Thursday, March 03, 2011


There was a time when we would watch new releases in grainy, pirated VCDs. DVDs were expensive, and new films won’t come to the market well before six months of their release. Some of these movies were not even released in theatres. So, the VCDs were only option, even if the picture quality was way too poor.

Things changed dramatically over the next few years. First, DVDs become cheaper, easily available. Then came the high-speed internet and that unending source of entertainment called torrent. What may be the quality of the film, the picture quality of these pictures started to look pristine. Even HD videos are a passé these days; blu-ray is the blue-eyed format.

Therefore, it was an experience to watch Tangled, Disney’s latest retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale, in a pirated, grainy print. What saved the day was the fact that it was an animated film. It was like seeing an animation film done in water colour, where the edges of the moving characters are blurred, and everything appears dark and smoky. I did not have much to complain.

As a fairy tale, I don’t care much about Rapunzel. However, she indeed deserved as picture of her own after the Pixar film Sherk the Third relegated her to a sidekick to the evil Prince Charming, and also alleged that her fabled long hair was just a wig.

Compared to the cockiness of the Sherk films, Tangled is indeed sweet, in a classical Disney way. There is nothing that you haven’t seen before, but the screenplay, that moves at a breakneck speed, does wonder in maintaining the suspense till the last moment. Add to that Mandy Moore’s marvellous voice performance!

As we know, after the evil witch learns that the new-born princess’s golden hair has magical properties that can keep her forever young, she steals the baby, and brings her up as her daughter in a tower away from human contact. (The film gives us a new back story why and how Rapunzel’s hair is magical.) At the tower Rapunzel lives with her pet lizard Pascal, and her pain brushes. She paints the picture of the hundred floating lanterns she sees from the window of her tower on the night of her birthday. She grows quite obsessed with these lanterns, and wants to see them in person at the place of their origin on her 18th birthday (which she finally does in a brilliantly drawn sequence, which is worth the price of the film). But her ‘mother’ won’t hear about it. As she resigns in despair, comes along the mandatory prince charming, only that he is no prince charming, but a petty thief. You know what happens next. Now, it’s not exactly like the fairy tale, and that’s why it’s more fun, isn’t it?

But the journey Rapunzel embarks upon is fun and worth the ride. What I liked most about the film is that here the animals don’t talk; they are cute, Pascal and a very righteous, crime-fighting horse called Maximus, they make faces and they are concerned about the plight of the human protagonists, but they don’t talk. Thanks God for that.

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