There’s Still a Chance to Save Her …

Art, Media

Final Cass Raps Pic 2

This blog post will explain the artistic reasoning behind every detail for the picture above. For those who don’t know, the picture is in reference to Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure – a Disney channel show whose final episode will air on March 1st. If you have not seen the show, the first two seasons are on Disney Plus and are definitely worth a viewing. You will not be disappointed.

As you can tell by the title, the picture is called There’s Still a Chance to Save Her – a line from the episode Be Very Afraid. An alternative title is The Fight for Cassandra’s Soul.

I found inspiration for the picture from not only the show but also from a song called Illusion by VNV Nation. Particularly the first verse and chorus. The chorus goes,

Please don’t go, I want you to stay

I’m begging you please – please don’t leave here

I don’t want you to hate for all the hurt you feel

The world is just an illusion, always trying to change you

Here is the link to the song if you’d like to give it a listen:

And now, to explore each detail in the picture and why I chose to do what I did. Let’s begin with the characters themselves.

Cass

Cassandra has her back turned on Rapunzel, Eugene and Corona. Cass has left this old but good life behind and is refusing to look back. Cassandra is standing in a very stiff position – her back is arched, her shoulders raised, and her arms pinned to her side. This is to show Cassandra’s determination to continue in the new path that she has forged for herself.

Cass close up

However,  her compressed lips and – most importantly, her tears – question her resolve. They betray her conflicted feelings. While it appears she has fully committed to the darkness of her soul, her conscience is still alive, whispering to her the wrongness – and guilt – of her actions.

Cass is also holding Shadow Blade, a sword that was forged from the Black Rocks. Cassandra uses this weapon to cut the bridge between herself and Rapunzel – doing to Rapunzel what her own mother did to her (we’ll get to that later). The cutting of the bridge signifies Cassandra removing Rapunzel out of her life forever.

Rapunzel

Rapunzel, with tears in her eyes, is leaning forward and her hand outstretched, pleading for Cassandra to come home. I purposefully placed Rapunzel on the edge of the bridge. This signifies that Raps is trying to reach for Cassandra as far as humanly possible but if she takes one more step, she, too, may suffer the same fate as her friend. Rapunzel is being anchored by Eugene, both physically and emotionally – being there for Raps when she needs him the most.

In Rapunzel’s outstretched hand, she is wearing the friendship bracelets she made for herself and Cass. These bracelets made their first appearance in the episode Beginnings where we learn how she and Cassandra became good friends. The bracelets emphasize Rapunzel’s outstretched hand; the invitation that, despite what has happened, her sister-like love is still intact – Cass must only accept.

Rapunzel is also wearing the purse Cassandra gave her as a token of friendship in a flashback in the episode Rapunzel and the Great Tree. There is no major significance to this, but I thought it would be a nice nod to another moment in their relationship.

Flynn

As stated previously, Eugene is holding Rapunzel’s hand, being there for her. However, Eugene’s focus is on Cassandra and not Rapunzel. Eugene, though he once despised Cass, is greatly concerned for his friend. I consider Eugene’s relationship with Cass to be like a little-sister-big-brother. They are frenemies but will do anything to keep the other from being harmed.

Final Cass Raps Pic 2

The background portrays two different worlds – two different worldviews. Cassandra stands in the Dark Kingdom where the Moonstone originally fell.  The lighting of the Dark Kingdom – as well as its name – represents an evil, fearful, and dangerous world. The further you go in, the harder it is to return. Rapunzel is pleading with Cassandra from the brightly lit Corona. The lighting of the kingdom represents the goodness and safety of the side Rapunzel stands on.

red rocks

In the background, on Cassandra’s side, we not only see the Black Rocks but also the Red Rocks. In the episode Be Very Afraid, the Red Rocks pop up because of Cassandra’s fear of having to potentially killing Rapunzel. The Red Rocks spread and soon infect the inhabitants of Corona until it was resolved by Rapunzel and Varian. I briefly thought about adding the Red Rocks to Rapunzel’s side as a nod to the episode and to represent Corona’s own fears. However, I decided against it. It would mess with the aurora of Corona and what it stands for. By leaving the Red Rocks solely in the Dark Kingdom, it emphasizes Cassandra’s conflicted feelings.

