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Check out Disney's pre- "Tangled" versions of Rapunzel

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Check out Disney's pre- "Tangled" versions of Rapunzel

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Sometime today, Disney's "Tangled" will blow through the $100-million-in-domestic-ticket-sales threshold. Which is the fastest that a Walt Disney Animation Studios release has reached this particular milestone since "The Lion King" back in 1994.

So -- in honor of this auspicious occasion - I thought it might be fun to take a look at the Walt Disney Company's earlier versions of "Rapunzel." To be specific, the 1969 Disneyland Record ...


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... the 1971 Disneyland Record and Book...


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... as well as the 1998 Little Golden Book.


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To be honest, the 1969 LP -- "Walt Disney presents Little Red Riding Hood and Other Best Loved Fairy Tales" -- lumps Rapunzel in with (obviously) Red Riding Hood, Rumplestiltskin, the Princess & the Pea and the Bremen Town Musicians.

Unfortunately, this album only features a single image of what Disney artists thought Rapunzel might have looked like...


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.. . whereas "The Story of Rapunzel" (with its 33 1/3 long playing record and 24 page book) will give you a sense of what "Tangled" might have been like if WDAS's story development team had been far more faithful to the original Grimm Fairy Tale.

Where - instead of being the daughter of royalty who stolen away by Mother Gothel - Rapunzel was actually the daughter of commoners. And Rapunzel's father runs afoul of the witch who lives next door...


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... because he sneaks into the witch's garden one night and attempts to steal some vegetables for his large-with-child, very-hungry wife. The witch catches Rapunzel's father in the act and then agrees to let the man go IF - once their baby is born - he & his wife immediately surrender their child to her.


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Now what's kind of intriguing about this early Disney version of "Rapunzel" is that the witch doesn't actually lock her away in a tower until Rapunzel is 12 (Which - now that I'm the father of a teenage girl - I'm beginning to see the wisdom of the witch's ways).


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Anyway ... Because she's a Disney Princess, Rapunzel sings. Which is how the unnamed prince discovers her in her tower. More to the point, by observing the witch climbing into Rapunzel's tower ...


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... the prince figures out how to gain access to this long-haired beauty.

Mind you, what the prince hadn't counted on was that the witch would eventually get wind of his visits with Rapunzel.


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To escape the witch's clutches, the prince lets go of Rapunzel's hair. And because he lands face down in the thorns that surround this tower, the prince winds up blinded.


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Which - I know - is kind of a downer, especially for a Disney-published story. But the upside is ... The prince doesn't stay blind forever. When he and Rapunzel are finally reunited several years later, she runs to his side and weeps.


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And when two of Rapunzel's tears land in the Prince's eyes, he's then able to see again. And given that he's now able to find his way, the prince now leads Rapunzel back to his own kingdom. Where these two marry and then live happily ever after.

Now where this gets interesting is - in 1998 - Disney Publishing revisited "Rapunzel." Only this time, this Grimm fairy tale was re-envisioned as a Disney's Fairy Tale Theater production with Minnie playing the title character.


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And to be honest, this Little Golden Book is kind of a kick for Disney fans. Given that classic characters like Donald Duck and Clarabelle Cow have been cast as Rapunzel's father and the witch.


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Anyway, this 24 page book is a somewhat faithful adaptation of the original Grimm fairy tale. In that the prince learns how to gain access to the tower by watching the witch climb up Rapunzel's hair ...


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... not to mention the prince tumbling down the side of the tower once the witch learns that he's been dallying in with Rapunzel.


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But given that this is Mickey-and-Minnie version of Rapunzel ... Well, the prince doesn't wind up blinded.

As the book explains, after both the prince and Rapunzel fall out of the tower ...

... to the couple's good fortune, some flowering bushes grew thickly at the base of the tower. Their fall was cushioned by branches and flowers.


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Now where this gets interesting is - according to comments that Glen Keane made earlier this year during the lead-up to "Tangled" 's theatrical release - Walt Disney Animation Studios first began development of a feature length version of "Rapunzel" back in 1996. And Keane actually put in a couple of months on this project before he then left for Paris to go work on "Tarzan."

So you gotta wonder - given that the Studio had already put Mickey-based projects like 1990's "The Prince & The Pauper" and 2004's "The Three Musketeers" in production ...


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... as well as actively exploring the idea of doing other Mickey-based featurettes like "The Story of Christopher Columbus," "Mickey's Arabian Adventure" and "Swabbies" ...


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... You have to wonder if the Studio actually ever gave any semi-serious thought to developing a version of "Rapunzel" that would have starred Mickey & Minnie.

So what do you folks think? Would you have preferred that Disney do a far more faithful film adaptation of "Rapunzel" ? Or are you perfectl happy with the way that "Tangled" eventually turned out?

Your thoughts?


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  • It's an interesting bit of history, that's for sure... although I don't know if I can accept Minnie as a blonde. Thanks for digging all of this up!

  • I think Disney did all right with Tangled. They don't need to do another adaptation of Rapunzel. Tangled is a lot funnier than the adaptation.

  • I love these old visions. Part nostalgia, part cultural curiosity. Thanks for Sharing Jim!

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