Comparing Rapunzel Adaptations: Split Ends

Yesterday, I compared two Rapunzel adaptations, talking about the elements they shared with the story and each other (or in some cases, just with each other). But the most important part of differentiation is differences, so I’m going to look at some of the major ones between the two stories. There may be spoilers; read at your own risk.

The first, of course, is milieu and approach. Tangled takes place in Standard European Fantasyland with the castles and the pretty horses and the generic thugs with mildly grubby armor and the occasional substitute for a limb. Rapunzel’s Revenge, on the other hand, takes the whole thing and chucks it into a pseudo-Old-West, dialect and all, where half the region’s a wasteland because of Gothel’s magic, and where there’s occasional bleed from other stories (one of the other named characters is a refugee from another fairy tale, let’s put it that way). Similarly, while Tangled plays the old plot pretty straight (plus or minus the main character’s proactivity, that whole princess thing, and the singing dancing thugs), Rapunzel’s Revenge… well, there’s a tower. For about six pages. And the rest is the journey towards, well, revenge.

Speaking of plot, both Rapunzels go on journeys of self-discovery, but these take entirely different forms. Tangled!Rapunzel needs to see what those funny floating lights are, find out who she is, and realize that Mother doesn’t really know best. RR!Rapunzel, on the other hand, skips that step entirely (it was her reaction to learning the truth about herself and her mother that got her stuck in that tree in the middle of nowhere), instead having the morality and borderline hero complex that came from her history with Goethel clash against the reality of the outside world. She knew people before she was towered, so she has justified skills, isn’t quite as innocent, and occasionally takes advantage of old connections. Her self-discovery is more going from “Holy cow I can do WHAT with my hair?” to fighting on instinct and knowing who and what she’s fighting for. The romances, also, differ; Tangled’s is front and center and a source of character development for both, whereas the romance in RR is almost entirely subtextual until the very end.

One of the parallels and contrasts I found interesting was the Mothers Gothel, and what they want from their respective Rapunzels (since in neither case is it just companionship). Tangled!Gothel thrives in obscurity; she’s in it for the immortality that’s stuck in her Rapunzel’s pretty hair, and her primary advantage seems to be her ability to twist the truth six ways from Wednesday (though the apparent secondary specialty in hand to hand combat doesn’t hurt). RR!Gothel, on the other hand, is a dictator controlling her region through the ability to wither and grow plants as she pleases; she raised her Rapunzel in a palace for most of her life (giving her a chance to learn lasso tricks and other unorthodox skills from the minions), only stuffing her in the tower after the girl meets her real mother, realizes she’s been lied to all her life and decides enough is enough. Everyone on the trip knows who Gothel is, and the main difference between people is whether they like her, hate her or (in most cases) are just plain afraid of her.

Then there are the endings (if you’re worried about spoilers, SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH). Both of them lose the hair and find their successful ending, at least overall. I was rather disappointed with Tangled’s conclusion, in that Rapunzel never does shake Gothel’s control herself, and that her decision at the end is rendered irrelevant by the love interest’s immediately-countered-by-twoo-wuv sacrifice. Rapunzel’s Revenge, on the other hand, climaxes with a fight; she’s disarmed halfway through, pulls some vines instead, there’s at least one Chekhov’s Gun and help from an unlikely source, and let’s just say it’s pretty awesome.

Same source. Two wildly different stories, both with some pretty strong selling points.

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