Rapunzel is Barbie's second full-length animation
feature. Like the successful debut movie, Barbie in the
Nutcracker, CGI animation is used to capture
Barbie in a magical story that has her, playing as Rapunzel, "painting" her
way to freedom. And, who better than Barbie, with her glorious golden
locks, to play as Rapunzel? Children are treated to works of
art from the likes of Leonardo DaVinci and more legends; and the
soundtrack features music performed by the London Symphony
Orchestra. The movie
features voice acting from Anjelica Huston, Kelly
Sheridan, and Cree Summer.
The Story. The
movie opens with Kelly, Barbie's little sister, stumped over what
she should paint. This prompts Barbie to tell Kelly a story about
a girl whose paintings saved her life.
Barbie as Rapunzel
retells the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale in a fresh new
way. Hidden inside a manor, which in turn is hidden inside a
mysterious and magical forest, is a young girl named Rapunzel. She
lives in captivity--at the beck and call of Lady Gothel, an unpleasant and
strict witch. Luckily, she has some animal friends--Hobie, a
talking rabbit, and Penelope, a talking purple dragon (pictured at
left). And, she
has her art! Although Gothel disapproves of her painting,
preferring that Rapunzel spend her time serving her, Rapunzel
still manages to squeeze in some painting time in between her many
A couple of chance discoveries change Rapunzel's rather grim
life forever. First, a spoon accidentally opens a hidden staircase
that leads underground. There, Barbie finds an old box with a hairbrush
inside. The engraving on the brush begins with, "To our
daughter on her first birthday", which has Barbie wondering
about Gothel's claim that her parents had abandoned her as a baby.
a hidden tunnel beneath the manor leads Rapunzel to an enchanting
kingdom where she meets Prince Stefan, played by Ken. Rapunzel has
no idea that Stefan is the son of King Frederick whose kingdom is
at war with another kingdom, ruled by King Wilhelm. Rapunzel promises to return the next day, but Gothel locks
her in a tower.
Isolated in the tower, Rapunzel finds hope in her parents'
words she has read on the hairbrush. Soon she discovers that,
through the power of her imagination and her paintings, she can
not only solve her own problems, but bring peace to the kingdoms.
Supporting characters and a multitude of sub-plots and
interesting story twists add to the fun and adventure. Kelly,
Melody, and Lorena (pictured above) appear as princesses.
The producers have wisely altered the original fairy tale (which contained inappropriate content for
children) with a new,
politically correct, and considerably more responsible story line.
The movie's use of Computer Generated Imaging seems a perfect
fit for bringing the Barbie dolls to life--there's a slight
stiffness to the characters that actually works in the movie's favor!
Still, it is remarkable how the animation captures subtle
nuances and expressions--from the characters' movements to the
expressions on their faces. All in all, it's a visual treat.
The soundtrack to the movie is just as pleasant. Classical
music (performed by the London Symphony Orchestra) and tunes from
a young R&B-pop star, Samantha Mumba, nicely support
and enhance the story line.
Barbie as Rapunzel is filled with adventure. While the overall
theme is powerful and positive, the very young may find some of
the adventurous scenes involving Gothel a little too
overstimulating. The movie, therefore, is probably best for
children ages 6 and up.
DVD Edition: Barbie as Rapunzel DVD edition features nice
extras. First, there is a "My Favorite Scenes" option in
which children can quickly skip to any of 21 scenes, including the
beginning and ending credits. There is a wide-screen or
full-screen option. In a nice touch, Barbie actually narrates the
DVD's menus, making it easy for young children to make their
In the "More Fun" section of the DVD, an interactive art gallery
activity introduces children to art history and fundamentals. For
example, Barbie describes the meaning of a "landscape",
and asks kids to find the painting (from a group of 4) that
features a landscape. When kids select the correct painting, they
see a close-up of the painting, learn about the artist, and are
asked to spot interesting scenes in the piece of art. This
activity is educational and interesting.
Of course, it seems that no Barbie game is
complete without a dress-up activity! The "Dress Up Rapunzel" game
allows children to choose ball gowns and hairstyles for Barbie
using the DVD remote control.
Also included is "The Artist In Me" documentary,
starring 19-year-old art prodigy Amanda Dunbar, who gives viewers
a tour of her art studio, her home, and her show at an art
gallery. Other female artists are featured as well.