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Tangled: A Psychoanalytic Analysis
Transcript of Tangled: A Psychoanalytic Analysis
Accorded to Rutgers University, psychoanalytic theory was "developed in order to alleviate human suffering, psychoanalysis finds the root cause of that suffering to be the very same desires which are the root and branch of both individual and social life, even in its noblest (and seemingly transcendent) manifestations." Approaches to psychoanalytic literary theory also "have one thing in common—the critics begin with a full psychological theory of how and why people behave as they do," according to the College of New Rochelle.
According to Princeton University, "Psychoanalytic literary criticism refers to literary criticism which, in method, concept, theory, or form, is influenced by the tradition of psychoanalysis begun by Sigmund Freud." Michael Delahoyde of Washington State University wrote that psychoanalytic criticism, "argues that literary texts, like dreams, express the secret unconscious desires and anxieties of the author, that a literary work is a manifestation of the author's own neuroses." Purdue's Online Writing Lab combines Freudian theory with Jungian theory as psychoanalytic criticisms. For the purpose of this presentation, 'psychoanalytic' will refer to mainly Freudian theory and criticism.
typical questions asked of literature
What repressed material is expressed in imagery or symbols?
How do the operations of repression structure or inform the work?
Are there any oedipal dynamics - or any other family dynamics - are work here?
How can characters' behavior, narrative events, and/or images be explained in terms of psychoanalytic concepts of any kind (for example...fear or fascination with death, sexuality - which includes love and romance as well as sexual behavior - as a primary indicator of psychological identity or the operations of ego-id-superego)?
What does the work suggest about the psychological being of its author?
What might a given interpretation of a literary work suggest about the psychological motives of the reader?
Are there prominent words in the piece that could have different or hidden meanings? Could there be a subconscious reason for the author using these "problem words"?
Freudian analysis adjusted for film
What does the audience response tell us about the audience?
What do responses to the film tell us about the responder?
What actions show the characters' inner psychoanalytic character?
What family/oedipal dynamics arise in certain characters?
What fascinations are present in the characters?
What do all these things tell us about the characters and their past?
What inner motivation did the creators have for the piece?
What does the final product tell us about the main creators and their inner workings?
What symbols are present in the work?
What do they tell us about the creators/characters/audience?
A Tangled History
Tangled, like most movies started out at a money making ploy for Walt Disney Studios. The idea for a film based on the story of Rapunzel had been around for close to 50 years.
After the box office disappointment of The Princess and the Frog, it was determined that the upcoming Rapunzel movie would steer clear of the "classic" Disney 2-D animation and story. Instead, it would be more modern and 3-D animated.
What's in a Name?
The original title of Tangled was Rapunzel: Unbraided. Due to the concern of lead animator Glenn Keane (a superstar in the animation world), the 'Unbraided" was dropped.
Although the film now had a traditional title (Rapunzel), lead animator/director Glenn Keane was still concerned about the 3-D animation. He pushed for a method of 3-D animation that would have the traditional look of a 2-D fairytale.
Disney was heavily criticized for changed the title of the film from Rapunzel to Tangled. It seemed like a desperate marketing move to get boys interested in the film. One critic claimed it was like changing "The Little Mermaid" to "Beached." Disney responded by saying the movie wasn't just about Rapunzel, it was about Flynn Rider and Rapunzel and their journey together.
Creators and Motivation
"Tangled" was made to make money for the Disney Company, but at the same time was meant to tell a beautiful story.
Through the animation and story, the creator's motives are present.
1. Make Money
2. Make a film worthy of being Disney's 50th animated feature
3. Make an entertaining and beautiful film
4. Entertain girls AND boys
5. Satisfy the "Anti-Disney" and "Anti-Princess" people
6. Make money
The inner desires of many of the creators of Tangled was to become their childhood fantasy. Many of these people grew up obsessed with Disney and the animation of the classic films. When given the chance to make a "classic" film with a "classic" story, the creator's fantasies were realized, but they were quickly modified to make a blockbuster film.
Inner fantasies realized, then forcibly revised
The Sun/Kingdom Symbol
A Princess with a crown and a prince
A thief, horse, and frying pan wielding princess. (No crown present!)
Rapunzel's hair symbolizes her attachment to Gothel. Gothel relies on Rapunzel's hair to be beautiful and young forever. At the beginning of the film, Rapunzel's hair is free. She only brushes it out. As she leaves the tower and explores the world, her hair becomes a burden. It's hard to run, jump and explore with 70 feet of hair1 She no longer needs Gothel; Flynn is her protector.
When Rapunzel and Flynn reach the village, four little girls braid Rapunzel's hair so it is no longer in her way. At this point in the film, Rapunzel is now out in the real world, the place she always dreamed of exploring. She is comfortable and excited to interact with the people Gothel warned her were "evil."
At the climax of the story, Rapunzel is saved from Gothel by Flynn cutting off her long, golden locks. At last, Rapunzel is free of Gothel and her restraints on Rapunzel.
The tower represents safety for Rapunzel. Gothel drilled into Rapunzel that her tower was the only safe place in the world. It is a big moment when Rapunzel leaves the tower for the first time. It symbolizes her needs to explore, and as a teenager, to defy her mother. At the end of the story, Rapunzel is brought back to the tower, the familiar, safe place. After experiencing the wonders of the outside world, the tower symbolizes all the lies Rapunzel was told as a child by Gothel.
The audience's reaction to Rapunzel's hair being cut is often a gasp of shock. For the audience, Rapunzel's hair is her identity. This shows how much we as people care about looks and power, even if it involves having 70 feet of healing hair. Cutting off the long hair symbolizes Rapunzel's new identity and life.
