Thursday, 1 September 2016

Rapunzel: Grimm vs Disney

Made by Manual D'Andrea
Anyone who knows me, knows how deeply I love the movie Tangled. It is my go to movie whenever I am ill, sad, happy or when it's just a normal day. I love Rapunzel's happiness and her will to find what she is looking for. No matter what others think of her. In their eyes she's naive and stupid, but they fail to see how her innocence and kindness make her live rather than survive, even if it brings her in harms way from time to time. I think a lot of us have seen the film or know the story from when they walked through the Efteling as kids (or you know, as grown-ups like me)(if not, spoiler alert). But how much was it changed to suit the twenty-first century children? We all know Disney over-romanticises everything. It all ends with a happy ending and only the bad guys get hurt (badly or beyond repair). 

In Tangled we travel with Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder (a criminal)  to see the floating lights, her dream since she was a little girl. It is only after she returns to her tower that she realises who she really is and that she was taken as a baby by mother Gothel, a woman who kept herself young with a special flower. A flower that was used to cure the queen right before Rapunzel was born, transferring it's gift into Rapunzel. Mother Gothel used and kept Rapunzel in order to stay young and beautiful. After realising all this, Rapunzel manages to escape with Flynn and she returns to her parents and everyone lives happily ever after (seriously, there's even a short to stress how happily ever after they are actually living). The evil witch falls to her doom, Eugene/Flynn is brought back to life and all is right in the world. What really speaks to me is that even after Rapunzel realises who her 'mother' really is, she reaches out for her right before she falls to her doom.

The Grimm version is obviously a little  different. Like most fairy tales, it's rather short (only 5 pages in my version of the Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm). In this story it is not the enchantress (or witch) who is greedily looking for something, but the wife (not king and queen in the slightest). She desperately wants to eat some of their neighbours rampion (or rapunzel) and so her husband steals some for her. However, when he sets out to do so a second time he is caught in the act by the enchantress to whom he goes on to promise their first born child in return for as much rampion as he wants.

And so it happens, a girl is born, the enchantress calls her Rapunzel and takes her away. The girl grew up to be a beautiful thing, so the enchantress locked her into a tower when she turned twelve. With only a window through which she could enter if Rapunzel, you guessed it, let down her hair. Two years later, the prince hears Rapunzel sing as he travels through the forest. He is so enchanted by it that he comes back everyday to hear her sing. One day he sees the enchantress call out to Rapunzel, after which she lets down her hair and goes on to trick Rapunzel to do the same for him. They agree to get married and think of a plan to get Rapunzel out of the tower (let's keep in mind that she is only 14 years old at this point, she's 18 in Tangled). However, Rapunzel cannot keep her mouth shut and asks mother Gothel (also known as the enchantress) why she is so heavy compared to the prince.

Gothel angrily cuts Rapunzel's hair and sends her to a desert where she "had to live in great grief and misery". The old woman uses Rapunzel's hair to trick the prince, after which he jumps out of the window and is blinded by the thorns into which he fell. He roams through the forest for a few years, quite lost without Rapunzel. Until he hears her voice and finds her in the desert with a boy and a girl (twins, because somewhere along the story they apparently had sex).  She cries two tears, which heal the prince's eyes and together they return to the kingdom where they "lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented". Mother Gothel and Rapunzel's parents are never mentioned again.

As you can see, the two are quite different. Where Disney does not even show blood, the Grimm version does not stay away from the idea of physical harm. In Tangled we don't even see a body after mother Gothel falls out of the tower, and in this version we read how the prince is blinded because he fell onto thorns. However, they both have a rather happy ending. I plan on doing this with a few other Brothers Grimm (and maybe Hans Christian Anderson) fairy tales. I hope you liked it.


  1. This is a really cool idea! I haven't read many of the Grimm fairy tales but I did know that in general, they're pretty gruesome. Tangled is actually one of my favorite Disney movies :) I look forward to the other posts in this series! I'll have to read the rest of the Grimm fariytales soon!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. Yeah I have the same which is why I decided to do this. It's a lot of fun actually. I plan on doing a fairy tale on every Thursday, so there will definitely be a lot of other posts about it :) Happy you liked it!