enchanted girl

We see the Enchanted Girl evilly smirking in the background – happy to see her new pupil doing exactly what she wants. We first hear her voice in Rapunzeltopia but finally see her in Rapunzel’s Return. In the show, the Enchanted Girl strokes Cassandra fears and insecurities. While appearing to sympathetic towards Cass, she manipulates Cassandra’s insecurities against Rapunzel. The Enchanted Girl, in a way, represents the selfish, dark side of Cassandra. Cass listens to the Enchanted Girl’s twisted truths for several reasons: she’s hurt, tired of not being understood or seen, and impatient for her time to come. Cassandra’s position is sympathetic but not right. Therefore, I included the Enchanted Girl who is a warning and an affirmation to Cassandra and her journey. It serves as a warning to us as well. If we’re not careful, we too can end up the same way – listening to our fears and insecurities and acting on them in a selfish, hurtful way. We must be very purposeful to not be this way – especially when we think our soul isn’t in any danger. Cass thought – perhaps, thinks – the same.

torn picture

In front of Cassandra, we see a torn picture of Rapunzel and Cassandra. Rapunzel had painted it, I assume, on their way to the Dark Kingdom. It is perfectly ripped right between them – a symbolism of a friendship rendered apart. In the very last scene of Beginnings, Cass tears this picture in anger towards Rapunzel, seemingly to confirm a sisterhood lost. I added the torn picture to add to the sense of Cassandra’s downward spiral.

music box

               Just below Cassandra, we see a broken music box. It made its appearance in Rapunzel’s Return. In that episode, we learn about the circumstances of Cassandra’s adoption. Cassandra is Mother Gothel’s biological daughter. When Cass was four, she had a music box that she adored listening to which, incidentally, plays the melody of Waiting in the Wings – a song where Cassandra sings of her desire to be finally seen for her talents. Young Cass sings a heartbreaking reprise of Waiting in the Wings. Here’s a snippet of it:

“Mother knows how much I love her,

But she’s always doing other things,

So I’ll keep waiting in the wings,

I crave so much and yet I kept on waiting,

One glance, one touch,

And still I kept on waiting,

And when it came, it came with strings,

So I kept on waiting in the wings.”

               On the night Gothel kidnaps Rapunzel, she abandons Cassandra. What makes it worse is that four-year old Cassandra watched helplessly as her mother cut the cottage bridge, hop on a horse, and didn’t even look back. Young Cass dropped the music box and it broke in unison with her heart. The Captain of the Guard, who was present when this all happened, adopted Cass on the spot but even that cannot fully remedy what Gothel did to her. The broken music box represents Cassandra’s broken early childhood and her insecurities.

picture

On Rapunzel’s side, we see a picture of Cassandra and Rapunzel together. We see Eugene in it as well but its torn. It was probably done by Cass when she absolutely despised Eugene. I, personally, find that absolutely hilarious. The picture made its first appearance sometime in the first seasons. It periodically reappears throughout the show. This symbolizes the friends, her dad, and the life Cassandra chose to leave behind. However, there still is hope for her. She still has a chance to go back home – she just needs to accept Rapunzel’s offer.

Anyway, those were my artistic reasons. I created this artwork in Corel Painter; the first time I’ve ever used it. I hope you liked it! Let me know if you remember when the picture of Rapunzel and Cassandra made its first appearance. 😉

 

A Mighty Fortress That Still Stands

Media, Serious

a mighty fortressLyrical works never last. After a decade or so, they often fade into oblivion due to the new trendy style of the next generation. The Beatles music has made an impressive run but has yet to be truly tested by time. A couple of band members are still alive and so are many of the people who popularized them as teenagers. The Beatles will surely go down in history, but will their songs still be sung in the generations to come?

            There is one song, however, that has carried through generations, languages, and cultures. To this day, it is popular in this country but was born centuries before the United States of America drew her first breath. A Mighty Fortress still touches the hearts, minds and souls of the world today.

            A Mighty Fortress was penned by Martin Luther – a former monk and the most influential leader of the Reformation. The song was written in the upbeat German folk-style of the 1520s. Originally written in Luther’s Germanic tongue, the hymn was translated many times into English. The most popular translation was provided by Frederick Henry Hedge in 1853. It is unknown when exactly Luther wrote A Mighty Fortress, but it is commonly agreed that he wrote it between 1527 and 1529.  It made its first appearance in the printing of Form und ordnung Gaystlicher Gesang und Psalmen, which was published in 1529. It is theorized to have been written in that same year. However, Louis F. Benson states in his book, A Study of Familiar Hymns, that, “…Scherer, the recent historian of German Literature, states with entire confidence that the hymn was written in October, 1527, at the approach of the plague. Luther’s biographer, Julius Kostiln, in the later editions of the Life, accepts this date as probably correct” (Benson 158).

