Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Barbie as Rapunzel

Go To
"Love and imagination can change the world."

Barbie as Rapunzel is a 2002 Direct to Video Barbie film directed by Owen Hurley. It is the second in the series of computer animated Barbie films, following the success of Barbie in the Nutcracker, adapted from The Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the same name.

Long, long ago, in a time of magic and dragons, there lived a girl named Rapunzel, who had the most beautiful, radiant hair the world had ever seen. But Rapunzel's life was far from wonderful. She lived as a servant of Gothel, a jealous, scheming witch who kept her hidden deep in a forbidding forest, guarded by the enormous dragon Hugo and surrounded by an enchanted magic wall.

Rapunzel's discovery of a magic paintbrush leads her on a journey that will unravel a web of deception, bring peace to two feuding kingdoms, and ultimately lead her to love the handsome Prince Stefan.

In 2003, it was succeeded by Barbie of Swan Lake.

The film has examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Gothel fits the emotionally abusive type to a T. She's not even so lenient as to let Rapunzel address her as anything but "milady."
  • Acrophobic Bird: Penelope, still being a young dragon, is a little rusty at very high heights. She gets better.
  • Adaptational Badass: The witch in the original tale never displayed much magic. Gothel here is able to use her magic to create the tower in the first place and imprison someone inside it forever. She's also able to keep three men armed with swords on the defensive in the climax, handily demonstrating that she can take them out with magic faster than they can attack.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Gothel wasn't an ideal mother in the original story, but she wasn't an emotionally abusive slave-driver to Rapunzel like she is here. Also, in the original story, Gothel got Rapunzel out of a (admittedly rather questionable) deal with her father, rather than kidnapping her out of petty revenge. She certainly never intended to start a war either.
  • Adopt-a-Servant: Gothel took Rapunzel in as a baby and treats her like a servant instead of a daughter, with Rapunzel being required to cook and clean for her and address her as "My lady". As it turns out, this is because Gothel didn't adopt Rapunzel like she led her to believe, and actually kidnapped her from her parents as retribution against Rapunzel's father.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Gothel. The German dub makes her a baroness.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After hearing about the feud between Frederick and Wilhelm, Rapunzel asks why the kings can't sit down and talk it out, especially when the feud is hurting so many innocent people. Stefan immediately replies that it's too late to resolve the feud peacefully. However, he later seems to give her words more thought and suggests inviting King Wilhelm to the ball in an effort to start mending fences.
  • Asshole Victim: Given that Gothel is emotionally abusive towards Rapunzel, kidnapped Rapunzel out of petty revenge against her father, repeatedly accused the girl of both being ungrateful and a liar when she herself is both, and chained up Hugo to punish him for Penelope’s lack of loyalty to her, it’s hard to feel sorry for her when Rapunzel and Penelope trick her into getting trapped by her own spell, effectively punishing her for her actions against them and banishing her from their lives for good.
  • Attack Reflector: Stefan uses a plate to reflect Gothel's magic back at her, but she just absorbs it.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Wish Upon A Star."
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Katrina, Melody, and Lorena.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: Rapunzel paints living blue butterflies as she discovers the power of the paintbrush. One of those butterflies alerts Gothel to the painting's presence.
  • Casting Gag: Hugo is a purple dragon voiced by David Kaye. Sounds familiar... (though it should be noted Megatron was a purple T-rex, then a red dragon).
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The hairbrush Rapunzel finds in Gothel's hidden room later transforms into the magical paintbrush that allows her to escape the tower.
    • Rapunzel forgets to ask for Stefan's name during their first meeting, and later makes a point to avoid learning it after Gothel finds out about him. Her deliberate ignorance allows her to pass through Gothel's containment spell at the climax, since she never lied about not knowing his name.
  • Cool Big Sis: Barbie at the beginning, who tells this version of Rapunzel to motivate Kelly out of an artist's block.
  • Cool Crown: Rapunzel gets an ornate one, of gold molded in lots of curls.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Penelope, whose big tail and untrained fire and strength can come up at the worst times (and yet it conveniently works out for the plot).
  • Damsel out of Distress: Rapunzel manages to get out of most of the scrapes she finds herself in of her own accord.
