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Breanna - a lifelong Disney fan - is a writer who lives on a cattle ranch in Alabama. She wants a t-shirt that says, "Where Were You When Mufasa Died?"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

“What Would Her Father Say? I’ll Tell You What Her Father’d Say. He’d Say He’s Gonna Kill Himself a Crab, That’s What Her Father’d Say!”

            Now guys, I am many things but I am most certainly not stupid.  Looking back at what we’ve covered thus far, the first five Disney films are time honored classics, attention waned a bit during the package films, there was a lot of excitement about Walt’s golden age, and we’ve been heatedly talking about the so-called dark age of Disney’s history.  Those discussions were all well and good, but I’m not naïve.  I know that this is the moment in Disney history everyone has been waiting for.  I speak of course of the Disney Renaissance.  There had been some great films released prior to 1989, but for many people, myself included, the time from 1989 to 1999 was the period that made many a young person discover and fall absolutely head over heels in love with Disney.  And I’d be lying if I said that these films weren’t the ones I was the most excited for when I made the decision to do a project like this.  It all began with a certain redheaded mermaid who dreamed of something more.   
             The Little Mermaid is definitely a film that holds a special place in my heart.  It was the first movie I ever saw in movie theatres at the ripe old age of four.  I could not even begin to say how many times I’ve seen this film, and God only knows how many times I’ve listened to “Part of Your World.”  This is one of my favorite Disney films and no matter how many times I watch it, I still laugh, cry, and sing along.  But it’s not just an important film to me; it’s an important film to the Disney Company and to the world.
            The Little Mermaid earned $111 million during its initial run at the box office (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Mermaid_(1989_film)).  With subsequent rereleases, the film has earned $211 million to date.  But in my opinion the greatest impact The Little Mermaid has had is not a monetary one, but an emotional one.  A great example: just a few days ago, my mother and I were visiting a good friend’s house to buy some eggs (she and her husband raise chickens).  They’ve recently adopted a lovely but quiet little girl from Guatemala named Breesa.  We were sitting around her kitchen table talking about everything that was going on in our lives and in the world, when my mom brought up Waking Snow White.  I was explaining to her and Breesa what I had been doing for the Waking Snow White project, and I mentioned that the latest film I was writing about was The Little Mermaid.  I happened a look over at Breesa, who had been listening intently but not saying much.  At the mere mention of The Little Mermaid, her eyes suddenly lit up and she had the brightest sparkling smile on her face.  I immediately recognized that look because it’s the same look I get at the mere mention of The Little Mermaid.
            There is so much that I love about this film that it’s difficult for me to choose a place to start.  I guess that the best place would be the area where Mermaid won its Oscars: the music!  The Little Mermaid was the first collaboration between Disney and the two men responsible for the incredible The Little Shop of Horrors, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken.  This film would prove to be the start of a long, loving, healthy relationship between Menken and the Disney studio and a showcase of the talent of Ashman before his passing during the production of Beauty and the Beast.  The music produced for The Little Mermaid would define an entire generation of Disney films, as well as a generation of Disney fans.

