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Tangled (2010)
They're taking adventure to new lengths.
Filmmaker(s): Byron Howard, Nathan Greno

When the kingdom's most wanted-and most charming-bandit Flynn Rider hides out in a mysterious tower, he's taken hostage by Rapunzel, a beautiful and feisty tower-bound teen with 70 feet of magical, golden hair. Flynn's curious captor, who's looking for her ticket out of the tower where she's been locked away for years, strikes a deal with the handsome thief and the unlikely duo sets off on an action-packed escapade, complete with a super-cop horse, an over-protective chameleon and a gruff gang of pub thugs.

Tangled (2010)

Drawing Love

Sometimes the inner narrative is clear.

The outer narrative is fine enough to sell tickets to parents, thinking this is what their kids want and their kids returning the favour. You’ll have to read elsewhere for how well this is done. What fascinates me is how obviously we can see what concerns the animators.

This is marketed not as a film in its own right, but as the 50th Disney animation. It is easy to see it as such, as a narrative about the artists.

Our heroine starts the film with her obsessive two-dimensional drawings, quite literally cartoons like the initial Disney era. In these is a depiction of an event that we discover is her dream, her wish. Following the princess formula, which Disney invented, we hear her ‘wish song,‘ about this dream.

The dream is fulfilled in ‘paintery 3d‘ as the main story.

By the end of the film, we are reminded that her memories and the projected cartoon of the entire film has been painted on the walls of her space. There is literally a moment where they start to merge. But in between we have the layer of that cartoon in the ‘real world,‘ meaning the three dimensional world of the current animation technology. In that layer, we have the quest for the three dimensional experience: the losing of the lantern kites on an anniversary.

When this came for me, I was overwhelmed. This was partially because the ‘fold‘ worked for me; The watched cartoon was on the walls and the real world was the one I shared with the characters. Disney first did this (to my knowledge) in their dinosaur movie where the ‘cartoon‘ was in cave paintings.

The ‘lights‘ was an extraordinarily well done adventure in framing, editing and camera angle selection. There is no Pixar influence here — this is all homegrown Disney and now that Pixar is worn out, we may see a new generation of animated cinema here.

Another reason it worked for me is the simple geometry of romantic imagination. Connection is spatial, extreme spatial experience where the senses and sense are overwhelmed. The lantern scene effectively did that for me and I admire its manipulative construction. This is very much an adult movie and very overtly sexual. The source images are in a space created by a sexually manipulative woman, managing a hidden fecund valley in which an overtly phallic tower houses our future stories.

So it is extremely easy for me to see this as a story about animation, folding and sex. Pure in each regard. It is not about love. It is about drawing love, and much more romantic as a result.

Posted in 2010

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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