Nathan Greno, Byron Howard


“Tangled”, a rework of the old Rapunzel yarn, may be one of Disney’s most expensive films, but it’s also one of their best. Moviehole spoke to the film’s directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard about their hearty, hairy tale.

I understand that animated movies take a while to put together….

Byron : Nathan and I started on this movie about two years ago. We were aware of previous takes on the story but we really did want to start with a blank page. We wanted to build a movie from the inside out. It’s different times now too, so we wanted to make this Rapunzel amass with girl power – she’s a real take charge kinda girl.

Nathan : Everybody knows there’s the girl in the tower with the long hair and….that’s about all anybody knows of it. Besides the iconic imagery, it was open and available to us to explore that world and turn it into a big film. Interestingly enough, a Rapunzel movie has been on Disney’s list of potential movies to make since the 1940’s; Walt Disney had written it down as a possibility. The first thing we did was we came up with a story that would see Rapunzel get out of that tower. Byron and I love big action-packed movies and we also love big rousing emotional rides so we decided we’d try and combine both of those things by just widening the scope here.

And was 3D always on the cards?

Nathan : From the get-go the studio had expressed interest in making it a 3D film, but Byron and I didn’t automatically agree to it. Like everyone, we’ve walked out of a few 3D films lately and been a bit disappointed by what we’ve seen; I’ll admit to even saying to myself ‘Why in the world did I just pay the extra money to see that in 3D!? It didn’t give me any more bang for my buck at all!’. So many of the current crop of 3D films don’t enhance the movie at all. That was something we took very seriously so if we were going to be using 3D it had to be there for a reason – it had to enhance our movie. When we agreed that Tangled was going to be in 3D, we also decided to take it as seriously as the story itself – both need to work as equally well as each other. We went to great lengths to make sure the 3D looked good and worked – every shot we did, even story choices we’d make, we’d have to ask ourselves ‘well what’s that going to look like in 3D? How’s that gonna work?’

Of all the films released in 3D this year, it’s the animated ones – “Tangled”, “How to Train Your Dragon” etc – that look the best. Why is that?

Nathan : Part of the reason is because, in animation, we’re very aware of our composing shots – we’re forced to make choices to strip away detail, we have to work on skin tones and so on – whereas in live action you’ve got a lot more detail, there’s too many visual things fighting for your attention. There’s something better than reality about animation.

The film has now passed the $150m in the states, are Disney asking for a sequel now?

Nathan : [John] Lasseter’s (the head of Disney Animation) rule is that we don’t do sequels unless there’s really a strong story. We don’t do sequels just because the first film did really well at the box office. That said, one day I may sit down with the guys and we may come up with a great story about Rapunzel and this world that we created that we have to tell, and we will definitely do it. So we will see. We’re just happy that people seem to be enjoying this one. It’s strange for us, we’ve been living with these characters for two to three years, so they’re real to us, but now our job is done and they’ve been let loose upon the world. Hopefully we will see those guys again sometime though.

“Tangled” commences Thursday across Australia