to this story, that we first see these selfish teens living in the present and then they're somehow thrown into the fairytale world.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I like MaryAn's take, too.

The key is not to feel like you have to be faithful to the story. Certainly, the Disney versions of other fairy tales are not much like the Grimm's versions.

What do people remember about Rapunzel? That she's locked up in a tower by a witch, who uses her long hair to climb up to her, and that a prince finds her (and in my faulty memory, I thought he rescued her.)

Keep those elements, and you can take it anywhere you want.

Mystery Man said...

Thanks for that, Laura. I completely agree!


Anonymous said...

Hmm, interesting topic...

Here's my take on

Rapunzel: Kid-Friendly Version

What if, the baby had a special quality called "hope", since her parents had "hoped" for her.The witch recognized that quality, and it is known that with hope, you have some kind of magical ability, so the witch wanted her.

With the tower, we could make the reason for the witch to place her on the tower is to build up her "hope" (that she may find her real parents or that she may find a worthy reason to live) in order to strengthen that magical ability.

Then, here comes the prince, who hears her singing just like the original, and he climbs up the tower, and gives her a reason to live and to escape the tower.

The witch learns of their meeting with the prince and somehow gets her magical ability and casts her on the wilderness. With almost no hope left, she wanders and remembers that the prince will be going to the tower that night, so she tries to find her way back to the tower.

But, it was too late as the witch already got rid of him. She is able to harness her magical ability to defeat the witch, but she realizes that she couldn't revive the prince. Then, when tears start to fall, the prince was revived, and, the happy ending returns.


Mystery Man said...

I like it! I think Grimm's story is holding you back somewhat, because you're trying to be faithful to it, yet, in your interpretation, Rapunzel is still passive. She needs to have some inner goals, something she wants in life, and she makes decisions that push the story forward in some way. As it is, she doesn't really do much until the end. Making her special in a magical kind of way is good start, I think, but I need more from her, some goals she has that push the story forward.

Hope that makes sense.


rebekahz said...

This story isn't exactly one for children. But think about the original Snow White. That sure wasn't for children either. I'm sure Disney has ideas on how to make it great for the whole family.

Mystery Man said...

Hey Rebekah -

The only idea that I've heard about was that we would meet some contemporary spoiled teens who are somehow thrown into this fairy tale world. I'm not crazy about this idea. I'd just assume the entire story takes place in the past in the fairy tale world.

Rapunzel is doable but with great liberties, I think. I'd love to see this film - with a good story.

Thanks so much for your comment.


Anonymous said...

Well, how I'd do it is make Rapunzel's isolation self-imposed. I mean, there's really no EVIL reason the witch would keep her in a tower - I mean, she doesn't get anything out of it. No ransom, the girl doesn't do anything, and the witch has to pay taxes on it.

I had an idea in mind that had Rapunzel as a geeky inventor type who grows her hair long because she feels like it. She's viciously bullied, and decides to retreat to a tower so that she doesn't have to deal with it anymore. Her stepmother favours this due to her own persecution for being a witch.

This could be an opportunity for a quirky, "nerd" heroine as well as a sympathetic villain. really doesn't look like Disney's going in that direction.

Mystery Man said...

No, it doesn't, but ya know, that's a pretty darn funny take on that story. In fact, that's some hardcore "outside the box" thinking. I love it.

And you gotta have a love story with a prince in there somewhere.


Anonymous said...