Rapunzel's dream is to see the floating lights. For her parents, the lanterns are a symbol that their lost daughter will return. For Rapunzel, they're a symbol of the mystery of the outside world. When she finally sees the floating lights, she doesn't know where to go next. They were her obsession for her entire childhood.
Rapunzel first wields her famous frying pan when Flynn Rider stumbles into her tower. She uses it to defend against the "dangers" that Gothel warned her about. When Rapunzel begins to trust Flynn, she abandons her frying pan; she no longer needs to be afraid of the outside world. As Rapunzel and Flynn grow closer, he begins to use a frying pan as a weapon, just like Rapunzel. In Tangled, a frying pan represents both kick-butt female strength and Rapunzel's relationship with Flynn.
The crown first symbolizes Rapunzel's royalty status, even though she isn't aware of it. For Flynn, the crown represents greed; it's the reason he agrees to take Rapunzel to the lights. As the story progresses, the crown begins to symbolize trust. Gothel gives it to Rapunzel to test her trust in Flynn. Rapunzel is tricked into thinking that Flynn abandoned her for the crown, and her trust is destroyed.
This symbol is present through the whole film. First, it represents the magical flower that gave Rapunzel her healing hair. As the story progresses, it represents the outside world- the kingdom. In one scene, Rapunzel even draws it in chalk in the middle of town. At that point, she loves the outside world.
Character Analysis: Rapunzel
Rapunzel's obsession is centralized in the "floating lights" she sees each year on her birthday. For her, they represent the outside the world and the mystery of what is outside her tower. When given the opportunity, she drops everything and puts her everything into seeing the "floating lights" This obsession reveals Rapunzel's inner, secret desires: to find a purpose and to rebel against her mother.
Rapunzel starts out as naive. At the beginning of the story, she believes everything Gothel tells her. When she meets Flynn, she, again, believes pretty much everything he tells her. Her obsession with the "floating lights" shows this naivety- it takes her most of the story to connect the dots that she is the lost princess. The other symbols that surround Rapunzel represent her journey, from naivety to wisdom. She realizes what is important to her as a person is just as important as what others view as valuable.
As a child, Rapunzel is constantly put down by Gothel. As she explores the world, it takes her a while to become comfortable with herself instead of being self conscious.
Character Analysis: Flynn Rider
Flynn was an orphan as a child, and made up stories about a swashbuckling thief for the other children. As he grew older, he tried to personify his childhood hero. This led him to thievery.
As an orphan, Flynn didn't have the average family. He grew up only looking up to his fictional hero as his only example.
Flynn's inner desire to be his childhood hero affects all his decisions. His secret desire is to be accepted as a hero, rather than an orphan. Flynn spends his whole life trying to shake off his past. He becomes a thief, and hides his true identity through sarcasm. This reveals his inner self consciousness about himself and his past. As he falls for Rapunzel, they both learn the same lesson: no matter where you come from, what you've been through, or what you know, there is always something or someone out there to explore and learn from.
Character Analysis: Gothel
Gothel is obsessed with being young and beautiful to the point of kidnapping a princess. She constantly puts Rapunzel down in order to feel more beautiful herself.
Gothel acts as a mother to Rapunzel, but constantly is telling her lies about herself and the outside. world. This treatment all stems from Gothel's inner self consciousness.
Gothel, on the outside is vain, but on the inside, she is self conscious about her beauty. Her actions all stem from her obsession with being the most beautiful person she can possibly be.
Rapunzel: [circling Flynn tied to a chair with her hair] So, what do you want with my hair? To cut it?
Flynn Rider: What?
Rapunzel: Sell it?
Flynn Rider: No! Listen, the only thing I want to do with your hair is to get out of it... lit-er-a-lly!
Rapunzel: [singing] Flower gleam and glow. Let your powers shine. Make the clock reverse. Bring back what once was mine. Heal what has been hurt. Change the fates' design. Save what has been lost. Bring back what once was mine, What once was mine...
"Promise me you'll never ask to leave this tower again".- Mother Gothel
Rapunzel knows best
Fine, if you're so sure now
Go ahead, then give him this
This is why he's here!
Don't let him deceive you!
Give it to him, watch, you'll see!
Trust me, my dear
That's how fast he'll leave you
I won't say I told you so - no
Rapunzel knows best!
So if he's such a dreamboat
Go and put him to the test
If he's lying
Don't come crying
Mother knows best...- Mother Gothel
Rapunzel: I've been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it's not everything I dreamed it would be?
Flynn Rider: It will be.
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then?
Flynn Rider: Well,that's the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream.
"Frying pans. Who knew?" - Flynn Rider
Mother Gothel: [singing] Mother knows best./Take it from your mumsy./On your own you won't survive./Sloppy, underdressed,/Immature, clumsy,/Please!/They'll eat you up alive!
Rapunzel: You were wrong about the world. And you were wrong about me!
Rapunzel: Something brought you here, Flynn Rider. Call it what you will... fate... destiny...
Flynn Rider: A horse.
Flynn Rider: Did I ever tell you I got a thing for brunettes?
"I'm just teasing"
Gothel: I love you.
Rapunzel: I love you more.
Gothel: (To Rapunzel's head/hair) I love you most.
Tangled varies from most Disney tales because its characters have depth and inner desires. Its use of symbolism adds to the audience subconscious understanding of the plot and characters.By having rich characters, the audience becomes invested in the story, which leads to a good film.