            It is believed that Luther wrote this hymn in his darkest hour: a plague was coming, Luther’s health was precarious, and a friend of his was martyred. Luther took great comfort in Psalm 46 and so was inspired to write A Mighty Fortress. The inspiration is crystal clear as Psalm 46 begins with, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” A Mighty Fortress opens similarly with, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.” Some consider the hymn to be a metrical paraphrase of the psalm. While there are many similarities, the hymn does deviate from the psalm and in doing so becomes its own.

            The hymn is delightfully poetic. The rhyming is rich, and nothing is forced. Each verse flows seamlessly to the next, first stating the helpfulness and mighty power of God before delving into the cruel strength of Satan. One example of Luther’s extraordinary songwriting skills is in the third stanza, where it says,

“And though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us

We will not fear for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him

 His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure

One little Word shall fell him.”

            Benson considered A Mighty Fortress to be, “An imperishable hymn! not polished and artistically wrought but rugged and strong like Luther himself, whose very words seem like deeds” (Benson 160).

            The melody is generally upbeat and jovial but has the unique gift of conforming to the emotion of any verse. For instance, there is a hint of sadness to the line, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.” However, the tune picks up again at the end with, “His (God’s) Kingdom is forever,” where it becomes firmer, more confident. Lutherans traditionally play the hymn on an organ or, if finances permit, a pipe organ. This type of instrumentation gives the song more power, further amplifying the power of God and the comfort that is drawn from that.

            The hymn clearly rings with its message of God’s sovereignty and help in troubling times. The song is encouraging in the way it tells its listeners that their strength is not enough but they can rest in God’s arms while He fights the battle they could not hope to win themselves. Satan, though evil and powerful, cannot stand against the might of God. The music boosts this emotion – the melody swelling up with joy at the mention of God’s strength and care but softening when realizing the difficulties of life. The brilliant blend of music and words evoke a series of emotions: comfort, elation, and peace. These emotions lead the listeners into a serene but joyful mood.

            While the hymn is not known for its pioneering ways in the musical world, it is famous for its historical role in the Reformation and Protestant Germany. Protestants found solace in it and so clung to it while being persecuted. Benson states, “It was sung in the streets; and, so heard, comforted the hearts of Melchanthon, Jonas, and Cruciger, as they entered Weimar, when banished from Wittenberg in 1547. It was sung by poor Protestant emigrants on their way into exile, and by martyrs at their death” (Benson 159).

Germany eventually grasped the hymn as well – as a source of comradery. C. Michael Hawn writes in his article History of Hymns: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”: “Often called ‘the true National Hymn of Germany,’ the hymn spread rapidly and was sung on the battlefield of Leipzig in 1631 during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Heinrich Heine, the famous nineteenth-century German poet, called it ‘the Marseillaise Hymn of the Reformation’” (Hawn).

             Benson wrote that A Mighty Fortress “is dear still to the German people; one of the hymns lodged in their memories and hearts, ready for the occasion” (Benson 160).

            Luther’s much beloved hymn is nearly five hundred years old – a remarkable stand against time. It has skipped across oceans and languages, assuring millions of God’s loving care in trying times. The hymn is still sung in thousands of churches today, not only in Protestant churches but even Catholic ones as well. It touches the souls of both the elderly and the young and it is dearly loved by them. Perhaps one of the reasons for the hymn’s long life is that it sings of God’s eternal assurances – a reminder that is needed throughout life. Sometimes it can feel as though we are children again, petrified and sorrowful at the trials life has set before us. The song gives a sense of God’s fatherly touch on our shoulders, saying, “It’s okay. I’ve got you.”

            And nothing is more comforting than that.

Of Money and Happiness

Media, Serious

money happiness

           The Pearl by John Steinbeck vividly illustrates why money doesn’t necessarily make a person’s life better. Kino and his family, the stars of the novella, find a massive pearl. This glorious discovery turns out to be worth an astonishing amount of money. At first, this appears to be a blessing, but as the story progresses, it becomes more of a curse. Kino, his wife, Juana, and their baby boy, Coyotito, are constantly under attack by mysterious forces. A doctor makes Coyotito sick just so he can treat him for money. A priest encourages Kino to give to the church, but he just wants the donation for himself. The attacks on Kino and his family grow to a point that some ne’er-do-well sets their family home on fire. The most tragic event though is yet to come. Kino and Juana’s beloved Coyotito – innocent and helpless – dies from a gunshot wound to the head as a result of man’s greed.