I think Disney could restructure the story quite a bit by looking at one or two of the Grimms' other fairy tales for inspiration. I do think it would be good to keep the film quite dark however - classic Disney has a tradition of sinister aspects - and this would help Disney to get one up on Dreamworks - funny as 'Shrek' was it totally skimped on the shadowy underside of fairy tales which is a key part of the genre for me.
The Disney version should begin with a Prince whose mother is ill and dying, but the Prince hears the legend of a girl, Rapunzel, whose tears can heal the sick or injured. Travelling to the domain of the wicked Witch the prince finds Rapunzel locked in the tower - the only entrance via her hair etc etc. Unbeknown to the Prince, Rapunzel has lost her ability to cry owing to her harsh upbringing by the Enchantress which has made her somewhat cynical and selfish. The Witch herself is enraged by this emotional drout - having stolen Rapunzel from her parents when she was baby precisely so that she could exploit this magical ability. She has threatened the girl with dire punishment unless she can come up with the good pronto. Hence Rapunzel's iminant need for escape. Rapunzel should not care for the prince initially, but is driven to deceit by her desperation to be free. She promises to give him the magic tears if he in return will steel a pair of enchanted scissors from the witch (the only means of Rapunzel gaining escape from the tower). The Prince risks his life to steel the scissors, but Rapunzel fobs him off with vial of ordinary water, then makes her escape by cutting her long hair which opens up tower magically setting her free. When the Prince discovers the deception he returns to the tower to berate Rapunzel but is met by the angry Witch who is furious to have had her prize stolen from her and blinds the Prince condemning him to wander dazed in her enchanted garden/forest hereafter. Meanwhile Rapunzel, travelling under a false name arrives at the castle of the Prince, where she meets the dying Queen - his mother - and hears of the Prince's disappearence. Knowing that her selfishness is partly to blame for these catastrophes, Rapunzel suffers the first pangs of conscience she has ever known. When the Witch demands Rapunzel in return for the Prince's life and liberty, Rapunzel realises that she will only be free of her nemesis if she confronts the Witch herself. She does so bravely, and after doing battle with the Witch destroys her. When she finally finds the Prince she is so moved by his stricken state that she begins to weep at last, and the magic tears restore his sight. At this point of course they fall in love and live happily ever after. Visually I imagine Rapunzel in the style of an animated film noir - Rapunzel herself as a sort of mixed-up femme-fatale with a heart. The Brothers Grimm mention that the Witch has a garden - this should be an enchanted garden where the flowers and trees can talk and move about - as in 'Alice in Wonderland' and the Disney Silly Symphony 'Flowers and Trees'. This could provide the compulsory 'animal friends' for the heroine - but some of the trees could also be malevolent - servants of the Witch - so there'd be a touch of the scary forest from 'Snow White' in there too. Above all there is no reason why Rapunzel should be a passive heroine in the traditional Disney mould. One possible moral of the story is that Rapunzel, a young woman deprived of her liberty and forced into a passive role by circumstance, learns to take control of her own destiny. In the process she also gains a heart or soul or whatever - in the traditional Disney manner. But the point should be that Rapunzel doesn't want to be a 'damsel in distress' and is shown rebelling against this stereotype throughout the movie. I imagine her ending up as a couragious warrior woman in the manner of 'Mulan' or Eowyn in the 'Lord of the Rings'. Possibly she should be reunited with 'mom and dad' at the end too - just for good measure.

Mystery Man said...


That's not bad. But I wonder, true love can't begin with a deception, can it?


Anonymous said...

I’ve noticed that a lot of you are wondering why the witch put Rapunzel in the Tower. In one version I read while I was looking at the history of Rapunzal and other fairytales. That the witch did love Rapunzel, and when she was 12 she noticed that Rapunzel was growing up and that she would one day leave her. So she locked her up in the tower deep in the wood so that she could have her forever. And in another version the story doesn’t end with the Prince finding her. After he finds her the witch find out about it and tries to destroy them again, but because of her motherly love for Repunzel, she has a moment of compassion, and lets them go.

I think they should use some of these things in the story. I was going to give you some of my ideas to change the story and make it better, but I want to be a writer, and as I was writing this I decided I was going to write my on version of the story. But I definitely think Disney needs to think out side of the box of this story, keep the basic skeleton but change it like they do every thing else.

Mystery Man said...

Those are great comments. Thanks so much for that. I can't help but wonder of the witch should be an antagonist (villain) in the traditional sense and there would have to be a great showdown in the third act, like Ursual and the Prince in the Little Mermaid?


Thanks again.


Anonymous said...

i liked blogues idea. its better than what they came up with.
rapunzel is one of the oldest of fairytales and as a result would be very hard to connect with mordern society. Disney should slightly modernise the plot but keep it a period piece - having the story set in the modern world would be disney's biggest mistake. A good idea would be to basically dedicate this movie to all the previous fairyales that disney has dealed with, adding in subtle references from snow white, ciderella, little mermaid, beauty and the beast etc but obviously make it original.
And maybe the character of Rapunzel could convey certain memorable traits from other disney princesses. the voice and Rebelliousness of Ariel, the knowledge and the desire for adventure of belle. the beauty and suffering of Cinderella etc.

i'll have to think about it

Mystery Man said...

Not bad, not bad, although I'd avoid referencing any other fairy tale. You have to maintain a self-contained universe so people won't be pulled out of the story and reminded that they're only watching a movie. A good fairy tale has to stand on its own two feet, I think.


Anonymous said...

