Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



There’s a short list of movies that I will remember for their sheer visual beauty. Films like Barry Lyndon and Baraka and Days of Heaven and An American in Paris and Ran and Across the Universe. I can now add this one to the list. It is computer animated, but the color palette is outrageous and the textures are amazing. The animators wrote some new programs to attempt to capture the sort of lush detail in the works of rococo painters like Fragonard, particularly his best-known piece, “The Swing.” I think they succeeded marvelously. Some of it also reminds me of Maxfield Parrish’s dreamy visions. The story is good without being remarkable. It was rewritten and retitled a few times, bringing up the role of Flynn Rider, the sassy, irreverent rogue who narrates the picture, in an attempt to bring in the teenage male audience. They already figured they had a lock on the girls, particularly the younger ones who spend billions to become Disney Princesses, of whom Rapunzel will be the tenth (plus three unofficial princesses: Alice, Tinkerbell, and Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame). I hate to see plots driven by merchandising considerations—and I frankly doubt the dude drew in all that many teen boys—but I have to agree that his street smarts provided a good contrast to the naïve princess who has spent all her life in a tower, with her most exciting activity being the growing of her magical, prehensile hair. She reminds me of Ariel, from The Little Mermaid, in that she is avid to see the world and endlessly fascinated by it. She’s spunky, when she isn’t suffering from manic-depressive bouts of anxiety from disobeying the evil woman she thinks is her mother. The music is okay, highlighted by “I’ve Got a Dream,” where a bunch of thugs in a lowlife tavern sing of some of the surprising things they’d really like to be, if they weren’t thugs. It reminded me a little of Gilbert and Sullivan, “When a Felon’s Not Engaged in His Employment.” While all the scenes are beautiful to look at, one stands out. Literally thousands of little hot air balloons are released with candles inside them, and swarm over a lake and castle It’s a magical Disney moment.