  • Disneyfication: In a similar vein as Disney's version, this version leaves out all the less PG parts of the original fairy tale, including Rapunzel's Teen Pregnancy and the prince's Eye Scream.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the past, Gothel was rejected by her love interest, King Wilhelm. In revenge, she decided to kidnap his daughter, frame an innocent king for it and start a war between the two kingdoms in the hopes they'll destroy each other.
    • When Rapunzel can’t tell Gothel the name of the man she met on her trip out of the manor (as she has no idea what it is), Gothel destroys her art supplies and turns her room into a tower.
  • The Dragon: Gothel has Otto, a nasty talking ferret.
  • Dramatic Irony: When confronting Wilhelm, Gothel taunts that it would make little difference if she told him what became of her daughter, because she's seen to it Rapunzel will never reunite with her true family again. Unknown to Gothel, Rapunzel has already escaped her imprisonment because she didn't anticipate that the girl never possessed a "lying heart".
  • Driven by Envy: Gothel believed Wilhelm was in love with her and was furious when he married another woman. She kidnapped the infant Rapunzel in retaliation, rationalizing that Rapunzel should have been her daughter anyway. Gothel spends much of the movie proper working to deny Rapunzel any chance of reuniting with her birth parents, indicating that her grudge has not faded with the passing years.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Nothing earns a happy ending more than being kidnapped and putting up with Gothel for the majority of one's life. And nothing says happy ending quite like being free from Gothel and reuniting with one's family.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Gothel demonstrates this twice. First, she continually accuses Rapunzel of dishonesty, not once trusting her when she says she doesn’t know Stefan’s name. It never crosses her mind that perhaps, Rapunzel is telling the truth. Second, when Gothel goes on a monologue about how he should've loved her, Wilhelm angrily sums up that Gothel doesn't understand what it means to love. Given how she treats her surrogate daughter Rapunzel (despite believing she's the daughter she and Wilhelm could've had), he's got her pegged.
  • Evil Is Petty: Gothel kidnapped baby Rapunzel for no other reason than out of spite for her ex marrying and having a child with another woman. The feud between the kingdoms is just a bonus.
  • Evil Sorceress: Gothel has magic powers that range from casting a spell to trap someone in a tower forever to Agony Beams that could kill a person.
  • Exact Words: "Never release your prisoner with a lying heart!" is the spell Gothel chants to trap Rapunzel in the tower. But the way Gothel chooses to word the spell screws her over threefold: Rapunzel doesn't have a "lying heart" so she manages to escape the tower; Gothel, however, has been lying to Rapunzel all her life, along with numerous others, and is eventually trapped in the tower herself. And given she also made the spell unbreakable, she cannot dispel it. The power is such that all other traces of her magic, such as the magic wall, collapse and dissipate after she is trapped inside.
  • Fallen Princess: Rapunzel turns out to have been a princess kidnapped as a baby from her parents by Gothel, and forced to work as a servant ever since.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The film is based on a German fairytale, and the two kingdoms, along with the names of several characters-such as Stefan, Wilhelm, Otto and Frederick-seem to suggest the film is set in a fantasy version of 17th-century Germany.
  • Fatal Flaw: Gothel has two of them: her hypocrisy when it comes to lying and her inability to see that Rapunzel is being honest with her. It's these two flaws that lead her to unknowingly create what will become her own prison and be trapped in it forever.
  • Frame-Up: It's revealed that Gothel framed King Frederick for the kidnapping of King Wilhelm's daughter to start a war between them.
  • Framing Device: The story is framed by Barbie telling the story to Kelly to give her painting inspiration.
  • Furry Confusion: Talking dragons, ferrets, rabbits... and a completely normal palace horse.
  • Garnishing the Story: In no way are there dragons in the original fairy tale, but Penelope and her father Hugo serve to advance the story rather than act as distractions.
  • The Ghost: While his antagonistic actions against King Frederick are seen, King Wilhelm does not appear in person until the night of the ball, when he mounts a stealthy assault on the castle.
  • Girl in the Tower: Zig-zagged. Rapunzel initially acts as Gothel's servant in a spacious manor, with a magical barrier preventing her from leaving the grounds. However, after she finds a way past the magic wall and meets a man in the nearby town, Gothel turns her room into a tower to stop Rapunzel from leaving again. Rapunzel finds a way out anyway, thanks to the magic paintbrush, and resolves to leave for good, but Gothel destroys her escape route and casts a spell to seal her in the tower forever. Thanks to Exact Words, Rapunzel is able to escape once more and traps Gothel inside the tower, where she can never harm Rapunzel or the people she loves again.
