Tangled (partially found early drafts of Disney animated film; 2001-2010)

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Rapunzel-title-logo.jpg

An early logo for the film.

Status: Partially Found

Disney's Tangled was a retelling of the classic fairy tale of Rapunzel. It was the first time that Disney had turned a fairy tale into a CG film instead of traditional 2D animation. Before it was released in November 2010, it had taken a long, turbulent ride through development.

Original Pitch Version[edit | edit source]

Rapunzel was one of many stories that Disney looked at after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the late 1930s, although it is not known how much work was done on Rapunzel specifically. Legendary animator Glen Keane came up with the idea to turn the story into a Disney animated movie in 1996 while he was working on Tarzan.[1] He developed it for a little while until Tarzan took over his time. This version would have been a musical, with Chris Curtis attached to write the songs.[2] Eventually, he pitched the story to Disney CEO Michael Eisner in 2001. Eisner liked it, but stipulated that it had to be CG instead of hand-drawn.[3] Keane was hesitant to do a CG film, being a big proponent of hand-drawn animation, but was intrigued by Eisner's challenge to make CG as fluid and beautiful as traditional animation. So he and the team began working on creating technology to make this happen. Their best-known test was a recreation of the painting "The Swing" by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.

Art by Lisa Keene of Rapunzel done in the style of The Swing by Fragonard.

Soon after the pitch, Dreamworks' Shrek was released and was a huge success. In response, Eisner charged Keane with making Rapunzel more like that film, transforming it from a rather dark adaptation of the original fairy tale into a broader comedy. Little is known of the story of the film before this switch. Screenwriter Jon Bernstein has said he was the first writer on the project, though it's unknown when, exactly, he started.[4] Nothing he wrote has ever gotten out to the public, whether it was for this version or the next. Chris Curtis put demos of two songs he wrote for the film, "Are There Girls In The World Like Me" and "All That I've Done For You," on his website.

Rapunzel Unbraided[edit | edit source]

With the switch to a more Shrek-like tone came a new title: Rapunzel Unbraided. At the suggestion of Michael Eisner, the story was changed to incorporate a modern-day component set in San Fransisco.[5] There's a decent amount known about this version because Disney frequently talked about the film. Disney was fighting with Pixar at the time and Rapunzel Unbraided was their star title, which would prove that they still had their mojo of the Disney Renaissance era and could compete with Pixar. In 2005, Disney came in force to SIGGRAPH, a computer graphics conference. Glen Keane gave a talk and on the show floor, there were concept art and summaries for several upcoming films including Rapunzel Unbraided. This was the synopsis for the movie:[6]

"Sick to death of storybook endings where true love conquers all, our frustrated witch brings two romantically challenged teens from the real world into the classic fairy tale, and transforms them into the legendary long-haired heroine and her gallant prince."

The teens were named Claire and Vincent and were voiced by Reese Witherspoon and Dan Fogler. There were also two small pieces of test footage shown. One was a treatment for the logo, with Rapunzel's hair flowing out the window of her tower. The other was a brief clip of Claire-as-Rapunzel speaking to a squirrel just after she was transported into the fairy tale world.

Animated Logo Treatment
SIGGRAPH 2005 test clip

The squirrel in the test clip is the real Rapunzel. She and the prince were transformed into animals when the teens were brought into their world, with the prince, Beau, becoming a basset hound. Kristin Chenoweth would provide the voice of Rapunzel. Shortly after the final film released, a couple of minutes of pre-viz animation by artist Tony Hudson leaked from this version, including the very beginning of the movie, a scene of the teens driving around in a carriage in the fairytale world, and what appears to be the very end of the film.

Rapunzel Unbraided pre-viz by Tony Hudson
Demo reel from Tony Hudson including more pre-viz for Rapunzel Unbraided
Demo reel from Jeff Brodsky including animation tests and a higher-quality version of the SIGGRAPH test clip (albeit without audio)

Jeanine Tesori was hired to write songs for the film.[7] Kristin Chenoweth recorded one called "What Would I Be Like."[8] Nothing Tesori wrote has ever been released or leaked. In 2003, sibling writing duo Adam and Melanie Wilson were tapped to write the film[9]. A year later, Sara Parriott and Josann McGibbon were brought on to take over writing duties.[10]. Nothing either pair wrote has ever surfaced. This version of the movie was essentially canceled in early 2006 as one of the last acts of the Eisner regime. No scripts from this version have ever been released.

Rapunzel[edit | edit source]

The cancellation did not last long, as Pixar veterans Ed Catmull and John Lasseter were put in charge of all Disney animation after merging with their studio. One of their first decisions was to put Rapunzel back into pre-production, only this time it would be going back to the darker vision that Glen Keane originally wanted to do. Claire, Vincent, and the modern story in San Fransisco were dropped and the story went back to just Rapunzel, Mother Gothel, and a suitor.

