We are taking it back this time on scene breakdowns with my favorite Disney Animation Studios‘ film, Tangled. There are many reasons why this film has a special place in my heart; the art, adventure, characters, and, of course, the romance. The love story between Rapunzel and Eugene Fitzherbert, also known as Flynn Rider, is a joyful adventure, complete with some of my favorite tropes. Starting as reluctant allies, we get to watch their journey towards becoming each other’s dream. One of the most important scenes throughout this journey is the campfire scene. It is the beginning of their shift into something more and beautifully sets up the rest of the film.
After escaping a near watery demise, confessing his true name, and her magic hair reveal, Eugene and Rapunzel find themselves in uncharted territory. At this point, both of them could easily close up and brush off what they shared in the face of peril. However, they chose to open up further and share pieces of themselves that they have never shared with others before.
The scene opens with Rapunzel healing someone (Eugene) with her hair for the first time that is not Mother Gothel. She makes her own decision to heal him and opens herself up to judgment, more questions, and takes the risk to truly trust Eugene not to betray her secret. Eugene’s reaction to the whole ordeal keeps the scene light at first, but he sobers after as Rapunzel reveals her situation. He asks if she plans on going back to the tower, and we see her struggling with that choice, getting an insight into her personal journey. There is a beautiful new intimacy emerging between them during this quiet conversation.
We also get a look into the rouge after some cute prompting from Rapunzel, in her own way keeping the mood light. Obviously, Eugene is not comfortable opening up, but he decides to do so, sharing his past as an orphan and the novel that brought him comfort and escape.
Rapunzel asks if Flynnigan Rider was a thief too, and there is a shift in Eugene. It is as if this is the first time he has made that connection. The person he idolized and wanted to be like is not like the thief he has become, thus organically setting up his own growth outside of his relationship with Rapunzel.
The two of them get back on more comfortable ground as the conversation comes to a close with a round of jokes that turns into flirting. But not without one more sincere moment from Rapunzel when she declares that she likes his true name better than his stolen one. Eugene believes that she is the first to do so, eluding to more of the hardships that he endured during his childhood.
I cannot end this without mentioning the song playing in this scene; it is one of my favorite pieces of score. Alan Menken outdoes himself with this serene track that accentuates the scene of the two of them opening up beautifully. It is hopeful and romantic, making it feel like a safe space around them to share before it shifts into the dramatic tones of the return of Mother Gothel, who creates more tension for Rapunzel. It is the perfect midway point of the film, adding a twist after the revelations of Rapunzel and Eugene.