  • Gorgeous Garment Generation: Rapunzel uses her magic paintbrush to turn her dress into several different gowns, eventually settling on a glittery pink and purple number.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Rapunzel's masquerade ball gown is mostly purple with pink accents.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Rapunzel is known for her long, golden hair. She is also a sweet, innocent young woman.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: See Karmic Death.
  • Hypocrite: Gothel is furious when she believes Rapunzel is lying to her about not knowing Stefan's name. She conveniently ignores the fact that she herself has been lying to Rapunzel for the girl's entire life.
    • Gothel also often accuses Rapunzel of being ungrateful to her, despite being an Ungrateful Bastard herself.
  • Implacable Man: Gothel's magic makes her pretty much unstoppable, and turns the final battle into just her chasing everyone.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: Subverted. Unlike in the fairy tale, Rapunzel's hair just reaches the floor. That's actually possible in real life, depending on the person's genes. She also keeps it braided so that it's out of the way. And she's only imprisoned in the tower for a day or two, making the maintenance believable.
  • In Name Only: This film bears little resemblance the Brothers Grimm fairy tale by the same name; the plot of the story only appears as a dream sequence here. All it has in common is a girl named Rapunzel who has unusually long hair and a witch who keeps her locked in a tower. The focus of the film is instead on Rapunzel using a magic paintbrush to find out the truth of her origins and escape her abusive guardian.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Gothel says she kidnapped Rapunzel because she would have been her daughter if Wilhelm had married her.
  • Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: Wilhelm's baby daughter is abducted without a trace and he has no idea where she is or if she's even alive for close to twenty years.
  • Irony: After Rapunzel leaves him with some food for thought, Stefan suggests inviting King Wilhelm to a ball as a gesture of peace that might end the feud without any more fighting. Frederick shoots the idea down immediately. However, Wilhelm shows up at the ball anyway—accompanied by armed troops in a surprise attack against Frederick—and the meeting does bring an end to the feud, because Gothel reveals that she is the one who started it by engineering a Let's You and Him Fight scenario.
    • Penelope's father is often disappointed in his daughter for being incompetent as a dragon, both in power and in befriending Rapunzel. But as the story progresses, Penelope's father finds himself less and less a powerful dragon in spirit, due to following Gothel's orders, whereas Penelope herself grows as a person and as a dragon. Towards the climax, it is Penelope's father who is less powerful for being imprisoned by Gothel's magic, while Penelope not only develops her full capacity as a dragon, but also stands up to her father about listening to her.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Penelope's father is extremely stern, but really does love his daughter.
  • Just Friends: Upon recognizing Gothel at the climax, Wilhlem comments that they were friends many years ago. He seems genuinely shocked by her assertion that he was in love with her.
  • Karmic Death: Gothel curses the tower so that no one with a lying heart can ever escape. Rapunzel was honest the whole time, so she is able to leave. When Gothel's tricked into returning to the tower, she is stuck there forever, as she had been lying to everyone throughout the entire movie (for instance, telling Rapunzel that she was abandoned by her parents when she had in fact kidnapped her, or her lies that started the feud in the first place), and had made the spell unbreakable. It's implied she ultimately starves to death.
  • Kick the Dog: Gothel destroying Rapunzel's paintings, and later brush (which was the only thing Rapunzel had left of her parents), as well as reminding her how worthless she is.
    • Gothel confronting King Wilhelm with the truth is framed as this. When she feels spurned by his recalling her as "a friend", it leads to her questioning the source of his hatred towards King Frederick. When Wilhelm once again accuses Frederick, she reveals it was her, basically rubbing it in his face that he's wasted his life blaming the wrong person. And when Wilhelm demands to know where his daughter is, Gothel (assuming her spell has forever imprisoned Rapunzel for her "lying heart") cruelly declares he'll never see her again.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: After Rapunzel tells Stefan not to tell her his name, they go to a silversmith to see if he recognises the work. The silversmith goes to greet Stefan as "Your highness," only for Stefan to quickly sign for him not to behind Rapunzel's back, at which he amends it to "Hi... hi... hi... hello."