The defining song of The Little Mermaid for me is an easy choice: “Part of Your World.”  My iTunes say that I’ve listened to “Part of Your World” fifty-two times, but that doesn’t take into account laptop changes, computer crashes, and the numerous times I listened to it as a kid on cassette tape.  When that is all taken into account, I can say that I’ve listened to this song a lot.  It’s one of my all time favorite Disney songs and arguably one of my favorite songs of all time.  The lyrics are so completely original and the music is just beautifully composed. 
But Jodi is the one who sells it.  Every nuance in her vocal performance of that song reveals several corners of Ariel’s soul.  As revealed on the Platinum Edition documentary, Howard Ashman is the one who influenced Benson’s performance the most.  It was an incredible moment to see the legendary lyricist say to Benson that instead of doing a traditional belting Broadway approach to “Part of Your World,” that she should sing as though she was having a conversation, giving the song more power.  It was that very subtle change in approach that gave the song its power.  So much so, that Jodi Benson revealed that “the mermaid song” is the song her daughter requests her mom sing; raise your hand if you would love to hear Jodi Benson sing “Part of Your World” to you every night.
No one has been able to top Jodi Benson’s original performance since The Little Mermaid came out and there have been a fair share of attempts: Miley Cyrus, Jessica Simpson, several Broadway actresses, and God only knows how many Disney theme park performers (one of whom would go on to run in the Miss America pageant).  I’m talking about the ladies who play Ariel in the Disney Hollywood Studios attraction, Voyage of the Little MermaidVoyage of the Little Mermaid is a live stage show retelling of Ariel’s story.  By and large, the ladies who play Ariel don’t sing “Part of Your World” poorly; they just don’t sing it Jodi.  My sister insists on sitting on that show each time we visit, but I’m not sure why we even bother anymore; as cool as some of the visual effects are, all we do is unfairly bash the way the girl sings “Part of Your World.”
“Part of Your World” was one of The Little Mermaid’s most famous scenes, and it was a perfect showcase of what makes Glen Keane such a remarkable animator.  No other animator gets into a character’s head and expresses every little nuanced emotion that they feel just through their hyper expressive eyes like Keane can.  “Part of Your World” was more than just a mere princess wish song; Keane, Jodi Benson, and Howard Ashman elevated it to bare Ariel’s soul before the audience.  The crux of the film’s meaning rests on the shoulders of this one scene, so it’s kind of hard to believe that Jeffrey Katzenberg at one point decided that the scene needed to be cut from the film.
This story was detailed on the Platinum Edition documentary: apparently at one of the earliest screenings of The Little Mermaid, a little boy that Katzenberg was sitting behind had dropped his popcorn during “Part of Your World” and became totally focused on picking up his popcorn.  When Katzenberg saw this, he became convinced that the scene was boring and should be cut from the final film.  Naturally, everyone else involved in the film’s production was aghast at such a suggestion.  Ashman, both Ron Clements and John Musker all made their arguments about why the scene should not be cut, but Katzenberg would not budge on the issue.  It took the efforts of Mr. Keane himself (who had already animated three-quarters of the sequence at this time) to convince Katzenberg to give the scene another chance at another screening.  To this day, Katzenberg calls this story rather “humiliating” for him to hear because of how hard it is to imagine the film without “Part of Your World.”
It’s not just the song that makes the scene so memorable.  Glen Keane did an absolutely astounding job animating Ariel in this scene.  As a kid, I never got bored during the scene; I was always so focused on how pretty Ariel was.  Her appearance is credited to the efforts of two men: her supervising animators, Glen Keane and Mark Henn (Disney leading lady extraordinaire).  Keane has stated numerous times that his main inspiration for Ariel was his wife, who apparently looks exactly like Ariel “without the fins.”  Her body type was based on then sixteen Alyssa Milano, with Sherri Stoner providing live action reference for many of Ariel’s major scenes. 
One major aspect of Ariel’s animation that I feel almost never gets talked about is her hair.  I’m not talking about the decision to make her a redhead (something that was the subject of great dispute during the film’s production); I’m talking about the fact that for her scenes under the ocean, her hair is constantly moving.  Most of the time in animation, hair stays put unless it’s unavoidable.  But when Ariel is swimming, there is not a single frame where her hair doesn’t change its position.  If I had to pick one hand drawn animated film to be the pinnacle of hair animation, it would definitely be The Little Mermaid (of course, if I had to pick one animated film overall to be the pinnacle of hair animation, I would have to give it to Tangled, but we’ll get to that later).  They achieved the look of Ariel’s hair movements by studying footage of Sally Ride when she was in space.

