Tangled added Rapunzel to the well-respected line of Disney royalty, but the original draft could have actually ruined the princesses for good. Rapunzel made an impact as a fun, and realistic princess. She had dreams, talents, and interests. She was also courageous whilst being vulnerable about her anxieties which were a product of being raised by the abusive Mother Gothel. Her winning personality was an immediate hit, yet it could have gone another way.

An animated film starring Rapunzel had been in the works at Disney ever since the 1930s after Snow White and the Seven Dwarves made movie history. However, Walt ended up scrapping the idea, and it wasn’t picked up again until the late 1990s, with work starting in the early 2000s. The film was worked on continuously throughout this time until its release in 2010 and featured extensive changes to its characters and plot due to the team of creatives changing multiple times. The most well-developed premise before it became Tangled was entitled Rapunzel Unbraided.


Rapunzel Unbraided would have leaned into satirizing fairytale princess stories. Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney at the time, saw the success of Shrek as it trivialized animated fairytale retellings, and wanted to emulate this in the Rapunzel film. Disney regularly changes the original princess fairytales, and Rapunzel Unbraided was no exception, as it involved two teenagers swapping bodies with Rapunzel and her prince. In turn, the princess and prince would be turned into a squirrel and a bloodhound respectively. A script has never been leaked, but small clips of the film exist on YouTube, which showcases the type of comedy that the film would have been built on.

This idea would have entirely insulted what Disney had just built its renaissance on. The 1990s just introduced iconic princesses such as Ariel, Belle, Mulan, Pocahontas, and Jasmine. Rapunzel Unbraided was planned to be Disney’s first animated princess film of the 2000s and to make it a satire would have felt completely out of place given what had come before it, though it could be argued the renaissance changed Disney princesses for the worse. Shrek‘s success was down to it being a breath of fresh air by a new animation company still finding its footing. Disney, on the other hand, was producing the very works that Shrek satirized, thus the idea of the company making fun of themselves would have come off as awkward and desperate, putting a damper on Disney princesses as a whole.

Many Disney projects, and film projects in general, begin life as a completely different idea to what it becomes in the final product. Tangled‘s origins are a far cry to the finished film, and thankfully it was changed for the better. Rapunzel Unbraided, in retrospect, seems a very dated premise attempting to piggyback from the success of another studio’s work, whereas Tangled is a timeless film (with audiences waiting on Tangled 2) showcasing the best of what Disney has to offer.

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