Making the Grades
Do you remember those dolls with the ponytail you yanked to make the hair grow long and the twist crank on the back to make it short? I wonder if they were the inspiration for Barbie as Rapunzel...
Even if they weren't, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, The Little Engine That Could, and Romeo and Juliet certainly are. Braiding elements from each of these familiar stories, and starring the icon with more golden tresses to let down than any other, Mattel Entertainment recreates the classic fairytale.
Abandoned as a baby, Rapunzel (played by Barbie and voiced by Kelly Sheridan) has been raised in a manor house hidden deep within a magic forest, by an exacting benefactress named Gothel (Anjelica Huston). Shut away from the rest of the world, the young woman's only friends are a white rabbit (Ian James Corlett) and a young dragon (Cree Summer). Kept busy cooking and cleaning for the sorceress, the blonde beauty uses her scarce free time for painting.
One day the aspiring artist accidentally stumbles across a secret passage leading to the world outside where she meets a handsome stranger. But when she returns to tell her companions about the discovery, an angry Gothel locks the girl in a tower.
When the prisoner tries to paint her way out of this corner (using a magic paintbrush, her imagination, and an honest heart), her quest for freedom impacts the lives of her friends, her foes and the inhabitants of two kingdoms.
Despite a predictable plot, Barbie as Rapunzel is a positive role model exemplifying qualities of friendship, loyalty, and self-esteem, set in a soothing soundtrack by the London Symphony Orchestra. Containing only mild elements of violence, such as a scary nightmare sequence, some dueling swords, fire breathing dragons and bolts of magic, the movie never forgets its young target audience. (This is especially noticeable when Rapunzel uses the magic paintbrush to create an assortment of ball gowns.)
Extra features on the DVD version include Rapunzel's Art Gallery. Although not as gimmicky as the variable-hair-length toy, its introduction to classic paintings has the potential to inspire budding artists.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Barbie as Rapunzel.
Penelope’s father tells her that mighty dragons stand for power, courage and loyalty. Why does feeling she is disappointing her parent affect the young dragon’s self-esteem? How does courage help her to overcome her doubts? What did Penelope teach her father about loyalty?
How did the feud between the two kingdoms start? What kept it going? Who benefited from the civil unrest? What can you learn from this portrayal that could help you avoid disagreements in you life?