I think Sondheim's portrayal of Rapunzel in Into the Woods is quite realistic...the Witch wishes to protect Rapunzel from the corrupt wickedness of the world, yet the only way she knows how is to lock the poor girl up in a tower. The witch also turns abusive when she finds out about Rapunzel's prince. However her abuse is out of love...she really is trying to be a good parent, yet this is the only way she knows how. She deeply loves Rapunzel--she's the only family she has. But since the world has done cruel things to the Witch, she won't allow Rapunzel to be suseptible to the world as well. This however leads Rapunzel to insanity due to her neglect and she is later killed by the Giant and the second act, leaving the Witch bitter. Obviously Sondheim is a 180 degree turn from Disney...I doubt they'd make a film with abuse and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Mystery Man said...

I've been waiting for someone to bring up Into the Woods! Thanks for that. With respect to, "Obviously Sondheim is a 180 degree turn from Disney...I doubt they'd make a film with abuse and post-traumatic stress syndrome," I'd definitely pay to see that. Hehehe..

Thanks again.


Unknown said...

"Beauty and the Beast's" original story had no antagonist, and no real action either; it was 2 people sitting at dinner every night for 3 months with Beast asking to marry Beauty and her declining until after she visited home and realized she cared about Beast. The Disney version added an antagonist (pulled from the Cocteau film version) and the transformed servants, dropped Beauty's siblings, changed Dad's profession and role, etc.

"The Little Mermaid" is almost an entirely different story with so many changes to that tale, especially how it ends; Andersen's version isn't nearly as traditionally happy as the modern movie. Most parents wouldn't read the original to their kids today either given the imagery and maybe complexity that was simplified in the movie.

As long as the story has the same basic elements and is told well, it will be a decent retelling. Disney has had to kid-friendly -all- of the old stories and alter the characters and situations a great deal to make them work not only for the censors, but also to be viable on the screen; a lot of the older stories were great on paper, but aren't easily directly transfered.

Mystery Man said...

Thanks for that, but my question was, "how would you fix it?"

It's so easy to just say that it needs some basic elements and it has to be well told. Obviously. But what does that mean for THIS story?


Anonymous said...

I like the idea of using this story for a Disney movie. Yes they'll have to do some stuff to it, but I think it can make a great film in Disney's classic style. I really liked this story as a youngster. However I don't think the version I used to read included the sex beforehand. I don't remember. Either way, I agree with the fact that the motives and plot will have to be different. Rapunzel definetely needs to be wanting to get out and needs to have a reason to be trapped in there anyway. The witch could be able to foresee something that makes her want the baby. What if she foresees that Rapunzel is the crowned prince's one true love and the entire thing is a type of slow motion coup d'etat? She knows about the prince visiting every night and somehow unintentionally alludes to this fact to Rapunzel. Rapunzel doesn't know what the witch is planning but knows she must escape soon. On the day of the escape, the witch disguises her voice as the prince's and climbs up the tower. She plans on killing Rapunzel and fooling the prince into marrying her so she can take over the kingdom from the inside out. A struggle insues and the witch cuts off Rapunzel's hair at the neckline, and the two tumble out of the tower, grabbing the silk rope Rapunzel had fashioned and previously tied for her escape. The prince riding in on his horse sees the two plummet after the silk rope breaks and charges his horse towards the witch. She sends a spell at his face, hitting him and blinding him. Running towards her prince, Rapunzel, by a magical pull on her waist, is sent to the desert. The prince's horse gallops away, while he rides slumped over. The witch takes the throne, sending the kingdom into darkness. After wondering aimlessly, for months, the prince collapses, giving up his blind search for his love. He wakes up to hear Rapunzel's soft voice singing to him. They reunite, although he can't see her, and they make their way back towards his castle. However they do it, they end up confronting the witch queen, and the situation becomes dire. The witch points her hand at the prince's face saying she should have done this in the first place. She hits him with a spell, and he crumples. Rapunzel, devastated, rushes to his side. When he doesn't respond, she begins to cry. Her tears heal him, but she's unaware of this. She runs at the witch and they start fighting. They proceed to end up on a balcony of the castle, where Rapunzel is seemingly cornered at the edge. The prince comes out, sees the witch recounting her final evil thoughts, and calls out. In the moment of dawning, the witch sends a spell at the prince, who puts up his sword, blocking the spell and sending it rebounding upon the witch. She falls off the balcony, knocking Rapunzel off too. The witch plummeting to her death, the prince runs to the edge, seeing Rapunzel hanging on just out of reach. Ironically, he has to send something down for her to climb up to get to him...You can fill in the rest. Man, I don't know if this is a terrible idea or what but I just kind of got on a roll and had fun with it.

Mystery Man said...

Thanks for that, man. That was entertaining. I'm not sure I understood the witch's motivation to do all of that, but that was fun. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

yeah I'm not sure either, but it was fun to think about.