          There are some who think increased finances will bring luxury and ease, and so bring fulfillment to their lives. But if we take a glimpse at humanity, we can observe that this is a false ideology. The New York Daily News and the Daily Mail wrote a list of people who had won the lottery and described how their lives became worse once money was dumped in their laps. New York Daily News wrote about one man, saying, “(Urooj Khan) The 46-year-old Chicagoan dropped dead the day after he won $1 million in 2012. An autopsy revealed that Khan died of cyanide poisoning. Both his sister-in-law and her father were suspected to be involved in his death but no one was ever charged.”

            Daily Mail wrote about one kind man, Billie Bob Harrell, who used his winnings to support his family and gave generously to those less fortunate. However, Daily Mail states that, “His reputation for generosity caught up with him and he and his family had to move to avoid strangers coming to their home to ask for money … Harrell and his wife divorced and in May 1999, just two years after he won, he shot himself.”

            Winners of the lottery are not the only ones to find that money does not bring happiness. Celebrities have this issue as well. Think For Yourself put together a video of various celebrities telling their personal story about how fame and money didn’t bring happiness. Lady Gaga stated she almost quit music because she wasn’t happy. Eric Clapton said, “I was a millionaire, I had beautiful women in my life, I had cars, a house, a solid, gold career – a future. And yet, on a daily basis, I wanted to commit suicide.”

            John Lennon also said, “As a Beatle, we made it and there was nothing to do. We had money; we had fame – and there was no joy.”

            Alanis Morissete said, “You know, I thought all would be helped and healed and soothed by fame. I will be less lonely, and I will be understood, and I will be loved, and that love will go in and heal any of the broken parts … And then I came to see that it was actually quite isolating.”

           People often look to material things, whether it be money, drugs, or alcohol to satisfy their spiritual life – but it only to intensifies their sense of emptiness. These celebrities and various lottery winners can testify together that money cannot bring peace and joy to your soul. Humans need more than finances, happiness or even love. We need a purpose – one that’s beyond ourselves. It cannot be just a personal goal, for once that goal is reached, men and women tend to ponder if there is anything more to life and so fall into a deep depression.

            However, if we find the purpose that is more and bigger than us and pursue to accomplish that mission to the best of our abilities, we shall always have a sense of meaning in our life. The soul cannot feel complete until its God-sized hole is filled with God Himself.

An Essay on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Media, Serious

mr. smith           “Somebody’ll listen to me! Some …” This desperate yet strangely confident plea was the last Jefferson Smith spoke before he collapsed from sheer exhaustion. His plea was not so much to the Senate – even though he was speaking before them – but to the people of America. Would Smith’s heartfelt, passionate speech be heard outside the walls of the Senate despite the newspaper’s best efforts for his voice not to be heard? Would the people even bother to try and listen?

              Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a film about heroism but of a more regular sort: Jeff – the hero – has no cape, no superpowers, no special training. He is a regular, honest, decent man trying to live up to his ideals in a corrupted environment. He would find, like most of us trying to wade through this world, that living up to a high moral standard without compromising can be more difficult than anticipated.

              Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a political comedy-drama tale with humble beginnings. Columbia Pictures, a small but growing studio at the time, bought an unpublished story by Lewis R. Foster called The Gentleman from Montana. Frank Capra was brought on as director to bring this story to life on the silver screen. The film was initially meant to be a sequel to Capra’s 1936 film, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. However, once it was realized that Gary Cooper could not reprise his role as Mr. Deeds, the sequel idea was scrapped. Capra then called upon the services of an actor he had previously worked, James Stewart.

James Stewart was born in Pennsylvania in 1908. Shy and a bit awkward, Stewart began his career on Broadway before getting into Hollywood. Impressed by Stewart’s small role in the movie Navy Blue and Gold, Frank Capra hired Stewart to star in his film, You Can’t Take It with You. A year later, Stewart starred in Frank Capra’s next film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. As a result, Stewart was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards but lost to Robert Donat in Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

          By Stewart’s side in Mr. Smith was Jean Arthur. Born in New York in 1900, Arthur began working in the film industry in the early 1920s. Even though she shunned media attention, Arthur began to grow in popularity. Her career took off when she starred in Frank Capra’s film, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Three years later, she starred as the cynical, funny, and loveable Clarissa Saunders in Mr. Smith.

            Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is about a newly appointed young senator, Jefferson Smith, who accidentally comes head on with a corrupt political machine run by major newspaperman, Jim Taylor. Taylor tries corrupting Smith but to no avail. When Smith is about to bring Taylor and his cronies out to the open before the Senate, Jeff’s fellow senator and idol, Joseph Paine, stands up and falsely accuses Jeff of the very things Taylor is doing. An investigation ensues, and the fraudulent evidence looks convincing. Discouraged, Jeff is about to leave town when his former secretary, Saunders, encourages him and reminds him of the ideals he had taught her. After some intense coaching from Saunders, Jeff prepares to give his final speech to the Senate – and hopes that someone will listen to him with open ears.

