Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tangled Trailer

Well, we finally have our first look at Disney's latest animated epic, Tangled. And, like a lot of Disney animated films these days, it's had a long and dramatic journey to finally get to the big screen.

We have to go back in time around 10 years or so. Disney was starting to wind down on their traditionally animated films and starting to gear up on computer animated films. And while some impressive computer animation was being done, none of it really sat too well with veteran Disney animator Glen Keane. As amazing as the computer animation was, there were still some things that you could do in traditional animation that you could not do in computer animation. So, Keane became a man on a mission. He wanted to push computer animation to the point where it could do those things that traditional animation could do. Keane wanted to make computers as "pliable as the pencil," and have a film that looked like a "three-dimensional drawing."

Since fairy tale adaptations have always been the bread and butter of Disney's animated pantheon, Keane chose to adapt Rapunzel. Disney had been toying with the idea of doing it for some time, so why not?

However, the plot of the film underwent many, many revisions. Thanks to the popularity of Shrek, it seems as though you can't have a straight fairy tale adaptation any more...they have to be sarcastic, self-referential, and self-parodying. Hence, the first pass was called Rapunzel Unbraided, and was going to follow the misadventures of two cynical teenagers who are forced to reenact the tale of Rapunzel when they anger an old witch. Man, that title and premise just scream Shrek ripoff.

Here's how long this film has been in development...that picture is some old Rapunzel Unbraided concept art I downloaded back in 2004.

A few more revisions, and the plot was going to be a more conventional retelling of the Rapunzel, with a few more modern touches.

And Keane, he wasn't letting up. He wanted the film to have a lush, vibrant look. He said he wanted to the film's visual style to be based on the classic painting The Swing, and rumor has it the painting was converted into computer animation as a test.

However, all of this pushing began to take its toll. Keane had to step down from the project in 2008, citing "non-life-threatening health issues." I'm sorry, but putting "non-life-threatening" in front of "health issues" doesn't make it sound any less scary. The directors now are Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, with Keane still on board as an executive producer.

And along with the directorial change came some casting changes. It was originally announced that Kristen Chenowith would be voicing Rapunzel, but when the new directors came on board, Chenowith was replaced with actress/pop star Mandy Moore. I was kind of disappointed by that...I found Chenowith to be incredibly adorable on Pushing Daisies, playing lovelorn waitress Olive Snook.

And, of course, silly studio politics came into play as well. Earlier this year, the Disney beancounters insisted that the film's name be changed from Rapunzel to Tangled. Why is this? Well, Disney's last animated film, The Princess and the Frog, actually underperformed at the box office. The beancounters figure that this was because the film's advertising emphasized princesses too much, thus making little boys not want to see. So, they changed the title to Tangled to downplay the whole princess thing and maybe more boys will go see it. I tell ya, demographics will get you every time.

So, will this long, 10-year journey to the big screen finally be worth it? We'll know when it hits theatres this November.

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