Jessse said...

yeah, i was also waiting for someone to reference into the woods (i really hope that there are beans... like, just in the corner of one shot, but it would make me happy ^^)
I'm also super excited that Kristen Chenoweth is gonna be the voice!!!

so, ideas for the plot:
i think the babies can be forgotten about, there are plenty of ways for the witch to figure out that Rapunzel's got a visitor other than that.

what if the witch is the queen? the princes mother... and her motivation is like a Fantasticks sorta plot... and the witch just takes it really far...

i also think there needs to be a comic relief... whether its in the form of a dumb sidekick or a talkin animal, its pretty much a disney must.

theres still the problem that Rap is pretty boring and lame. i love the nerd idea so much, but i also dont think its gonna happen :(
i dont think mentally retarded will fly...
she could be really really roudy and what not... and the original parents could have given the kid to the witch caus they couldnt handle her... no... the more i think about that idea the less i like it...
i also really like the magic tear idea, where rap is kinda mean (but with, or corse, a heart of gold!)

best of luck to the writers of it, and i am excitedly waiting for it)

Anonymous said...

I think I've got an idea! In the original Snow White se was asleep for a huge amount of time. Disney shortened that. Why not shorten the time in the tower? Perhaps the mother is a very protective mother, like in Into the Woods. Her "daughter" Rapunzel has turned sixteen and is starting to notice boys- like the Prince. The witch wants Rapunzel all to herself and locks her in a tower for say a year or two. The Prince of course is devastated and searches everywhere to see her. Meanwhile Rapunzel matures into a fully developed women and her hair has grown as well! Finally the Prince does find her and he promises to let her go before escaping. The witch pries out who came from Rapunzel and sets a trap for him. The Prince goes for the bait and he and the witch struggle. In an attempt to save Rapunzel the Prince sacrifices his life and pulls the witch out of the tower with him. Rapunzel rushes down the tower (Somehow, we'll consider that later) and to his side. Her tears of love revive him. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

The thing that could make it work is to add a companion to Rapunzel, like a camaleon or some sort of little funny animal, with an accent, like Sebastian, (Ariel) or a very recognized voice, like Mulan's Mushu. The which, of course could not know, but at least Rapunzel doesn't end up by being all alone and sad, which would make the story a no-no for kids...
Also, the which would have to visit her at night, leaving the prince the day option, where they have a ton of fun... Careful, though... It is a kid's movie and there is no way sex could be insinuated, because that would guarantee retaliation from the most hipocritical parents. Also, Rapunzel could have the appeal that works for little girls... A fairy God-Mother who is only Half-powerful and therefore, cannot set her free, but can grant her some wishes, good food, imaginary trips around the world where she experiences things, whithout actually leaving the tower...or whatever else you can imagine... And when the prince comes along to save her, he can come all-mighty, has an ultimate fight good versus evil where in the end, good wins, of course... Yes, there are some essencial differences from the original story, but it might be the only way to bring forth a princess who is actually beautiful and impressive and just as a reminder, little girls want to see women and not child-like princesses... No matter how pretty the drawings are, if Rapunzel is not someone they can dream of becoming when they grow up, they will never go for the story.
And good luck!

annieroze said...

Has anyone seen Mattel's Barbie as Rapunzel? The story line isn't bad. It involves a magic paintbrush left by Rapunzel's parents. When she paints a picture with it, the painting becomes magical and she can step into the place. There are some problems with the plot though.

Carson said...

I like Peter's idea with shortening the time frame. Rapunzel could enter the story someware in her late teens. Since sooner or later she becomes a princess she could already start as one. Of course witch's can always find a reason to hate the Monarchy, just give the Witch a reason to hate the King and Queen so she can kidnap the girl. Since the Witch has Magic she creates the tower and curses Rapunzel with long hair. By the way that is one bitter witch if she gives her long hair. Can you imagine the up keep. And then to top it off she climbs up it! Truely this is one of Grimm's most Diabolical villians. This way the rescuer is free to be a prince or an Aladin type character that has no inital status. He comes kills the witch and they return to the castle to live happily ever after. THe whole point of the Disney movie is to have a bunch of little girls get atached to the Princess's Character so that they can make the real money off of over priced dolls and clothing. LOL

Anonymous said...

I think that the basic elements of the Rapunzel fairy tale are a great place to start. Most people forget that Disney's magic (used to be anyway) is taking the same tired bedtime stories and breathing new life into them.