            Mr. Smith’s plot may be predictable for the most part, but the ending is slightly different than one may anticipate. Every character has a strong sense of believability with each serving a specific purpose. Jeff is the person the audience aspires to be – honest, respectful, and filled with child-like wonder. However, Jeff is not perfect, which aides in the character’s believability. Joseph Paine serves as a warning to the audience. A man once much like Jeff, Paine compromised years ago and lost most of his integrity in the process. Saunders is the character the audience is most like. While not quite as far gone as Paine, she uses deception when it’s to her advantage. She’s cynical but has sympathy, and a hint of admiration, for a man like Jeff. He inadvertently teaches Saunders how to live again.

One can’t find a flaw in any actor’s execution of their character. James Stewart’s delivery of the passionate, stern speech to the Senate was so inspiring and thoughtful. Stewart ability to portray Jeff’s nervousness when proposing his bill was another stroke of acting brilliance. Not only did Stewart look the part of Smith with his handsome, boyish looks but, most impressively, he was Jeff. A real-life example of this would be what Stewart did after filming Mr. Smith. Cinema Blend stated in their review, “Shortly after he (Stewart) finished filming … he was flying missions over Germany in WWII — and that only happened because he managed to talk a recruitment officer into to throwing away his physical, which initially rejected him because he was too skinny” (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Review”).

Jean Arthur was also as equally convincing in her role. From her teaching Jeff how a bill becomes a law to her zinger one-liners, she’s the one who often brings the comedy. Her delivery is superb. Even her encouraging talk to Jeff near the end of the movie was incredibly well-done.

Overall, the movie is simply made but its themes are not. Integrity was at the forefront with gratitude following close behind. There were various degrees of integrity in the film. Jim Taylor completely lost his integrity and his humanity. Joseph Paine lost most of his integrity but his conscience pricks, however slight, at him for every lie. Clarissa Saunders has some integrity, but cynicism has jaded it. Jeff has integrity so ingrained in his soul that he could be the very definition of it. Jeff doesn’t budge when threatened or offered a bribery. Jeff is also the only main character with a sense of gratitude and appreciation for his country and for life itself. Taylor, obviously, had neither and cared only for his own self-gain. Paine and Saunders lost it after years in the hubbub of Washington chipped it away.

           Mr. Smith is as relevant today as it was eighty years ago. Despite the portrayal of a corrupted set of senators, the film is quite patriotic. The montage of Jeff walking through the sights of Washington gives you a sense of pride for America and all she has accomplished. Especially so when Jeff walks into the Lincoln Memorial and sees a young boy reading the words of Lincoln to his grandfather while an African American man emotionally watches on. Jeff’s eloquent statement to his secretary, “Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders,” is a sentiment I couldn’t agree with more.

How the film portrays the media and the gullibility of the people bears striking resemblance to how things are today – and it’s worse now. The media, like Taylor in the movie, tells us how to think, what to think, how to feel, what the truth is – and we’re stupid enough to believe every word. And, more alarmingly, we believe what we want without evidence to back it up. In the movie, as soon as Paine accused Jeff of wrongdoing, the crowd in the Senate immediately began booing Jeff, already deciding he was guilty. People do this today and to a far worse degree. Upon hearing an accusation, people often decide someone is guilty and deserves swift punishment even though no actual evidence was given.

The portrayed corruption in the Senate in the movie is also quite fascinating. This aspect was considered controversial – both at home and abroad. Paul Tatara from TCM (Turner Classic Movies) stated in his review that, “Several politicians angrily spoke out against the film in newspaper editorials …. Sen. Alben W. Barkley viewed the picture as “a grotesque distortion” of the Senate” (Tatara, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington: The Essentials”).

Cinnema Blend noted that, “When the ban on English and American films was made in Nazi occupied France in 1942, the film the theatres picked for their last movie was Mr. Smith Goes to Washington — one particularly patriotic theatre owner reportedly screening the film for 30 consecutive days prior to the ban” (“Mr. Smith Goes To Washington: Review”).

Even though it was controversial at the time, it was depicted correctly. Government today is more corrupted than ever before. One might think that Mr. Smith is for the politicians. I would say that it is for the American voters. We often bemoan the lack of honesty in our government and how little they care about integrity. If we wish to fix this, we must first look at ourselves. We vote the politicians into office. If we care about integrity and honesty, shouldn’t we vote out the dishonest ones and seek new candidates? To change the outlook of our government, we must first change the culture. If we don’t care about integrity and don’t live honestly, why should we expect the politicians to? People often say they love their neighbor, but they don’t. They say they are tolerant, but they are not. Words without the actions to back them up are empty. It is no credit to any of us if we solely love and tolerate people we agree with.

