Category Archives: Art

Fact: Tangled Is A Far Better Movie Than Frozen

Tangled > Frozen

It’s not even close.

By David Harsanyi

While reading Jonathan Last’s otherwise fantastic take on the perplexing villainy of Prince Hans in Disney’s blockbuster Frozen, I came across a statement that I’ve been seeing in various forms from a lot of people over the past months: “For starters,” writes Last, “Frozen is—hands down—the best animated film of all time.”

This is wrong.

Now, I should preface this piece by explaining that my expertise on the subject has been earned, like with many of you, through the difficult work of parenting young daughters. This is another way of saying I’ve watched Frozen many times. Everywhere I go, there it is. There’s no escaping. So I’ve been pondering Frozen, and the cultural mania surrounding the movie, quite an unhealthy bit. And considering the film’s stilted plot, its poorly formed characters and the middling score, I find the adoration a bit perplexing. Frozen is an enjoyable film, even after frequent viewings it holds some charm, but the claim that it’s the best animated film ever is nuts. It’s not even as good as the stylistically comparable Tangled. Not even close.

Let’s start with the characters. Take Tangled’s male protagonist Flynn Rider. Funny, sharp, charming and conniving, a fully realized and compelling personality; unlike, say, the sad-sack Kristoff, who cuts ice blocks for a living and is dumber than his sidekick reindeer or the community of rocks that raised him. Rider begins Tangled as a morally compromised man, a liar and thief who’s enticed by nothing but wealth. Yet he gradually learns what love means; to the point, in fact, that he is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for someone he barely knows. I don’t point this out because I believe computer animated films should read like an Evelyn Waugh novel, but because it is an infinitely more fascinating and appealing narrative than anything found in Frozen. It’s also one I am far more interested in letting my kids watch.

But disparity in the quality of the characters runs throughout the films. In Tangled we meet Rapunzel, a generous soul with talents and interests that extend beyond wanting to meet a boy. She wrestlers with her duty as a daughter (albeit, unbeknownst to her, to a fake mother) yet has a nagging curiosity about the world. She is far more sympathetic, far more interesting, and, more importantly, her story makes sense. In Frozen, we are presented with two princesses: Anna a cute but naïve whiner and Elsa, a critically self-involved and hapless ruler, who would allow her people to freeze to death rather than learn a modicum of self-control. Not even melodramatic musical numbers can cover up the fact that these people are making implausibly ludicrous choices.


As far as villains go, Prince Hans – as Last points out– is basically a cheap trick pulled on the audience. Yet, the devious but charismatic Mother Gothel of Tangled, a woman trying to steal eternal youth, is fleshed out about as well as any supporting character you’ll find in an adult film. Which brings me to another vital difference between the two movies: the depth of secondary characters makes Tangled a far more enjoyable experience. From the unruly musical patrons at Tavern, to the dutiful Maximus and the knowing Pascal, there seems to be far more thought put into creating a fuller world. Outside the occasionally entertaining Olaf (a character whose appearance, by the way, makes absolutely no sense), Frozen offers little more than the one-note joke made at the expense of the Duke of Weselton and a couple of his Red Shirt thugs.

Obviously, as viewers we have to suspend our disbelief when entering a world of fantasy, but still: It’s difficult to comprehend why anyone in Frozen finds themselves in their circumstance. A single conversation between sisters could have cleared up everything. Tangled, on the other hand, is intricately plotted, each scene serving a purpose and propelling the story forward. Frozen is basically the tale of a sister fetching her petulant, emotionally unbalanced sibling. And it’s loaded with scenes — the wolf chase and angry abominable snowman, to name just two — that feel like they were crammed into the script to create the impression that much is unfolding when in fact nothing much is happening at all.

Aesthetically, I would concede that there were some beautifully animated scenes evoking Scandinavia. We just don’t have enough of Scandinavia in movies (and I mean this, sincerely). But overall, Tangled is far more artistically captivating. The beautiful light festival alone is better than anything you’ll see in Frozen. This might have a lot to do the whitewashing that comes with putting snow at the center of your story.

Finally: though I find some of the generic songs of Frozen to be fairly off-putting and some of the whimsical songs in Tangled to be somewhat pleasant, I acknowledge that this is more a matter of personal taste. So I leave the judgment in the more capable hands of John Podhoretz, who tweeted:

Songs in “Tangled” > Songs in “Frozen”
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) December 14, 2013

Re Disney’s Frozen: The songs just weren’t quite good enough. Better songs, a classic. OK songs, pretty good movie.
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) November 29, 2013

I suspect Frozen — like Crash or Dances With Wolves — will be judged more honestly by future generations or, at the very least, critics will recalibrate the initial excitement and view the film as a mildly entertaining princess movie. But before that day comes, don’t let them bully you. I know I’m not alone out here.