Supposdely, Disney's approach to Rapunzel was one of those modern, overly comedic Shrek-esque spins but John Lasseter nixed the idea, instead pointing the story back to Disney's classic fairytale roots (where the true Disney magic originated).

I'm expecting something similar to the original story (Disney-fied of course) but fresh, funny and enchanting. It's never too late to hope...

And if anyone remember, in the original stories, the Little Mermaid commits suicide, the evil queen commands her huntsman to bring back Snow White's heart, planning to comsume it and don't get me started on the Arabian Nights.

It's a bit of a stretch, with their current track record of unreliability, but give them a chance. I still love Disney for what they HAVE given us, I'm hoping one day they'll find the way back to that place. Might require a s**tload of pixie dust but hey...

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned the idea of Rapunzel being a nerd, and that's somewhere along the lines of what I was thinking. This is because Rapunzel has the potential to be the most independent of the fairytale heroines.

If she didn't want the witch to visit, she wouldn't let down her hair. If she got mad at the prince, she simply wouldn't let him up. And if she truly wanted to leave, she could chop her hair off, braid it, make it into a rope, and escape. I kind of like the idea of Rapunzel has no problems with being isolated, and doesn't see what's wrong with her situation (and she'd have hobbies, like inventing, but I'd think more like being an artist or a writer).

Then of course, she meets the Prince, he tells her of the outside world, they fall in love, all that jazz.

The Braided Kitteness said...

I have to add that the witch had made a pact with evil. Evil wanted her to give them the child. she decided to let her choose, and locked her in the tower until she chose to go to evil.

She refused to choose!! This is what makes her the heroine. She refuses to turn to evil.

To fix the problems in the story you only have to make her the rebellious teen that she is. She refuses to yield to evil, but is trapped and cannot get away. The Witch loves her, in her evil kidnapper kind of way. i mean c'mon. she saved the child from parents who would trade her for LETTUCE! there's just the minor problem that her powers come from evil.

Then you have your classic Fall in love immediately scene with the prince. All of the conflict with the prince and the witch and the happily every after.

It's not much different than sleeping beauty. In FACT Rapunzel is at least AWAKE for the whole thing.

*im a bit partial, since its my favorite fairy tale*

So... Think my suggestion works?

Mystery Man said...

Thanks for your comments. For a short story, your ideas are great, but for a feature length film, I think you need more than that. With that kind of concept, I'd say that Rapunzel would need a good inner conflict and more depth.


The Braided Kitteness said...

I know. I was just noting a way of "disney-fying" the tale while sticking to the actual story. It wouldnt be too terribly hard to give her depth in her situation.


Anonymous said...

I LOVE the idea of a nerdy/quirky Rapunzel! How about:
Rapunzel is a nerdy inventor, and neglects things like her looks or CUTTING HER HAIR in lieu of being creative and quirky. However, she secretly longs to be important and to find her true love. Through some debt that her parents owe to the witch, she is traded as payment (because they don't like her or understand her or something...let's make them all aristocratic and snobby.) Maybe the witch locks her in a tower, and daily she demands a new invention, giving Rapunzel some sort of task...all the while, she is inventing some way to free herself. Then comes along the prince. Hmm. Rapunzel doesn't like him right away--she can save HERSELF, right? And he has to overcome his embarrassment of being so head over heels for a nerdy, beautiful chick. Just a start...but there is still some element missing about the witch, like why she needs Rapunzel's inventions, and how Rapunzel comes to realize she loves the prince...but i like it!

Anonymous said...

Man, our society is too concerned with protecting kids--so concerned that we destroy almost all good possibilities for this movie to be made. Seriously, Disney cant make a movie where the main character is SAD? Oh god!! The princess is LONELY!! Thats not for the kiddies!! Wow. We need to protect our kids from violence and distasteful imagery, and perhaps sexual references since premature exposure can cause them to abuse sex later on... but we DONT need to protect them from negative emotions and the basic harshness of life. Sorry, but thats just bad parenting. Lying usually is.

For example (not excluding most of the other princesses fatal flaws), Cinerella's completely unrealistic attitude toward her living conditions really annoyed me. No one who's made a servant in their own home can stay as happy and optimistic as she did. Sure a positive attitude is a good thing to admire, but they could have made it a lot less plastic by having her gain her new outlook at the END, when she fell in love and found a reason to live, where she could also let go of her bitter feelings towards her family (you can NOT tell me she didnt nearly, if not really, hate their guts). The message is still the same: dreams DO come true. Its just easier for normal humans to relate to now.

