Biblical Elements in the Film "Tangled" (SPOILERS)
I saw the movie "Tangled" with my friend Daryl and his girlfriend Whitney a few weeks ago. I had some thoughts about certain elements in the movie, but I never voiced them until now. Here goes, spoilers included...
In the beginning of the film, a drop of sunlight fulls to Earth and creates a flower with healing properties. Goethel, then an elderly woman, figures out how to use the flower to (temporarily) restore her youth, but keeps the flower hidden and uses it only for herself.
That reminded me of the Biblical verse Matthew 5:15 (NIV), which is as follows:
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Goethel hid the healing plant under a basket. She didn't try to either sell access to it (to generate capital to invest in worthy projects) or use it to heal the sick or injured as an act of benevolence. There isn't any indication she even tried to pollinate other plants from the magical flower to produce more of them, which would allow her to keep the plant she had found and also produce more of these flowers to benefit other people.
(To be fair, Matthew 5:16 elaborates on 5:15 and is basically about letting one's light shine before men so that others will see one's good works and praise God in heaven, so my over-literalizing the passage harms the context somewhat. That being said, Goethel didn't do any good deeds with the magical plant she had found through no merit of her own. Luke 12:48 states to whom much is given much is expected and Goethel was given something pretty darn substantial.)
When the queen of a nearby city grew deathly ill while pregnant, Goethel apparently made no attempt to use the plant's healing powers to help, even though from a perspective of self-interest alone, it would have gotten her the royal family's gratitude. When the king's soldiers found the plant and used it to heal the queen, who then gave birth to a girl whose hair inherited the flower's supernatural healing properties (Rapunzel), Goethel proceeded to abduct her and raise her in a tower.
That's extremely selfish, denying parents their child and denying a dynasty its heir, especially when Goethel could have tried something else like applying for a job in the castle in which she would potentially have access to Rapunzel or, given how incompetent the castle guards seem to be, sneaking in and doing the magical hair thing every so often.
Although she educated Rapunzel (the film shows she has access to books on history and geography) and provided her the means to exercise her other talents like painting and baking, she deliberately isolated her, convinced her the outside world was a dangerous place, and tried to make her believe she was weak and untalented.
(Goethel is IMO a classic example of an emotional abuser.)
The "light hidden under a bushel" thing continues. Although Rapunzel is certainly talented in painting, baking, etc, as a princess she was intended to (in the absence of brothers, I would imagine) succeed her father as ruler and apparently did that quite well according to the voice-over epilogue of the movie. Her light was hidden away, so to speak, and her talents would not have been fully developed had she remained in the tower.
And that in turn ties in with Jesus's parable of the talents (a substantial unit of money in those days), which can be found in Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:12-27. I will not post the entirety of them here, but here is the the Wikipedia entry on the parables.
Note that the master who returns and demands his servants give an account of what he entrusted them with is displeased with the servant who did not put his talent (a unit of money in those days) to use. Not only did he not invest it in a profitable venture, he didn't even put it in the bank to gain interest. In all versions of the story, the master takes the talent away to give to the other servants who put it to good use and in the Matthew version, the "worthless" servant is sent to what is obviously a representation of Hell!
I am not suggesting Rapunzel would have automatically gone to hell if she had died in her isolated, abused state (she seems to know something is wrong even in the beginning of the film, but also trusts the woman she believes is her mother and we are commanded to honor our parents), but I strongly suspect Goethel would be in exceedingly deep trouble, not only for the obvious stuff (extreme selfishness, kidnapping, lying, attempted murder, etc). For James 3:1 (NIV) states as follows:
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
Rapunzel not fully developing her talents would have been the result of Goethel's false teachings (among other things) and Goethel is likely to be punished for that on top of the other stuff.
I have some related comments pertaining to certain present-day theological disputes going on in the American church, but I think I will save them for a later blog entry. Among other reasons, it's Christmas.