On November 24th, 2010 Walt Disney Pictures will be releasing its 50th animated feature film. The latest release, Tangled, is based on the German fairy tale Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm.
Once upon a time, a king and queen found that they were expecting a child. Unfortunately, the queen grew very ill during her pregnancy, leaving the life of her unborn child and herself in the balance. Desperate, a servant ventures to steal a magical healing plant from the garden of an evil witch named Gothel who used it to frequently rejeuvenate herself in order to avoid death. This restored the queen to her former health and gives the baby princess, Rapunzel, healing powers. As revenge for having her plant stolen, and still coveting its power, Gothel kidnaps Rapunzel to retake the youth-restoring power for herself. Rapunzel grows up locked in a tower, with only the nasty Mother Gothel for company. The witch constantly puts her down and forbids her from ever leaving the tower. Every year on Rapunzel’s birthday, the kingdom has a festival of lights in remembrance of their lost princess. Rapunzel sees the lights from her window and longs to visit the kingdom. One day, a thief named Flynn Rider breaks into her tower. Rapunzel takes his satchel containing the stolen crown jewels. She promises to return it if he will help her out of the tower and take her to the light festival, and Flynn agrees. They escape along with Rapunzel’s pet chameleon Pascal, and Maximus, a horse who takes it upon himself to capture Flynn and return him to the royal guards. Together with a band of colorful brigands, Rapunzel and Flynn must avoid the guards and a vengeful Mother Gothel to reach the kingdom in time for the festival.
Every few years Disney cranks out another entertaining blockbuster animated feature that teaches a whole new generation of young girls their proper role in the patriarchy.
True, they have gotten somewhat more enlightened since a very passive Snow White sang “Someday My Prince Will Come,” but Disney heroines are always impossibly beautiful, heterosexual and virginal until they meet a man, then they fall instantly in love and are soon happily married and monogamous ever after.
That’s why they call them fairy tales.