Monday, December 16, 2013

It Takes Two to Tangle

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Little Man's new favorite movie is Tangled, the Disney adaptation of the Rapunzel fairy tale. He likes the chameleon, Maximus the horse, the action, and the music. He's too young yet to appreciate the subtle humor, the love story, the tragic loss, or the allusions to other pieces of classic literature and jokes. I'm not usually one to like the revisionist versions of classic fairy tales that Disney puts out since they tend to dilute the stories or change them so that their original moral value is all but missing. But this one doesn't bother me as much as others. I actually like this movie.

While we were watching it today for the third time in a row, I discovered that I have a soft spot for Mother Gothel. She is supposed to be the villain in this tale, but I find that she is more of a tragic character that villainous. And she reminds me of Cher in Moonstruck. See?

Image from
Image from

Anyway, I read on someone's blog, well, several different blogs actually, that the antagonist/villain is the hero in their story. I watched the movie from the point-of-view from Mother Gothel. She is an old woman who discovers the magical flower from the sun that restores her youth. The flower is harvested to save the queen but now Gothel will surely die of old age. When the queen delivers a baby daughter with the healing, glowing hair, Gothel visits the babe to take only a lock of her hair in hopes of restoring her youth. The hair doesn't work once it is cut so Gothel then takes Rapunzel with her. It isn't until Rapunzel's eighteenth birthday does our action begin.
Yes, Gothel snatched a baby away from her parents. Yes she kept her locked in a tower. Yes her motivation was selfish. But what really happened? She didn't harm the baby. She fed the child, clothed the child, taught her to talk, walk, read, write. Gothel would even travel for days to bring back the special paints Rapunzel liked. She made Rapunzel feel loved and safe. In the end, she meets her demise - a justified one because she does turn to manipulation and murder - but all she wanted to do was to stay young.

 Her story started me thinking once again about the revisions I've put off for far too long and what is the story of my antagonist? How can I make that more compelling? How can I make my antagonist more sympathetic? (It was very well done in the movie Falling Down) How can I get my antagonist's story and my hero's story to be more intertwined, more tangled? It's time to get back to writing.

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