Did OUAT Cast Rapunzel Based On Ancient Story Origins?

There’s been quite a stir in some places based on the recent casting by the US TV Show Once Upon a Time for their new Rapunzel.

For those unfamiliar, this show has a long history of taking fairytales and giving them a good hard twist (like plopping them all in a modern-day town called Storybrooke Maine). With that in mind, anything akin to ‘how dare they change an iconic character” is pretty much out the window. That is the entire premise of the show.

Given that, let’s explore the Rapunzel decision, and some of its less-than-pleasant backlash.

First off, here is our new Rapunzel, Alexandra Metz.

Now if we think of Disney’s recent Rapunzel movie, you may notice some differences. But again, I reiterate, this TV show has a long history of mixing it up.  So should it matter?  Should it matter in a show where Pan is taller and ever so slightly EVIL compared to the Disney version?  Absolutely not.

But let’s go deeper, and get beyond the reflex skin and hair color issues people have tweeted on about and defended as CORE to who Rapunzel is.  A fairly simple google search on the origins of Rapunzel push her story prior to our friends, the Brothers Grimm, suggesting tales a couple of centuries earlier, of French and Italian origin.

Dig just that little bit further, and there’s a possible link even centuries earlier to a Persian mythological tale of Rudaba.  Rudaba has what you expect:

  • Romance
  • Trials
  • Tower
  • Long hair.

Oh, and by the way, here’s a brief description from Wikipedia – curling black tresses, dark eyebrows and eyelashes compared to raven’s wings.

Hmm… seeing a similarity here?

Now is this what the TV producers had in mind? Who knows? Who cares?  The show is about hope, and redemption, and magic, and true love.  None of that is limited to race, skin color, sexuality, or anything else.  And any decision on cast or storyline that extends the world of hope and happy endings to reflect the wide wonderfully diverse cast of characters we have here on Planet Earth?  Well, that’s a good thing in my book (and on my TV).


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