4.07.2011

Stories of Mistreated Royals

I've watched two movies in the last week: The King's Speech and Tangled. (Spoilers ahead.)

I liked them both. I expected to like The King's Speech, given that everybody and their second cousin (plus The Academy) did. I didn't expect to like Tangled quite as much as I did, but that scene in the dive bar where all the tough guys were singing about their dreams was enough to push it from four to five stars. That, and Mandy Moore. I do like me some Mandy Moore.

That said, I also thought there were some disturbing undercurrents in Tangled. As well there should be; it is, after all, a fairy tale, and those fairy tales can be very dark. The evil fake mother, with all her creepy psychological tricks, is absolutely horrifying. The movie references the agony Rapunzel feels when she disobeys her mother through a humorous lens, as she swings between poles of exhilaration and despair. But the movie doesn't address the extremely complicated grief Rapunzel would experience upon realizing that her mother is not her mother, mere moments before the woman simultaneously hyper-ages and plummets to her death. It's not like I expected the movie to do so. Animated Disney movies are supposed to end with the obligatory happily ever after.

In reality, Tangled could have segued right into The King's Speech, a movie in which a royal figure grapples with the consequences of familial mistreatment and abuse. Decidedly not a fairy tale, the disturbing undercurrent in The Kings Speech is the unfolding of World War II. But The King's Speech can inspire where Tangled can (only?) enchant, because The King's Speech puts the wounded royal in the hands of a healer, not a myth. That Lionel Logue and his non-anxious caregiving made me so grateful for all the varied healers - therapists and doctors and nurses and pastors - who help people move toward wholeness.

That said, Tangled inspires in another way, with its story of sacrificial love and resurrection. I just hope that poor girl got some help, too.

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