And so, I highly recommend this movie to everyone. It’s a thought-provoking film that will also make you laugh. A rare find these days. Once we finished watching the film, perhaps we can be on a look out for a Jefferson Smith in our country. How will we know if we find him? If his actions back up his words. If he refuses to back down for integrity reasons and not for political ones.

 

 

                                                                      Works Cited

Tatara, Paul. “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington: The Essentials.” Turner Classic Movies.

                          Movie Review Query Engine. Ozark Technical Community College Library, Springfield MO. 22 October, 2019. Web.

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Review.” Cinnema Blend.

                               Movie Review Query Engine. Ozark Technical Community College Library, Springfield MO. 22 October, 2019. Web.

What Causes Someone To Turn Evil?

Media, Serious

headerWhat causes someone to turn evil? The writers of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars and Cassandra in Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure had to ask themselves this complex question when creating their characters’ life journeys. Both characters were to begin their quests as heroes but cross the finish line as villains. The writers’ goals were to have you sympathize with the characters and understand why they turned evil. But Anakin’s character arc spectacularly fails whereas Cassandra’s triumphs. Why is this? It is due to these three major differences between them: the subtlety of their arcs, the realism of characters around them, and the relatability of their desires.

            From the get-go, Anakin’s story is dramatic. He was born a slave and had no father. He was separated as a child from his mother. She later dies in his arms – murdered. He lashes out by slaughtering the village of the people who were responsible – including the women and the children. Years later, Anakin feels as though the peace-keeping warriors he’s working with don’t trust him. He’s passed up for a promotion and is excluded from an important mission. He fears the deaths of his loved ones. In the end, he turns to the Dark Side, enticed by the promise of recognition and safety of his family. He begins by murdering his former comrades and their pupils – even killing dozens of children. Anakin’s arc has no subtlety and reeks of tragedy and drama.

            Cassandra’s arc, however, is subtle. Her beginnings are sad, but not tragic. She was adopted as a baby by a single man. She never had a mother. She helps her friend, Princess Rapunzel, on her quest to find a powerful object called the Moonstone. A member is added to the traveling party and Cassandra feels this person is squeezing her out of her rightful role. Rapunzel begins to repeatedly ignore Cassandra’s advice, even resulting in Cassandra’s hand being accidently burned and becoming permanently damaged. Cassandra feels overlooked and a bit ignored but pushes on as if none of it bothers her. When they arrive at their destination, Rapunzel reaches out to grab the Moonstone, but Cassandra snatches it away from her. She taunts Rapunzel by telling her, “I tried to warn you, Rapunzel. Be careful of who you trust.” The journey of Cassandra’s character is a soft, sympathetic one, so subtle that viewers were shocked but not surprised when Cassandra betrayed Rapunzel.

            The other difference between Anakin and Cassandra is the ability to understand the perspectives of the other characters in their respective stories. In Anakin’s narrative, we don’t understand the Jedi Council. According to Jedi regulations, attachments and possessions were forbidden. They believed that the potential fear of loss and jealousy could lead to the Dark Side. However, it is humanly impossible to not have any attachments or possessions, regardless of how meager the belongings may be. It is strange that the Jedi, previously depicted as upright and wise, would have these two outlandish rules with such vague explanations. Anakin and the Jedi both appear to be unreasonable.

            In Cassandra’s story, though, we see something quite different. We get why there was tension between Rapunzel and Cassandra. We can more easily sympathize with Cassandra, but we don’t think any less of Rapunzel. We understood the decisions Rapunzel made even though we may have done things differently. Writers tend to make the good guys look bad for a time, thinking that it’ll more easily explain why the affected character turned evil. In Cassandra’s journey though, the writers made it so that neither Cassandra nor Rapunzel appear unreasonable. This is extremely rare.

            Anakin’s desires are also quite different from Cassandra’s. Like most villains, Anakin lusts for power – over the galaxy and death itself. After his mother died, he vowed he would find a way to keep people from dying. This feeling was intensified after he began having visions of his wife dying in childbirth. He desired to put himself in God’s place.

            Cassandra is ambitious but not power hungry. She never once wanted Rapunzel’s title. Cassandra merely wishes to be the Captain of the Guard someday – just like her father. Cassandra knows her talents far exceed that of being a lady in waiting. She’s craving for a moment to shine but feels as though she’s being unfairly overlooked. Every time there’s a chance she’ll finally get her moment, it always ends up being someone else. So, Cassandra waits – until she runs out of patience. She takes it upon herself to snatch what she believes to be rightfully hers: the Moonstone.

