I don’t normally write reviews on movies, preferring not to over analyse why I do or don’t like something, but this being Disney’s 50th animated film and their 10th Disney Princess I wished to share my opinions.
Warning: Here be spoilers.
Now while I could talk about all the tiny things I noticed that would normally be commented on, like the ending being somewhat similar to Beauty and the Beast, or how funny yet moving some scenes were. I don’t actually want to review this movie.
What I wish to do is talk about the whole Disney princess aspect.
Needless to say, with the relative failing of last years Disney Princess in The Princess and the Frog my main concern was that this years, our reinvented Rapunzel, would not be relevant and as important as the others had been in reflecting the social status of women in their times and the recently changing way they define their roles in society.
While Disney did not do an amazing job of making Rapunzel as socially important as say Mulan or Belle were at their points in time, they did make one point I loved, even though I’m not convinced it was intentional.
Basically Rapunzel was kept in her tower by the woman masquerading to be her mother. She was manipulated into thinking that her mother knew best on the outside world and because Rapunzel was special and talented/had a gift she has to stay away from the outside world. Her mother told her it was because the world was dangerous and it was better for her to be safe in her tower.
Before you get too ahead of yourself I am not trying to say people are too health and safety conscious and parents worry too much (though it is perhaps a valid point the film possibly makes), I actually felt that Rapunzel was being told her gifts and abilities were too good for the outside world and attracted danger and risk if she used them. That she should do something ‘safer’ instead; in this case stay at home with mum.
Our western culture has become very concerned about our security and making sure we are in good safe jobs and careers and have a nice house, small mortgage, to the point that I think people are forgetting that sometimes you need to take a risk and try something different to really achieve things in life.
This is a lesson even the film industry needs to learn as they prefer to make safe films that are remakes of old popular films or have plenty of merchandising to help counter any losses the film itself might make.
The area where I feel this is having the most detrimental effect, however, is in creative people. I work with a lot of different artists, most of which are still trying to work out how they can earn enough money from their particular type of creativity. They range from writers, actors, and artists to musicians. Almost all of them talk to me about conversations they have had with their family (mostly parents) and occasionally friends where they have been encouraged and sometimes told to go get a ‘proper’ job in a different career. With the hope that this will lead to a steady income, a house, a spouse and anything else the teller thinks constitutes a successful life.
It doesn’t seem to occur to the advisor that the person they are telling this to may actually be happier taking a risk. This could mean potentially only earning peanuts for the rest of their lives but getting to do something they enjoy for that low wage. As opposed to a dull 9 till 5 desk job that gives them no sense of satisfaction or achievement, even though they are paid twice as much (or potentially even more).
Let’s face it, what would you rather have when you are old and infirm and sitting in a nursing home? Would you rather have happy memories of all the fun things you did your life or a whole load of money and nothing you can really spend it on? What do you think is going to be easier to get up for in the morning 20 years from now? A job you are passionate about most days or that same desk job you are doing only because it pays for 5 weeks of nice holidays per year?
So next time someone tells you they don’t have a career per se, or that they are doing their art for money and still haven’t quite ‘made it’ yet. Rather than making them feel inadequate or unsuccessful, maybe think for a moment that actually they may be more right than wrong. They are going to quite possibly lead a happier more fulfilling life being true to themselves, than a person who spends their entire life trying to have the best paid career to retire at 65 still slightly unhappy. They may even have the potential to leave a legacy of inspiration and happiness to future generations.
This is why I liked Tangled, because the new Disney Princess was once more relevant and suggested that it is much more important to be true to yourself and take risks than it was to be safe and bored. After all, if you want to learn to fly, you have to jump off a cliff.