In many ways, "Tangled" is a return-to-the-1990s for Walt
Disney Animation Studios. In that this film is a feature-length fairy tale that
features a score by Academy Award-winner Alan Menken as well as animation
supervised by the great Glen Keane (i.e. the industry legend behind Ariel in "The Little Mermaid," the Beast in "Beauty and the Beast" as well as the title
character in "Aladdin").
While at the same time, this new cinematic version of Rapunzel
couldn't be more different from all the Disney fairy tales that preceded it.
Given that "Tangled" is being done in CG and Disney Digital 3D. And did I
mention that the decade during which this animated feature was in development was
a time of extreme upheaval at The Walt Disney Company?
Byron Howard (left) and Nathan Greno, co-directors of Disney's "Tangled." Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
So given that "Tangled" was a product of both Disney's past
& future, how did Nathan Greno and Byron Howard (i.e. the co-directors of
this upcoming WDAS release) decide which was the proper way to go with this
particular production? V-e-r-y carefully.
At Thursday's "Walt Disney Animation Studios: Character
Creation!" panel at Comic-Con as well as in follow-up interviews that they did
onsite at the San Diego convention center, Greno and Howard talked about the deliberate
& thoughtful approach they took towards "Tangled." How they'd sometimes
borrow creative concepts from "The Little Mermaid" (i.e. how, just like with
Ariel, Rapunzel is supposed to be the girl next door) as well as production
techniques from "Aladdin" (i.e. just as they did back on that 1992 Walt Disney Pictures release, "Tangled"
directors consulted all the females working at WDAS about which facial features
they liked best on what actors. So that they could then combine all of these
elements to make Rapunzel's love interest - the notorious thief Flynn Rider -
as attractive as possible to today's audiences).
Copyright 2010 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
But Nathan & Byron were keenly aware that times (more
importantly, audience's tastes when it came to entertainment) had changed significantly
since the 1990s. Which is why it just wouldn't do to have Rapunzel rescued from
her tower by some handsome prince. Which
is why they opted to go with Flynn Rider instead. Hoping that - by pairing a
handsome rogue with the extremely-long-haired girl-next-door, street smarts
versus book smarts - Greno and Howard might then be able to put an interesting new
spin on this classic fairy tale.
Of course, you can't tell the story of Rapunzel without
making this character's hair a huge element of your story. And given that - at least
when it comes to CG films - animators tend to shy away from hair because of all
the technical issues involved ... To suddenly be saddled with a character that's
sometimes hauling around 70 feet of hair was a huge challenge for the team at
Walt Disney Animation Studios.
But Nathan & Bryon embraced this challenge. They made
Rapunzel's extremely long locks one of the more magical elements of this motion
picture. Which is how her hair became something that Rapunzel would wield like
a whip in one scene and then ride on like a swing in the next.
Which is admittedly a lot of fun. But Greno & Howard
also knew that - if today's audiences were really going to embrace "Tangled" - they
had to get past Rapunzel's long hair and the tower that she was trapped in and
turn Flynn & Rapunzel into characters that today's audiences could empathize
with and ultimately grow to care about.
Glen Keane at the 2009 Comic-Con International. Photo by Nancy Stadler
Meanwhile, from Glen Keane's side of the fence ... Well,
working with character creator Jin Kim, Glen kept pushing to make sure that "Tangled"
had some connective tissue with all the Disney fairy tales that had preceded
it. That this cinematic retelling of the tale of Rapunzel (just as "Snow White"
& "Cinderella" and - later -- "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty & the Beast"
and "Aladdin" did) had the same sorts of "golden poses" that Disney's Nine
Old Men had labored to create. Those beautifully staged pieces of animation
where character & story come together in such a special way that they kind
of melt your heart.
Mind you, when it came to "Tangled," inspiration would often
arrived in interesting ways. Take - for example - when Disney Consumer Products
came through the Sorcerer Mickey building to show off a doll that they'd
fashioned to look just like Rapunzel as a toddler. Though this version of the
character initially only appeared in the
film for a brief moment, Glen Keane was so taken with the winsome look of this "Tangled"
doll that he kept one of them in his office at WDAS for inspiration. Which is
why - over time - the toddler-version-of-Rapunzel got more & more screen time
in "Tangled." And - as a direct result - audiences then became that much more
empathetic & sympathetic about Rapunzel's predicament far earlier in this
Photo by Nancy StadlerAcademy Award-winner Alan Menken. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Mind you, another way that Disney typically gets the
audience on the heroine's side is through her "I Want" song. And in "Tangled,"
Rapunzel has one doozey of a "I Want" song in "When Will My Life Begin?" Which is
supplied - of course - by Alan Menken.
Now, when they talked about Menken's work for "Tangled" last
week, Nathan & Byron were quick to point that - while the songs that Alan created
for this film are similar in quality to the tunes that he'd written for "Mermaid,"
"Beast" and "Aladdin" - Menken labored mightily to make sure that the music
that he'd created for Disney's cinematic take of Rapunzel was something fresh,
Academy Award-winner Alan Menken. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
So - in the end - what you've got with "Tangled" really is
something that really does take the virtues of the past (where superior
storytelling and good draftsmanship came together to created those timeless animated
features that have been entertaining audiences for decades now) and then mixes
them together with WDAS' ambitions for the future (where the combination of CG
and Disney Digital 3D results in this new fairy tale film where the magic seems
to spill off screen and then out into the audience).
But when you get right down to it, what makes the very best Disney
fairy tales work is the characters. Which is why Greno & Howard made sure
that the interaction between the very worldly Flynn Rider (who - up until now -
has been able to charm his way / talk his way out of every difficult situation)
and the good-hearted-if-somewhat-sheltered Rapunzel was always smart and funny.
So that moviegoers would then be rooting for this rather odd couple to
ultimately come together
Which is why - come November 24th - audiences are
in for a real treat when "Tangled" finally opens in theaters. Thanks -- in
large part -- to Nathan Greno & Byron Howard's new-style storytelling as
well as Glen Keane & Jin Kim's old-school drawing style.
RE:PATF,,, I think it also suffered from the Chipmunks sequel which had nostalgia and a clear "his and hers" element by bringing in the Chipettes. It simply had more of the elements advertised to bring in the whole family;
i cant wait till i get the tangled doll but im a little caught up in the tonner dolls for alice in wonderland sorry disney and i know im dissing my website so im soory and im also ganna watch tangled with my kids kassandra and whyit.
sorry in my last comment there was a typo
Looks horrible ... pass