            Putting this all together, Cassandra’s story is far and away more relatable than Anakin’s. Her arc is less dramatic, we understand both her and Rapunzel, and her desires are only human. Everyone wishes to shine at some point in his or hers lives, but not everyone wants ultimate power. Anakin’s personal life swirled with soap opera drama; Cassandra’s own tale had normal life problems. Cassandra, as an ordinary human with common yearnings, can be taken as a stern warning to all of us. What started Cassandra on her path to villainy were just normal human desires. Therefore, we all have the capability of becoming just like Cassandra. Selfishness is a deadly sin. It is often the root of our malevolent actions. So, watch out and be wary: your soul can slowly dissolve away before you realize it.

Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure: A Review

Media

I finally started to see the series a couple of months ago. I had seen the first special and the first episode a long time ago but hadn’t been able to see the rest of the show yet. Now that I’ve seen pretty much all of it, I’ll give my opinion on it. I’ll divide my opinions into two different category’s. Pros and Cons. At the end, I’ll let you know whether or not I love it, like it, indifferent to it, or hate it. I’m sure you’ll be able to guess how I feel before then though. 😉 Here it goes:

PROS

THE OVERLYING PLOT/WRITING

I applaud Shane Prigmore and Chris Sonnenburg for the fore thought and planning they have done for this show. Most of the time, when Disney gives a movie its own TV show, the series tends to be lacking. To fair, it is usually meant for a very young audience. But it’s still nice to see a lot of forward thinking, foreshadowing, and planning involved with this.

If it is true that the series was completely planned out from the get-go, you can really tell. The main overall plot of the show involves the Black Rocks and it’s introduced from the beginning. Not every episode revolves around or even speaks about the Black Rocks. This a good thing. It slowly builds up complexity and intrigue up until the Season 2 Finale. In fact, there’s still a ton of questions since the characters are still in the dark about certain things and thus so are we. When the show isn’t revealing more on the Black Rocks, we get character development for Rapunzel, Eugene and Cassandra. And, more importantly, their relationship with each other.

*MAJOR, MAJOR SPOILER* Straining Cassandra and Rapunzel’s relationship a few episodes before Destinies Collide – the Season 2 Finale – was another great move. The friendship was understandably strained. There wasn’t anything stupid about it even though I hold unto the fact that Cass was more in the right then Rapunzel.

CASSANDRA AND EUGENE’S PLATONIC RELATIONSHIP

One of my favorite things about the show is the relationship between Cass and Eugene. There are characteristics about each other they find annoying but in the end they do love each other. They do argue and insult one another but it’s not over the top and usually it’s fun. It feels much like a realistic older brother-younger sister type of relationship. Frenemies, really.

It’s well-written, well-performed and funny.

THE VOICE ACTORS

Mandy Moore (Rapunzel), Zachary Levi (Eugene), Eden Espinosa (Cassandra) and Jeremy Jordan (Varian) do absolutely amazing jobs. An honorable mention goes to James Monroe Iglehart (Lance).

Mandy Moore really elevates Rapunzel even though the writing can be lacking at times (more on that later). Jeremy Jordan also elevates Varian. When he was pleading for Rapunzel’s help for his dad, you couldn’t help but feel an overflow of sympathy. The acting pushed the emotions just right – not tamed but not overdone.

But a well-deserved, massive applause to Zachary Levi’s Eugene with a close second to Eden Espinosa’s Cassandra. Levi’s depiction of Eugene is unmatched. He adds energy and colors to his lines – even to the normal ones. Yes, Levi gets a lot of well-written material, but I just can’t imagine anyone else doing Eugene Fitzherbert.

Espinosa should get tons of credit too. She also gets well-written material but she performs the character with such heart and emotion. She does a superb job. This actress deserves more attention in her career.

Espinosa and Levi are especially fun to listen to when they are together. One of the best scenes they did was when Eugene was asking Cass questions to learn more about her when they were locked in a cell together. This was when Rapunzel locked them in there in hopes of forcing them to get along better (Cassandra vs. Eugene). Their performance of Eugene and Cassandra being frenemies really sells. The funniest moments often come when those two are bickering.

THE ANIMATION

Can I just say the animation is so pleasing to watch? It’s very charming. The animators do a tremendous job. One of my favorite scenes – the voice acting and animation combined – came from Pascal’s Story. I’ll just post a link here. You’re welcome.

