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Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair (1978)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

A mother reads the fairy tale Rapunzel to her child. As the story grows darker, the reading becomes theatrical, until eventually the mother becomes the witch and the child becomes terrified.

The child falls through space, passing scenes from the story, witchcraft imagery, and romantic paintings of maternal love.

Title: 'The Prince thought, if that's the ladder then I will climb it and seek my fortune.'

A modern-day private detective becomes the prince in the story, reading a case study of drug addiction. The mother (witch) and daughter live in the top floor of a tower block. He makes several visits to the tower block, overhears the princess in her apartment, tries to talk with neighbours and looks through the keyhole, where he witnesses the mother and daughter kissing.

The modern-day Rapunzel stares out of the window. The detective climbs the stairs, but returns to his office. Eventually he explains that he wants to help her with her drug addiction. Rapunzel tells her mother, who flies into a rage, and cuts off all of her hair. When the detective returns, the mother sends him away.

Animated collages of falling fruit and flowers shower down on a female nude, shrouded with a 'Miss World' sash and a huge golden wedding ring that is locked around her neck by cherubs. Eventually, donning witches hat and surrounded by snakes, the figure transforms into a series of iconic and mythical images of women.

A narrator describes how hundreds of thousands of women were burned at the stake in the witchhunts of the middle ages. Drawings of Witches being hung progress into photographic portraits of a girl at different stages of physical development.

A second dramatisation portrays the mother as a doctor in a women's health clinic, where she discusses family planning with her clients. Her daughter studies at home. She asks to be allowed out, and her mother agrees. The daughter pretends she is seeing friends when actually she is visiting her boyfriend. Conversations between the mother and daughter become fraught until there is an outburst in which the daughter reveals she is pregnant.

Title: 'Rapunzel found herself in the endless descent where she had to look after herself and the twins she had borne.'

A young woman writes a folk song, interrupted by a telephone call from her manager. They argue and she slams down the phone. She has two children.

Later, the woman is at work, in a supermarket, when in a group of women walks in to the beat of a feminist anthem. The women invite her to play at a gig they are organising that night. The women march through the streets inviting different women in their day jobs: housewives, factory workers... At the gig all kinds of women and children have a great time, the young woman plays a song - 'Rapunzel let down your hair'.