I think we should look to The Hunchback of Notre Dame for this movie's inspiration... Disney is magical at putting slight dark touches to their movies without giving them pg-13 ratings. That movie was G, but should have been PG--and it is by far the most beautiful, mature and realistic movie they've ever made. And kids liked it while the mature themes went right over their heads.

I dont have any story ideas that havent already been said, but I do know that if this movie is going to be anything worth watching for kids 3 and up (thats what veggie tales and dora are for, people), or for any other age to enjoy without puking, theyre going to have to loosen the knot around the bag of no-nos that they have sitting in their production studio. I honestly dont see the problem with tweaking the story from what it is now. Take out the impregnation, make them fall in love after more than one day, and make the princess an admirable young woman (sad and lonely to begin with--youre locked in a FREAKIN TOWER with no freedom or contact). They all look very simple to me. Jeez people.

Truly beautiful stories dont have G ratings. Remember that.


Anonymous said...

Okay, just because this is a topic I'm totally all over:

I -love- the idea of the 'Nerd' Rapunzel. Like, that's very cute and would give that character her own little personality quirks.

As well, I think a little trait for her could be that instead of talking plants of animal companions, she could 'invent' little mechanical friends.

As for the prince, why should he have to be in love with her at first? You could use that 'Loving with the heart and not the eyes' thing for his eyes as well.

However, I'm going to have to agree that Disney needs to open up their bag of nonos a little bit and maybe give some more appeal to us older audiences.

Like with Pocahontas.


Yeah. Just give the heros more than a day to fall in love and let Nerdpunzel tinker away to hell and back in her little tower.

Couldn't you see enough of those little mechnical (I'm seeing bugs in my head) critters that one gets loose and the 'Prince' is all like 'WTF IS THIS THING?'

Damn if this topic didn't inspire me to draw Nerdpunzel, though. XD

Anonymous said...

One quality that all the
princess share is showmanship. Why not make her an actress?
She can put on plays for her
comedic sidekicks, playing both
Juilet And Romeo. I like the plant idea someone had, perhaps she could be friends with vines growing on the tower. I see no problem with keeping the villain a lonely which wanting a child as opposed to a mushstash twirling evil mechine. It might turn out to be an interesting swhich up evil sept mother yearning for the unconditional love of one person princess wanting the admiration of the masses.

Karim said...

I remember seeing a Rapunzel cartoon as a kid. It wasn't so bad, maybe the blindness part was too dark. You can actually make a pretty good Snow White-ish story out of this material, but it's tricky. I'd give it a crack if I had the time.

Unknown said...

There is a book called Zel by Donna Jo Napoli that gives the witch, Rapunzel, and the prince motives and an intresting story line.

Disney should use this as an outline.

Anonymous said...

The more I've examined the ideas and older disney classics the more I can see the plot of Rapunzel forming. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White both share similar time-frames cut short. Rapunzel growing out her hair is essentially the same as Princess Aurora sleeping. It's not very interesting and it's not essential. Neither of them are the focuses of the story. In sleeping beauty you have the climax of the spindle pricking and a resolution of true love's kiss. In Snow White you have the climax of the poison apple and again the resolution of the kiss. Why not try the same with Rapunzel? The Prince Climbing the tower becomes the climax, perhaps he does it during a storm as he is getting the necessary rope to Rapunzel to escape. It's a race against time and the witch. The witch shows up, possibly turns into some sort of monster, the prince and she fight, both fall, Rapunzal's kiss to the prince is the resolution. In a sense you're reusing the classic formula to mold a seemingly dreary plot into an interesting one.

As for the characters: Rapunzel seems to work well as an inventor. I imagine she invented numerous ways to get out of the tower when she was young and thus the tower kept getting taller and taller so it would be harder and harder to escape from. Rapunzel essentially wants freedom and a breath of fresh air. She wants to see the world, fall in love, get away. She's very smart, perhaps nerdy in her own charming way, and very imaginative. It could be, as I've suggested earlier, that she manages to get out of the tower and meets the prince sparking their friendship and eventual romance. Her meeting the prince could be the reason she is locked in the tower: so the prince cannot reach her. Years later he will find her when her hair is all grown out and fall in love with her. The witch could be a character os sympathy, one who merely does all she can to hold on to what she loves most and in doing so causes her own downfall. A few ideas. What do you all think?

Meredith said...

Cinderella's step sisters cut off their toes and heels to fit the shoe and got their eyes pecked out by birds by the end. The little mermaid died. It's called "Disneyizing" for a reason. They've proven to be good at taking all the interesting bits out of stories.

Katherine said...