This time, the suitor was named Bastion. At first, he looked like a gypsy pirate, then he changed into a gentle giant thief whose design may have been an inspiration for Kristoff in Frozen. There was also an evil thief character named Griffol.[11] Head of Animation John Lasseter viewed a presentation of the first act of the story circa summer 2006 and reportedly thought it was one of the strongest opening acts of any Disney film.[12]

There were many changes made to this version of the film. The basset hound was left as a pet character, the songs were cut entirely, and Mother Gothel was said to be "a sinister, brooding villain in the tradition of the Queen in Snow White." In 2008, artist Toby Shelton storyboarded a sequence where she is helping Rapunzel wash her hair when Rapunzel starts humming a tune from the outside world that she learned from "the intruder." Later that night, while Rapunzel is asleep, Gothel searches her room for more signs of a connection to the outside world.[13]

The artists were inspired by Rembrandt and attempted to give the film a look similar to his paintings, with dramatic lighting and earth-tone colors.[14] The movie continued to have story problems and in spring 2007, Dean Wellins was brought in as co-director.[15] Then in October 2008, Keane suffered a heart attack and had to step back from the production. This marked the end of Keane's version of the movie, as Nathan Greno and Byron Howard were brought in and essentially redid the entire film, turning the movie into a more traditional Disney fairy tale musical. Not a lot is known about the story before the switch and no script for it has ever been released/leaked.

Tangled[edit | edit source]

Greno and Howard brought on Disney legend Alan Menken to write songs and based the visuals of the movie on other Disney fairy tales, mostly Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. The male lead became Flynn Rider, a charming thief. The title was changed from Rapunzel to Tangled after the lower-than-expected box office returns of The Princess and the Frog. Disney executives were fearful that boys were put off by titles that felt "girly." The directing pair had already been discussing title changes since Flynn was so important in their version that it felt odd to name it just after Rapunzel.[citation needed]

The story in this version stayed mostly similar up to release. The DVD and Blu-ray release included several deleted scenes and two alternate openings. The filmmakers originally wanted to start with a storybook opening, just like the old Disney movies, but eventually dropped it in favor of the Flynn Rider narration of the final film. These storybook openings had narration from Donna Murphy, who voiced Mother Gothel.

Alternate Opening 1
Alternate Opening 2

The deleted scenes all came from the middle of the movie, around the Snuggly Duckling sequence. Before the song "I've Got A Dream" was written, there was no musical number in the pub, then called the Jaunty Moose, and instead, the ruffians and thugs recited poetry. After that was a brief cut moment of the ruffians and thugs seeing Rapunzel and Flynn off as they caught a ride in a wagon. They waved to Rapunzel but gave icy glares to Flynn. Finally, a scene where Flynn and Rapunzel are told their futures by Vigor the Visionary, a monkey fortune teller. Vigor actually makes an appearance in the end credits of the final film.

The Jaunty Moose Part 1
Rapunzel and Eugene Moment
Vigor the Visionary

The original trailer for the film included a bit of Rapunzel's hair, beating up Flynn after he enters the tower. There are several shots in this sequence that are fully lit and animated but are not in the final film. The way the hair behaves is similar to a part of the Jaunty Moose deleted scene when Rapunzel uses her hair to beat up the thugs and ruffians in a similar manner. It's possible that Rapunzel's hair was set to be more prominent in combat in the early stages of the story.

Trailer 1

There was also a cut song written for this version, a lullaby called "You Are My Forever." The only official mention of it came in an article in the Summer 2009 issue of D23 Magazine.[16]

"[Alan Menken] delivered this lullaby that Rapunzel and Mother Gothel sing to each other that activates the magic in Rapunzel’s hair. The song’s lyrics say ‘You are my forever,’ which – depending on who sings it and when – takes on entirely different meanings. Sometimes it’s a love song between our prince, Flynn, and Rapunzel; other times it’s a terrifying, possessive theme used by Gothel. But it’s great because it’s a very heartrending, beautiful song, and (Menken) really nailed it."

Lyricist Glenn Slater posted the full lyrics of the song on Twitter[17]:

You are my forever,
You’re my shining sun.
You and me
Were meant to be
Eternally
As one.
Heal me in your glow,
Make me feel alive,
Shield me as the years roll by...
‘Til the stars are dark,
‘Til the seas are dry,
Stay here and be my forever.

And revealed when it was used:

You would have heard it three times: 1) In the prologue, Gothel singing to the flower and growing younger, 2) in the tower, Gothel singing to Rapunzel's hair and growing younger, 3) At the end, Rapunzel singing to the dead Flynn, and unwittingly activating the last droplet.

- Glenn Slater on the cut song.

References[edit | edit source]