Disney’s Tangled re-imagines Grimm’s Fairy Tale

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With two older brothers and no sisters, I wasn’t allowed to be a Disney kid. By the time I came along, fairy tales were “gay” and animated movies were for babies. I still got to watch a few Disney movies and was read some fairy tales, but the books were put away sooner than with my brothers and I was often voted down when it came time to choose a movie to see at the theater. It was a virtual hell, people. Did I mention the pile of boulders in the back yard I was forced to chip away at every day with a claw hammer?

When I was 11 or so, my mom felt guilty about the forced denial of my childhood innocence (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a touch) and kept bugging me to go with her to see a re-release of Sleeping Beauty. It was a tough sell because by then I was watching Escape From New York on VHS at sleep-over birthday parties, not The Rescuers.

The A-Team was “rad.” Some stupid princess? Not rad, Mom.  But I relented and I remember enjoying Sleeping Beauty, especially the artistry as I loved to draw. It was also one of the first times I realized that old movies could be quite accomplished and thrilling.

But I was too young to know that these stories came from a book named Grimm’s Fairy Tales and it would be decades before screenwriters would be lauded for selling specs based on clever “re-imaginings” of myths and folklore.

Nowadays, one can’t help but notice the tidal wave of reboots, re-makes and re-interpretations of classic tales, so it behooves a screenwriter to be familiar with this vital source material. It will always give your logline and script an edge toward getting a submission if there’s a tie-in to a universally beloved fable.

Grimms Fairy Tales BookSo when I found a cheap, used copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales in my favorite bookstore in Oakland, California, I snatched it up and immediately got to studying these classic stories…

I was blown away to see just how many of these stories were now fixtures in popular culture: they include The Frog Prince, Hansel and Grethel, Cinderella, Snow-white, Tom Thumb, The Sleeping Beauty and Rumpelstiltskin.

These Grimm guys have spawned more movies than Philip K. Dick!

I’ve been writing Story Maps for some of these tales, including Cinderella (which I’m using as the template for a writing assignment) and I’m not surprised to see that they often incorporate 10-12 beats that fit snugly into a map.

And now Disney is giving us Tangled, based on Rapunzel. It looks like a lot of fun.

Tangled definitely looks like a more modern take on the story, but how many liberties have they taken with the source material?

Here’s a Story Map for the original Grimm’s fairy tale…


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