Follow David Harsanyi on Twitter.


Razzle Dazzle Camouflage

In WWI and WWII, over 6,000 Allied warships used camo to confuse the enemy.

By Taylor Welden


No, this isn’t a new Gobstopper flavor from Willy Wonka or a name of a wild 1970’s disco in Miami. Dazzle Camouflage is an innovative and controversial technique used by the British and US warships in World War I and into World War II. Not only was the name a bit odd (also known as “Dazzle Camouflage” or “Dazzle Painting”), the principal behind it was just as strange.

When you think camouflage, you normally imagine a set of colors or patterns that help conceal the object to which it is applied. Snipers wear natural-colored camo to match their surroundings, making them nearly impossible to spot, even in a flat field with a single shrub or two. Not here. Razzle Dazzle is quite the contrary.


The problem with ocean camo is, well, the ocean isn’t a single color. It varies from different factors, like weather, time of day, depth, and the water itself. So a single shade and/or mixture of gray or blue/green simply doesn’t work.

Razzle Dazzle Camouflage actually, counter-intuitively, makes ships more visible. Oddly, it works by boldly drawing attention, rather than hiding. However, due to the complex patterns of geometric shapes and bold contrasting colors, which interrupt and intersect each other, it was intended to simply mislead the enemy.


Though no color photos of these ships exist due to the photography equipment of the time, the colors used were primarily black, white, blue, green, and sometimes neons. When a German submarine spotted one of these flamboyant warships in their primitive rangefinders, it became extremely difficult to judge the speed and heading of the vessel’s course.

This made it nearly impossible to accurately make a successful torpedo hit, which were mathematically computed (by human) using factors of speed and course. Additionally, Razzle Dazzle Camo blurred the size, class or type of ship, which otherwise would be recognizable if painted in one solid color (this prevented the enemy from prioritizing their targets).


The wild camouflage was credited to British artist, Norman Wilkinson (1878-1971). His concept was adopted by John Graham Kerr, a Unionist Member of Parliament. Mr. Kerr outlined and proposed this radical idea in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1914, It is essential to break up the regularity of outline and this can be easily effected by strongly contrasting shades … a giraffe or zebra or jaguar looks extraordinarily conspicuous in a museum but in nature, especially when moving is wonderfully difficult to pick up.

Kerr’s letter was so compelling, Churchill quickly made a general order to the British fleet in November 1914, which advocated the use of Dazzle Camouflage. Following this directive and it’s success, the US Navy jumped on board, borrowing the technique from the Crown.




Though the camo was a massive aid in both World War I and World War II, it inevitably became obsolete as the technology of war developed, such as rangefinders, radar, and aircraft targeting systems. However, it still gave the Germany U-boats plenty of hassle, and frequently led to them giving up their positions to the Allied naval vessels.

In total, Razzle Dazzle was applied to over 2,000 warships and 4,000 British merchant ships. It’s still used today, as it’s frequently painted on car prototypes to prevent preying eyes from getting a clear view of the car’s lines/shapes via photo leaks. The Razzle dazzles on.







For a video on Dazzle Painting, visit YouTube. Or for further reading, see Amazon.

Image credits. 1:; 2: Naval Historical Center; 3, 5, 6, 7: 99% Invisible; 4: Mental Floss; 8: CosmoQuest; 9: Blaaargh; 10: WikiMedia; 11:; 12: Navsource Online; 13: OnSiteReview.


The Landfill Harmonic: An Orchestra Built From Trash

by Anastasia Tsioulcas

There’s an amazing video floating around YouTube that has brought a ray of sunshine to a very dark week for all of us. It’s the trailer for an upcoming documentary called Landfill Harmonic, which focuses on one remarkable group in Paraguay: an orchestra that plays instruments created out of literal trash, made lovingly for them by their community.

The young musicians all come from Cateura, a slum that’s built upon a landfill; the 2500 families who live there survive by separating garbage for recycling. A 2010 UNICEF report about this slum notes that more than 1500 tons of solid waste arrives each day. Illiteracy is rampant there, and Cateura’s youngest inhabitants are often the ones responsible for collecting and reselling the garbage. The water supply is very dangerously polluted; on rainy days, the town floods with contaminated water. “A violin is worth more than a house here,” says Favio Chavez, the orchestra’s director and founder.

In the midst of such an existence, these musicians have created something both special and truly awe-inspiring. “My life would be worthless without music.” says one girl in pigtails. A young man named Juan Manuel Chavez, nicknamed Bebi, has a cello fashioned out of an oil can and old cooking tools. For the camera, he plays the Prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 — beautifully.

“People realize that we shouldn’t throw away trash carelessly,” says Chavez at the end of the trailer. “Well, we shouldn’t throw away people either.”