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

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An early logo for the film.

Status: Partially Found

Disney's Tangled was a retelling of the classic Grimms’ fairy tale of Rapunzel. It was the first instance of Disney turning a fairy tale into a CG 3D-animated film instead of traditional 2D animation. However, the film’s development was turbulent. Many pitches were made, each with a unique spin on the story. Some were more modernized, while others kept the fairy tale themes. Unfortunately, many early drafts of these pitches have remained lost after they were passed over.

Original Pitch Version

Rapunzel was one of many stories that Disney wanted to adapt to film 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 prior to Tangled‘s development.

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 the idea for a little while, until Tarzan took over his time.

This version of the film would have been a musical, with Chris Curtis attached to write the songs[2]. In 2001, Keane pitched the story to former Disney CEO Michael Eisner. Eisner liked it, but stipulated that it had to be CG instead of hand-drawn[3]. Keane was reportedly hesitant to do a CG film, as he was a big proponent of hand-drawn animation, but was intrigued by Eisner's challenge to make CG as fluid and beautiful as traditional animation. Keane and his team began working on creating technology necessary to make this challenge reality. Their best-known test was a recreation of the painting "The Swing" by artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard, featuring Rapunzel swinging on the swing.

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

Soon after the initial pitch, Dreamworks' Shrek was released and was met with huge success. In response, Eisner charged Keane with making Rapunzel more like Shrek, transforming it from a rather dark adaptation of the original fairy tale into a broader all-ages comedy. Little is known about 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 he started[4]. No script drafts have been released since. 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[5].

Rapunzel Unbraided

With the switch to a more Shrek-like tone came a new title: Rapunzel Unbraided. At the suggestion of Michael Eisner, the story’s setting was set to modern-day San Fransisco[6]. A decent amount known about this iteration of the film because Disney frequently discussed it. Disney had tension with Pixar at the time and Rapunzel: Unbraided was their star title, which they hoped would prove that they could match up to Pixar’s quality. In 2005, Disney hosted talks at SIGGRAPH, a computer graphics conference. Glen Keane gave a talk and showcased concept art and summaries for several upcoming films, including Rapunzel: Unbraided. This was the synopsis for the movie:[7].”

The protagonists of the film were two teens named Claire and Vincent. They were voiced by Reese Witherspoon and Dan Fogler. Two small pieces of test footage were also 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, having been transformed into an animal when the teens were brought into their world. The kingdom’s prince, Beau, transformed into a basset hound. Kristin Chenoweth would provide the voice of Rapunzel. It is unknown who would provide the voice of Beau.

Shortly after the final test clip was released, a few minutes of pre-viz animation by artist Tony Hudson leaked. These scenes included 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 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[8]. Kristin Chenoweth recorded a song from the film called "What Would I Be Like”[9]. Nothing else that Tesori wrote has been released or leaked. In 2003, sibling writing duo Adam and Melanie Wilson were tapped to write the film[10]. A year later, Sara Parriott and Josann McGibbon were brought on to take over writing duties.[11]. Nothing either pair wrote has ever surfaced. This version of the movie was canceled in early 2006 as one of the last acts of the Eisner era of Disney. No scripts from this version have ever been released.


The cancellation did not last long, as Pixar veterans Ed Catmull and John Lasseter were put in charge of all Disney animation after the two studios merged. 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 pirate, but his design changed into a gentle giant thief. There was also an evil thief character named Griffol.[12] 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.[13]

There were many changes made to this version of the film. The basset hound was left as a pet character, the previously-written 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 Gothel 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.[14]

The artists were inspired by the dramatic lighting and earth-tone colors of Rembrandt’s paintings, and they attempted to give the film a look similar to his paintings.[15] The movie continued to go forward with development and, in spring 2007, Dean Wellins was brought in as co-director.[16] 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 redid the film’s concepts, 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.


Greno and Howard brought on Disney legend Alan Menken to write songs for their version of the film. The pair also wanted to base 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 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 remainder of 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, formerly called the Jaunty Moose, and instead, the ruffians and thugs recited poetry. After that, there’s a snippet 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, there was a scene where Flynn and Rapunzel are told their futures by Vigor the Visionary, a monkey fortune teller. Vigor does make an appearance in the end credits of the final film and the spin-off animated series, Tangled The Series/Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure.

The Jaunty Moose Part 1

Compilation of deleted scenes.

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 do not appear that way 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. These sequences imply 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.[17].”

Lyricist Glenn Slater later posted the full lyrics of the song on Twitter:

You are my forever,
You’re my shining sun.
You and me
Were meant to be
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[18].

In another tweet, he revealed when the song 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.”



"Are There Girls In The World Like Me?"

"All That I've Done For You."

Glen Keane showing an animation test for Rapunzel.


See Also


Animation (Disney)

Animation (Pixar)


Live Action

Short Films


  1. Glen Keane discusses the origins of Tangled. Retrieved 03 Dec '20
  2. Chris Curtis writing a song for Rapunzel in 2000.Retrieved 20 Dec '20
  3. Keane's pitch to CEO Michael Eisner. Retrieved 03 Dec '20
  4. Jon Bernstein's claim to be the original writer of Rapunzel. Retrieved 03 Dec '20
  5. Chris Curtis' website. Retrieved 03 Dec '20
  6. Eisner suggesting modern-day San Fransisco. Retrieved 03 Dec '20
  7. "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 princeRapunzel Unbraided synopsis from SIGGRAPH 2005. Retrieved 04 Dec '20

  8. Jeanine Tesori briefly talking about Rapunzel. Retrieved 04 Dec '20
  9. Kristin Chenoweth recorded a song for Rapunzel UnbraidedRetrieved 05 Dec '20
  10. Adam and Melanie Wilson hired to write RapunzelRetrieved 20 Dec '20
  11. Variety report on people being hired for Rapunzel UnbraidedRetrieved 05 Dec '20
  12. The new charactersRetrieved 08 Dec '20
  13. John Lasseter loved the first act circa 2006Retrieved 08 Dec '20
  14. Storyboards from 2008 by artist Toby Shelton. Retrieved 04 Dec '20
  15. Rembrandt influencing Rapunzel. Retrieved 04 Dec '20
  16. Dean Wellins made co-director. Retrieved 04 Dec '20
  17. "[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 itD23's article on Rapunzel. Retrieved 04 Dec '20

  18. Glenn Slater tweets about You Are My Forever Retrieved 31 Dec '20