To Anonymous (posted August 31, 2008): I strongly disagree with you that our society is too concerned about protecting kids. All you have to do is walk through the toy or clothing isles. Skimpy bikinis are peddled to 4 year-olds, and violent toys of all kind are all the rage. (not that playing cops and robbers is a new invention!) IMHO, our society is not concerned enough about protecting innocence. Remember that innocence and naivety are two completely different things. Additionally, to your assertation that Cinderella would completely hate her stepmother and stepsisters, read a book called "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom. True story about a woman and her family sent to a Nazi prison camp. Her sister, who was her best friend, her father, and other friends died at the hands of the Nazis, yet she still learned to not only forgive, but to love those who had tormented her.

And back to the topic of the story--original fairy tails were dark and not designed with children in mind. Also, the women were not exactly heroines, as they were too passive and one-dimensional too really have much of a role. Mainly they were there because the prince needed somebody to rescue.

Anonymous said...

Rapunzel is definately what most western fairy tales are. Sexist and BORING! The princesses are portrayed as helpless, and passive. They let others make their decisions. Maybe if the story were a twist on the original Rapunzel it would be more interesting. Instead of her being FORCED to remain in the tower, maybe she just likes being there. Or she has a really free spirit but is sent their by the witch(who is good) so an evil witch or warlock cannot get to her. (Some magical power which the tower conceals?) Maybe the prince is a nerd and his parents could force him out of the castle to do "princely things". Slaying dragons. Finding magical potions. And rescuing princesses. Or maybe the prince is a typical prince who gets bored with doing these things. Maybe his girlfriend broke up with him and hes down and one of his advisors "hears" of Rapunzel. He hears she is perfect for him. All he has to do is go and "rescue" her. And from the story moving all over the place, the fact that she wants to be there(or is in there to protect her) isnt mentioned. The prince's father could be th evil warlock, and the advisor hearing of Rapunzel isnt a coincidence. When the prince succesfully takes her away, without the witch noticing, she enjoys her adventure(the witch having never told her the reason of her being locked up not wanting to scare her, just that it was for her own good). Unless she doesnt like it there, then she resists the whole way. While traveling back to the castle, they learn the princes father's secret. (Maybe the witch catches up with them) Now the prince feels horrible. But on their journey, they have fallen in love. Blah Blah Blah, great battle, the prince and Rapunzel win. The witch is ok with the marriage and they all live happily ever after in a cottage in the woods? Something like that. I think that Rapunzel shouldnt be lax she should be adventerous and wild. But why does she have to be blond and blue eyed? Maybe changing the characters appearance could liven things up a little. I find the rough sketches to look too much like Enchanted. :)

Anonymous said...

Was Rapunzel ever "rescued" by the prince, from what I can tell they planed to run away but failed. Methinks that some of you are giving the Prince a little to much credit on this one. The story isn't sexist, it is role reversal Rapunzel find the Prince in the woods and heals him just as the Princes broke Snow white and Sleeping beauty's spells. Hopefully Disney isn't going to give her mad karate skillz just to ward off accusations of "sexism"

Unknown said...

I think just about the worst part of this story is the beginning, where a father is fine with giving up his child. I think if the story just let Rapunzel be the witch's daughter, and the witch is one of those parents that can't stand the idea of her little girl growing up, so she puts her up in the tower "for her own protection". She and the prince don't fall in love right away, they are both just odd and lonely people who find a companion. This companionship grows over time, as Rapunzel weaves the ladder, they weave a relationship... it is the perfect chance for the classy Disney music montage. The witch blinding the prince is an accident. Rapunzel doesn't need to give birth, or become pregnant.

Jolly said...

I'm quite taken with this idea of Rapunzel as a nerdy/quirky recluse. Also like the suggestion of the witch as a protective misguided mother. I still think the witch needs a little more incentive to lock Rapunzel in the tower, though.

I had a thought about how the whole prince-is-pushed-from-tower-and-thorns-scratch-his-eyes-making-him-blind thing could be incorporated. Why can't the prince just be blind? And why does he need to be 'healed' by Rapunzel's magical tears??

So my idea was that the prince is just blind. He was born that way. And as a blind prince, he's smothered by the over-protective ways of the court around him and decides to set out and try living on his own, 'see' the world etc. and prove that although he's blind, he's still capable. Then ofcourse, he hears Rapunzel singing and the witch calling for Rapunzel to let down her hair. But it takes a while for him to figure out how to reach Rapunzel as he hasn't seen the witch climbing and is completely confused by it at first.

Finally, they meet and bond over their desire to be independant and escape the confines that the people who care about them place on them. And ofcourse, they fall in love.