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Gothel tries to imprison Rapunzel in the tower forever for her “lying heart” by casting a spell that traps those who lie forever. However, instead, Gothel ends up imprisoned in it forever as it is she who has a real lying heart, not Rapunzel. A fitting punishment for a hypocritical liar.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Rapunzel's hair is braided for most of the film, either in a long braid with her servant dress, or in plaited braids with her masquerade gown. However, during the dream sequence, her braid is completely undone, revealing her hair to be four times longer than it appeared to be.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: Of course, Rapunzel is well known for her extremely long hair, which matches her feminine personality.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Rapunzel is revealed to be the long lost child of King Wilhelm and his wife.
  • Loophole Abuse: See Exact Words above. The loophole in Gothel's spell to never release a prisoner with a lying heart is, naturally, that Rapunzel is not a liar and is thus able to leave.
  • Lovable Coward: Hobie is easily scared of everything, especially Gothel's evil pet weasel, but will stand by Rapunzel when needed.
  • Love at First Sight: Played straight and lampshaded.
    Rapunzel: He was the most handsome man I've ever seen!
    Hobie: And you've seen how many men before?
  • Love Makes You Evil: It turns out that Gothel kidnapped Rapunzel and framed Frederick after Wilhelm broke up with her, later claiming she did it all out of love for him.
  • Masquerade Ball: The film's climax takes place at this event. The "masquerade" part is especially important, as Gothel uses a mask, combined with Rapunzel's cut hair, to fool Stefan.
  • Missing Mom: The mother of Stefan and his four younger siblings is never seen or mentioned.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Hugo decides to help Rapunzel after Gothel chains him up as punishment for his daughter's lack of loyalty to her.
  • Mythology Gag: A possibly unintentional one, but Rapunzel mentions that Gothel told her that her parents abandoned her when she was a baby before Gothel took her in. Although this obviously turns out to be a lie, it was technically true in the original story, where Rapunzel's father gave her to the witch as payment for stealing from her garden.
  • No Ontological Inertia: When Gothel is tricked into being sent back to the tower, all of her spells are broken; specifically the magic wall that hides the tower dispels.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Gothel, as it turns out.
  • Not So Stoic: Gothel rages when she reads the ball invitation.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Rapunzel's hairbrush (which later turns into a paintbrush) is the only thing Rapunzel has left of her biological parents, and Gothel destroys it in a Kick the Dog moment. Somewhat subverted in that her parents are alive and well, and she reunites with them in the end.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Rapunzel considers Prince Stefan the most handsome man she's ever seen. Hobie then hangs a lampshade by asking exactly how many men she's seen before.
  • Parental Abandonment: Averted. Rapunzel grew up believing that Gothel took her in after her parents abandoned her as an infant. However, early in the film, she finds a hairbrush that was a present from her parents on her first birthday, proving they took care of her for at least that long and the story Gothel told her was a lie. Later still, it's revealed that Gothel outright kidnapped Rapunzel and her parents have been searching for her ever since. She finally reunites with them at the end.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Rapunzel uses her paintbrush to turn her plain pink dress into a sparkly lavender and pink gown with gold trim and leg-of-mutton sleeves.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The whole feud between the two kingdoms could've been solved rather easily were it not for this trope. Then again, it's possible that Gothel deliberately planted evidence to make Wilhelm believe that Frederick kidnapped his daughter, or why else would Wilhelm suspect him in the first place? Even so, the war could probably have been avoided if everyone sat down and talked about it rationally. Rapunzel lampshades this after learning about the feud, asking why the kings can't just talk about it.
  • Portal Picture: Is used in place of the hair as the way Rapunzel escapes her tower, and tricks Gothel into trapping herself.
  • Power of Love: Presumably what gives Rapunzel's paintings their magic.
  • Practically Different Generations: Prince Stefan is stated to be almost eighteen years old; his brother and three sisters are clearly under 10