The animation of the show is just … amazing. The animation really brings the characters to life. Every expression matters and feels right according to each character.

CONS

RAPUNZEL’S PERSONALITY SUFFERS

Don’t get me wrong. I love Rapunzel. She has some great moments in the show. But I feel like she’s slightly different here then in the movie. The dialogue, not Mandy Moore, sometimes comes across a little Twilight Sparkle-y. In other words, she’s almost always telling everyone what they have learned or should learn. She’s a little too perfect at times.

Every now and then, Rapunzel feels a bit like a Mary Sue. She especially came across that way in Challenge of the Brave. There’s no way Rapunzel should’ve been able to compete with Cassandra or any of them for that matter. Sure, Rapunzel’s probably been getting some training but she wouldn’t have gotten far yet. It takes time to develop fighting instincts and hone your abilities. Cassandra had been training her whole life.

SHORTY

This is a minor one but I find this character’s existence annoying. I think he’s meant to be comedic relief but he’s not. That’s the only explanation I can think of for his supporting character role in Season 2. The constant drunk grates on my soul. I wish they’d punt him out of the series.

THE “I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF” THEME

I have no problem with Rapunzel having mad defensive skills – especially later on when she would’ve had more training. I have no problem with her being smart and leading an expedition. My problem is when she states, “I don’t need someone keep me safe.”

We see this again when her dad, who thinks he’s about slip out of Eugene’s hand and plummet to his death, tells Eugene to take care of Rapunzel. What does Eugene say?

“We are going to get you out of this! Besides … you should know by now Rapunzel doesn’t need anyone to take care of her.”

I have two major problems with this line.

1. *ahem* You don’t reprimand a FATHER who thinks he’s about to die when he voices concern for his daughter!

2. That’s not what he meant, you nitwit! He’s not asking you to pay her bills for her and to make sure she brushes her teeth every night. NO ONE MEANS THAT WHEN THEY ASK SOMEONE TO TAKE CARE OF SOMEBODY THEY LOVE. What he means … be there for her. Stand by her side when life gets tough. Comfort her when the sorrows of this life happens.

The “I’m totally and utterly independent” lesson is pushed too far. Every human being, male or female, needs someone to be there for them aka someone to take care of them. When you’re the princess, you will always need someone to keep you safe. That’s called a bodyguard, honey. There’s no need to be taking unnecessary risks. Like horse-jumping over a valley of Black Rocks.

What if Rapunzel is about to do something unwise? Someone needs to tell her. Someone who cares enough to inform her of the risks of her potential decision. What if, the writers forbid, Rapunzel’s parents die? Doesn’t she need someone to be there for her? To comfort her? Isn’t that another form of taking care of someone?

No human being should be completely independent. At times, it feels like this is what the show is pushing for. I don’t think the writers intended for their lesson to come across this way but I think they should be a bit more mindful of their tone.

As you can see, the pros far outweigh the cons. The show targets a younger audience but it doesn’t sell them short. Adults will like this show especially us nerds and geeks. The writing, the acting, and the animation all work together in harmony. I highly recommend it to any Disney or fantasy enthusiast.

I give this show 4.5 stars out of 5. I’m really looking forward to Season 3. I can’t wait!

I literally just made a Tangled Theory video so please be sure to check it out. Beware! There are MAJOR spoilers in it.

Destinies Collided: How Did We Get Here?

Art, Media

Hi, everyone!

I’m a big fan of Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure — don’t judge me. It’s awesome. You’re totally missing out.

In this video, I discuss the fan theories going around since the Season 2 finale. *MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!!* DO NOT watch this video if you have not seen Destinies Collide. Come back once you have. Let me know what you think! What are your theories? How do you think it will all end? Let the friendly, fan discussion commence!

Story Length

Art, Media

Just read an article that is definitely true of any art format – especially movies and books. But mostly movies.

More, just in it of itself, is not better. Marvel movies tend to be this way (don’t freak; I do enjoy a few of the movies). Way too much fighting. Cars blowing up are cool and hand to hand combats are pretty awesome, but after twenty minutes, with promises more will come, I get bored. I need to see the characters interacting. Growing. Learning something new.

Enough talking. I will let the article speak for itself. Enjoy!

http://speculativefaith.lorehaven.com/more-is-not-better/

The Avengers Lyric Video

Humor, Media

I’m trying to up my knowledge in Adobe. Illustrator, After Effects, etc. I created this lyric video in After Effects to wet my feet in the program. Do you have any tips or trick for After Effects or Adobe software in general? Let me know in the comments below! And let me know what you think of it.