Love to hear what you guys think of this idea. Any suggestions for the other characters' motivations in this scenario?

Cranberry said...

I think the fact that Rapunzel is raised by a witch is seriously overlooked. As she was taken as a child, there is quite a strong possibility that she doesn't remember her true parents and believes the witch to be her mother. Perhaps the witch taught Rapunzel magic in hopes to one day pass down the family business, but child/preteen Rapunzel runs into a judgmental Prince whom she argues with constantly over the fact that her "mother" is not an evil hag, and she herself is not evil. The pair challenge each other with a dangerous dare, end up in a bad situation (say, oh, with rock giants or something) and Rapunzel saves the Prince, proving she is not evil. They become good friends. Cue growing-up montage. The Prince and Rapunzel secretly fall in love, but are too shy to even say something to one another about it. Rapunzel has graduated from picking ingredients in the woods to becoming a full-fledged apprentice, actually learning some smaller spells and potions. The Prince gets sent as an ambassador to another court, but writes Rapunzel letters daily. When the witch fines out she takes the letters, insisting that Rapunzel is a witch and the boy is a Prince and that they live into two different worlds, therefore they can never be friends. Apparently royalty and magic-doers have never gotten along well. Rapunzel cries in her tower bedroom and dreams about doing magic at court for her prince.
The prince returns, but is to be engaged to a princess from the other court in three days, someone he hardly knows. Rapunzel finds out about the coming engagement by skipping out on her chores to sneak around the castle. The Prince catches her and is happy to see her again, but she lets him have it for finding another girl while he was abroad. Shocked at her anger, he confesses that it is her he loves. Before they can share a tender moment, however, the voice of the witch breaks in. It doesn't matter if they are in love, she tells them, they both have duties to perform. The prince has to marry and Rapunzel is skipping out on her chores. The witch takes Rapunzel back and effectively 'grounds' her by magically growing out Rapunzel's hair and twining it up with the roof beams of her tower room. The witch says it is for Rapunzel's own good. It is very obvious that the witch feels defensive around royalty and thinks it is important that Rapunzel and the prince be separated.

So Rapunzel is magically trapped in her tower by a protective mother and the prince is being forced to marry a stranger(who is probably at least a minor baddie by now). Rapunzel could escape the tower herself and go rescue the prince, or if you prefer to take a more traditional route, the prince could cut off the wedding and go rescue Rapunzel. Either way, the forgotten fiance is mad. Fiance uses her entourage to bind up the witch so she can't protect her rule-breaking Rapunzel, then fiance tries to attack the couple somehow, forcing Rapunzel to use her magic she learned from the witch. Together the prince and Rapunzel free the witch, and amid a tearful hug from Rapunzel gets over her prejudices. They travel to the castle to get it all sorted out with the King and Queen, and eventually the heroic couple is allowed to marry in quite possibly the most magical Disney wedding ever.

Anonymous said...

First of all, the prince should be blinded by the witch, but not have his eyes skewered! (Eww.) Maybe she pours pixie dust in them.

Secondly, Rapunzel has to become active by going into the desert to rescue the prince. She has sacrificed her hair- and thus this the symbol of her servitude. Long hair also represents innocence. The witch kept her isolated from the world- and therefore innocent, until she met the prince. Rapunzel should realize that she loves the prince, and come back to the Tower to find him. She would then learn of his fate by the witch, and go in search of him. Along the way, she should meet a good wizard/enchantress/whatever- who explains to her her own life story, and gives her some direction on how to save the prince. Something cryptic.

Maybe she would live with and study under this wise person for a while.

And then she could venture out to find the prince- armed with knowledge and portable resources.

Eventually, she would give up, and take shelter in a cave. She would have a little animal sidekick who would tell her to abandon her hope and leave the prince to the elements. She would tell the sidekick thingy that she had decided to live in this cave and wait for him.

Eventually, the prince would be lured by her singing. She would rescue him from his wandering, and she would cry over his eyes. Her compassion would restore his sight.

They would retire to his kingdom- and she would bear him two children- a boy and a girl.

One day, she would tell them the story.

And just to ram the point home- as soon as she finished the tale- an emissary would arrive from a foreign land. The emissary would suggest that the firstborn child be betrothed in order to ensure peace between their kingdoms. The prince would start to agree, but Rapunzel would stop him. Their children would make their own decisions. The emissary would turn out to be the witch in disguise. She was trying to get them to sacrifice their firstborn child in return for peace, and thus perpetuate the cycle- and thus gain her revenge.

But she is foiled by Rapunzel's gumption in rejecting her. And so she leaves forever- perhaps banished?

The end.

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