  • Princess Classic: Rapunzel turns out to be one of these.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Rapunzel wears a pink dress as her regular ensemble, though her fancier dress for the masquerade is lavender. It is a tad strange that someone raised as a servant is dressed better than the village peasants, but she may simply be wearing one of Gothel's cast-offs dyed pink.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Though not a story with its own ballet music like Nutcracker or Swan Lake, this is still present in the form of Antonín Dvořák's "From the New World" symphony. The famous Largo accompanies the "let down your hair" sequence, and the climax features fragments of the Allegro con fuoco finale.
  • Rags to Royalty: A Goose Girl example, as Rapunzel was kidnapped as a baby by Gothel and forced into servitude before she finally discovers her true identity.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Prince Stefan, who is implied to have never given the matter much deep thought prior, comes to realize very quickly that the kingdoms' feud is very petty and shows kindness to even his more incompetent soldiers.
    • After realizing Gothel was the root of the kingdoms' feud, Kings Wilhelm and Frederick pretty much declare peace with each other right in Frederick's ballroom. Particularly nice given what we had seen of their hatred earlier in the film, while they were still in the dark.
    • Hugo is a very proud, traditional, and stern dragon father, but comes to realize his daughter exemplifies his ideals in unconventional manners.
  • Redemption Rejection: At the climax, Rapunzel offers to forgive Gothel for everything she's done and start over. Gothel is having none of it.
  • Removed from the Picture: While looking around in Gothel's secret underground room, Rapunzel and her friends find a portrait of a young Gothel with a man whose face has been slashed out. It's Foreshadowing of why Gothel kidnapped Rapunzel to begin with, as that man was Rapunzel's father, Wilhelm.
  • Rescue Romance: Rapunzel saves Stefan's little sister from falling into a pit trap, only to nearly fall in herself; Stefan catches her in the nick of time.
  • Stern Chase: Gothel's magic makes her pretty much unstoppable, and turns the final battle into just her chasing everyone.
  • Stock Sound Effects: While two of Stefan's guards are looking for Rapunzel's tower in the forest, the growling of a Tyrannosaurus Rex from Jurassic Park can be heard, most likely uttered by Hugo, Penelope's father. Another one is heard at the very beginning, when the camera passes through the forest.
  • Taken for Granite: The PC video game involves Stefan being turned to stone, with Rapunzel having to save him.
  • Transformation Sequence: Rapunzel has several of these as she paints her dresses with the magic paintbrush.
  • Traumatic Haircut: As per the original fairy tale. Gothel slices Rapunzel's hair off with magic so she can disguise herself as Rapunzel at the ball. Somewhat softened by the fact that Rapunzel's remaining hair still falls past her shoulders and it's grown completely back by the epilogue.
  • "Well Done, Daughter" Girl: Hugo is hardly the nicest father, and has high expectations for Penelope to grow into a mighty dragon. He gets better in the end.
    Hoby: Does he ever smile?
    Penelope: Not around me.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Penelope hates bugs.
  • Wicked Witch: Gothel, albeit a more glamorous one. She can use her powers to cast spells, and tries to kill multiple people with them at the climax.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Just the wig, in this case. Gothel pins Rapunzel's chopped-off hair over her own and attends the masquerade ball in her place, knowing Rapunzel's suitor will pick out the distinctive hairstyle and reveal himself to her. It works like a charm, at which point Gothel lures Stefan away from the gathering and tries to kill him.
  • Woman Scorned: Gothel. She believed King Wilhelm was in love with her, but he never thought of her as more than a friend. When he married another woman and had a child with her, Gothel kidnapped the baby Rapunzel to make him suffer.
  • Would Rather Suffer: Implied. When Rapunzel and her friends first discover the portal out of her tower, she's curious to see where it leads. Hobbie worries that if she goes through, it's possible she could end up a "paint blob". To this, Rapunzel soberly remarks that taking a risk would be a better fate than remaining Gothel's prisoner forever.
  • World-Wrecking Wave: In the PC game, Gothel casts a spell from her tower that instantly wrecks the castle and turns the Prince to stone.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Gothel scares away the princesses with her magic and tries to kill Tommy.
  • You Monster!: King Wilhelm screams this at Gothel when she reveals that she was the one who kidnapped Rapunzel.

Love and imagination can change the world.


Video Example(s):


Barbie as Rapunzel

Rapunzel uses her magic paintbrush to make fancy dresses for Prince Stefan's masked ball.

How well does it match the trope?

4.33 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / PimpedOutDress

Media sources: