Everyone loves the Disney version of Rapunzel. Its funny, great singing, children and adults both can watch the movie and enjoy it. There is one scene though, that gets me every time I watch this movie with my three year old daughter. Its a very short scene, and if you blink you might miss it.
In the midst of the merriment and wonder of watching Rapunzel discover the world, in the excitement of them being chased by the palace guards, the singing, the dancing, you forget about the parents. There is only one small scene that reminds us of them until the very end when the Lost Princess returns home. In this one small scene you can see a glimpse of the other side of the story.
In this scene they are preparing to step outside to light the single lantern that they light every year on their daughter’s birthday. They face each other and you can tell that they are tired and losing hope. The Queen looks up the King and puts her hand on his cheek, and he leans into it. He looks like he is going to cry, but she wills him some of her strength and together they go out and face the crowd that has gathered for this event, and together they light the candle and lift it up into the air to float away in hopes that its light helps guide their daughter back home.
As the lantern lifts into the air, you see light spreading beneath it as the people light their own lanterns, having seen that the King and Queen have already done so, and send the lanterns into the air. The lanterns slowly rise up and fill the sky with its light, and truly it is one of my favorite scenes in the movie, but it’s one of the saddest for me as well.
I think of the parents whose only child was kidnapped. I think about how, in the beginning, it was only their lantern that floated through the sky. Then, as the people in the kingdom saw it happening every year on the day of the Lost Princess’ birth, they light their lanterns too. In the beginning it was to show their beloved King and Queen support, but then more and more people started doing it, and over time it turned into a festival. A day of dancing, feasting, love and laughter, with the lighting of the lanterns signifying the end of the celebration, much like the fireworks on the 4th of July.
I think of how the King and Queen watched their solemn tradition turned into a carnival and wonder how painful it must of them to have to suffer in front of so many who no longer saw it, how their prayer for their child turned into an annual party. Even when they were tired, frustrated, it was expected of them to perform this ritual every year…even when they wanted to have nothing to do with it any more. When they had given up hope. When they just wanted to shut themselves in their bedroom and cry. Instead they had to do their duty, and light the candle because the people expected them too.
Yes, in the end it is what brought her home, but can you imagine having to go through that. I hope I never have to, and I weep every time I hear of a child being kidnapped on the news. I never want to know that pain and I hold my baby close and swear to keep her safe. I don’t want to have first hand experience with the King and Queens feelings.