Saturday, June 19, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 28: The Little Mermaid

Series Intro: This is Part 28 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They will mostly be in release date order, save for those that are not available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers skipped will note missing movies that will be out of order).

Some background information: (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: The Little Mermaid
Release: November 17, 1989 (Let the yearly releases begin!)
Running Time: 85 minutes
Estimated Cost: $40 million
Estimated Revenue: $211.3 million
Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Plot Summary: Expanded
King Triton, king of the merpeople, is holding a musical evening to display both his daughters’ singing talents and Sebastian’s (the crab) musical/conducting talent. The only problem is that Ariel (his youngest daughter) doesn’t show up, despite having the best voice of all her sisters.

Ariel has forgotten about the concert and is instead exploring a sunken ship with her fish friend Flounder. After a narrow escape from a hungry shark, Ariel and Flounder take their finds to Scuttle a bird-brained sea gull.

Triton reprimands Ariel for missing the concert, and more importantly, going to land where a human could see her. Ariel mopes in her hidden trove, where she has hidden her human finds and sings about longing to be part of the human world. Sebastian, having been assigned to watch over Ariel, breaks into the cavern and tries to convince Ariel that the human world is bad. However, a ship passes by during Sebastian’s big number and Ariel swims away. She sees the gorgeous Prince Eric as he captains his vessel for a birthday outing, when suddenly a storm tosses him overboard.

Ariel rescues him and sings to him on land, he catches a glimpse of her as she swims away and is enamored. Meanwhile Ursula, the sea witch, decides that Ariel will be her next prey, and convinces Ariel to trade her voice for legs, so she can get together with Eric. The caveat begin, that if Eric doesn’t kiss her by the sun set of the third day, Ariel will belong to Ursula!

Eric has trouble believing that Ariel is his mysterious singing savior, but treats this mute girl with respect. They spend her first two days exploring his kingdom. Ursula sends her pet eels to ruin what could have been Ariel and Eric’s kiss, where Sebastian has really set the mood. Ursula takes matters more into her own hands and uses Ariel’s voice and a powerful spell to deceive Eric into thinking that she is his savior! He agrees to marry the disguised Ursula and comes close, but Ariel’s friends step up again and prevent the marriage. However, they are too late, Eric and Ariel kiss after the sun sets and Ariel is turned back into a mermaid.

Ursula steals Ariel back to her lair, but before she completely transformed into one of the undead unfortunate souls, Triton takes Ariel’s place and Ursula becomes ruler of the sea! Eric, refusing to loose Ariel again, destroys Ursula, who in her expansion of power, becomes several hundred feet high.

As the last act closes, Ariel, in the sea, sees Eric laying on the shore and Triton says to Sebastian and Flounder that there is only one more problem… how much he will miss Ariel. Triton turns Ariel into a human and she and Eric proceed to get married. Ariel says good-bye to Triton and her sea friends as he sails off into the sunset with her love.

* "Fathoms Below"
* "Daughters of Triton"
* "Part of Your World"
* "Part of Your World (Reprise)"
* "Under the Sea"
* "Poor Unfortunate Souls"
* "Les Poissons"
* "Kiss the Girl"
* "Vanessa's Song"
* "Part of Your World (Finale)"

What can I say about the greatness of these songs. “Part of Your World” is possibly the best Disney song!

Plot Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman bring to life the Han Christian Andersen story of the little mermaid in this all singing, all dancing Broadway like musical. Taking it’s cues from the success of Oliver WDAS brought on Menken and Ashman to add music to Mermaid since they just wrote the hot Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors

This story told about a girl who didn’t actually belong and was longing to find the right place. I will comment more on the plot in “Modern Lense”

Animation Rating: 5 out of 5

Mermaid would be the last film to hand paint each cell (actual it would be the last one to use cells!) The animation of this movie was amazing. Taking cues from Oliver stray lines have completely disappeared, and not since Sleeping Beauty have we seen such amazing back ground art.

If I had to complain about anything, it would be all those bubbles. WDAS continues to tout that were over a million bubbles in the movie, (so many so that bubbles were outsourced from the two production studios: Burbank and Orlando’s Disney/MGM Studios). Look at any nature doc and tell me if when underwater animals are swimming if they make bubbles? Where is the air coming from?

The Test of Time:

Who hasn’t pretended they were Ariel longing to be part of the human world? Ariel and Mermaid revitalized the industry of animation (and sadly brought in the Princess genre).

Having just past the 20th anniversary of this hit, it still has the staying power it had then. Little children watch this movie and long to have the happy ending it shows. Ariel has no ride [yet] in a park, but has meet and greets and has one of the longest running shows at WDW: The Voyage of the Little Mermaid (playing at Hollywood Studios since early 1992).

Mermaid received many award nominations and won many also.

Mermaid also had a short run of Broadway (with the addition of several songs). I saw this show the second night! (Opening sold out before I could get tickets.)

P.S. I saw this movie twice in the theatres... I was 5/6!

Through the Modern Lens

Here’s the biggest problem with Ariel as a princess, most of the other princesses have little or no family that truly loves them, so when they leave their former lives to live with the prince, they aren’t leaving much behind. But Ariel has to leave everything! Everything! She gives up all that she is for Eric (someone she’s known for less than a week). How anti-feministic is that? I just don’t think that could happen today without the internet being up in arms about it.

Sorry for such a long post, but Mermaid is my absolute favorite WDAS movie!

Next Up:
The Rescuers Down Under


janice said...

Ariel has forgotten about the concert and is instead exploring a sunken ship with her fish friend Flounder.

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Davenz said...

its a girly stuff..i like the story..

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