There once was a girl with long golden hair. She lived in a high tower with no exit, and if ever she wanted to bring someone into her life, she had to let down her hair so that they could climb it like a ladder into her sheltered existence. That girl’s name was Rapunzel. Or was it Rose?
A new student film reimagines the story of Rapunzel as the story of Rose, a young loner who spends her days safely tucked away in her garden until she meets a new neighbor named Ella. Annabeth Mellon, a New College alum, wrote and directed the film.
“Rose and Ella have relatability,” Mellon said of the film. “Everyone has felt like an outsider at some point in their life.”
The movie follows Rose as she meets Ella, the nosy woman from next door. Ella’s sudden appearance forces Rose to make a decision. She can either keep to herself or take a chance and make a friend—perhaps risking the sanctity of her quiet space in the garden to do so. I caught up with Mellon recently to learn more of the story and her inspiration behind the entire process.
She described the short film, called “Overgrown,” as more than a fantasy, but a story that many people would feel seen by.
To bring the movie to life, Mellon had to find her two leads. Ginger Jolly became Ella, the lively, spunky neighbor. Lily Champion became Rose, the garden dweller.
“I think the film will reach a broad audience because it addresses emotions we all feel at times,” Jolly said. “I think the themes are particularly timely because so many people are struggling right now.”
In a time of quarantines and social distancing, “Overgrown” feels strangely topical. Rose’s dual feelings of isolation and the desire to withdraw mimic a common headspace for many people dealing with the effects of the pandemic, especially adolescents stuck schooling from home.
“I think these themes are particularly fitting right now since so many people are struggling because of the isolation that the pandemic has imposed on people,” Jolly said.
But beyond the pandemic, “Overgrown” still has something meaningful to say about building friendships. In terms of age, Ella and Rose are not peers. But they still can learn and grow from being in one another’s company.
“Ella and Rose teach us the importance of both human interaction and intergenerational interaction.” Jolly said.
Maya Champion, a UA professor and producer on the film—and yes, the mother of star Lily Champion—agreed with Jolly’s assessment. Humans are, as they say, social animals. And we all need healthy interpersonal relationships in order to thrive.
“The big takeaway from the film would be that human connection is very important no matter what level the connection is on,” Champion said. “It is something that we as humans deserve and is necessary for our well being.”
“Overgrown” premiered at the Black Warrior Film Festival on Friday. Keep up with the short film on Instagram and Facebook, where sneak peeks are abundant.