            The fact is that Ariel’s hair is the subject of my favorite scene in Little Mermaid: the scene after Ariel rescues Eric and is singing on the rock.  There are times where the reprisals are some of the strongest pieces of music and animation in a film.  Case in point, is the first reprisal of “Part of Your World.”  That animation of Ariel on the rock is my all time favorite piece of Disney animation.  Not only does she look absolutely stunning (the way her blows in the sea wind looks incredibly realistic), but I love the moment when the water crashes behind her and the allusion to the figurehead on the bow of a ship is made.  That look of raw determination and excitement that is evident in her eyes cemented Ariel’s status as new breed of Disney princess.
            There have been a lot of teenage heroines to come out of Disney, but Ariel is the first who truly is unquestionably a teenage girl.  She’s whiny, she talks back to her father, and she speaks the credo of adolescent kids all over the world: “I’m sixteen-years-old – I’m not a child anymore!”  Many a young woman watching this film inadvertently will find herself identifying with Ariel on multiple levels.  She’s at the stage in life where she’s definitely not a kid, but not quite a woman either and wants something out of her life that differs greatly from what her family has in mind for her.
            Disney was definitely entering into new territory with Ariel.  Their golden age heroines - Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora – were perfectly nice young women who had the rotten luck of having bad things happen to and around them.  Not so with Ariel.  Ariel wasn’t perfect.  She was actively trying to change her fate and in the course of doing so made plenty of mistakes, some of which could have had serious and permanent repercussions.
            This doesn’t detract from Ariel’s likability.  Quite the contrary, it actually makes her that much more human and that much more sympathetic.  There are some feminists who might be tempted to criticize Ariel for giving up her whole life for a guy, but I would say that this is not the case.  “Part of Your World” lets the audience know from the start that Ariel had always wanted to have a life on the land.  Falling in love with Eric was simply the nudge out of the door that she needed, or the push out of the sea I should say.
             But what a guy to fall in love with, right?  If Ariel is any indication that Disney had created a new kind of heroine, Eric is definitely the start of a new kind of prince with more personality than ever before.  Christopher Daniel Barnes provided his voice (he also played Greg Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie and its sequel), and was successful in giving Eric a boyish, gravelly, yet mature manner in the way that he spoke.  Eric is jovial, seafaring, and shy all at once.  He even evoked his inner Prince Phillip during the film’s climax as he steered that sunken ship like a sword.  But the main reason why Eric is awesome: he jumped back onto a burning ship just to save his dog.  I can’t speak for the entire female population of the world, but that’s the kind of man I want to marry.




            He also has great chemistry with Ariel, which is surprising since the majority of their scenes happen after she has lost her voice.  I once heard a girl allege that Eric fell in love with Ariel based entirely on her appearance.  Naturally, I disagree.  Even though she doesn’t talk for at least a quarter of the film, Ariel’s personality manages to shine through.  Her curiosity for every single thing she sees is very endearing but she still manages to show off that signature Ariel spark.  Just check out her facial expressions when Eric is trying to guess her real name during “Kiss the Girl.”

            Ah, “Kiss the Girl.”  It’s one of my favorite Disney songs, it’s one of the best Disney love songs, and it provides the basis for the most romantic Disney scene since Lady and Tramp’s date.  It starts off in a very comedic manner with Scuttle’s… uh… “vocal, romantic stimulation.”  But thanks to Sebastian’s professional intervention, (“First we’ve got to create… da mood.”) an atmosphere that is so romantic and memorable is created.  Gentlemen, take notes, because I can safely say that there is not a woman who was once a dreaming little girl in 1989 who has not fantasized about sharing a rowboat ride with their prospective significant other.  The circle of blinking fireflies, the fountain like cascade of water created by a ring of fish, and the sexy atmosphere created by the leaves of an old willow tree are all optional, but highly recommended.

            Of course, “Kiss the Girl” wouldn’t have been half the song it turned out to be were it not for the amazing performance of Samuel E. Wright, a Broadway star who has voiced Sebastian in subsequent appearances after the original film as much as Jodi Benson has voiced Ariel.  Of the supporting character in The Little Mermaid, Sebastian is my favorite.  His scenes are some of the most meaningful and some of the funniest the film has to offer.  The chosen quote used to title this entry is the one line from any Disney film that no matter how many times I hear it, I still laugh. 
            But Wright’s best comedic performance in the film was when Sebastian was going to head to head against the seafood loving chef, Louis (voiced by an almost unrecognizable Rene Auberjonois, who had a major role on Boston Legal for a number of years).  The most that Wright says during the scene are some gasps and screams, but the scene is staged so perfectly that it never fails to make me laugh.  “Les Poissons” is a lyrical tour-de-force on Ashman’s part, and is completely successful at making the act of cooking seafood incredibly barbaric. Let me just say that it’s very difficult for me to eat crab cakes after watching this movie.

            But for a better example of Wright’s talents as a vocalist, look no further than the song that won the first Oscar for Disney since 1971’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks, “Under the Sea.” The calypso tone for the song was one of several of Ashman’s contributions to the film, and completely changed the direction of Sebastian’s character, originally envisioned as an Englishman.  “Under the Sea” is a perfect example of what a master lyricist Howard Ashman was.  The way he arranged certain words to form a cohesive story and rhythm is absolutely brilliant to listen to and still holds up twenty-one years later.
            Of course, Ashman left his handprints all over The Little Mermaid.  He was a lot like Walt Disney, in that when he performed demos of the songs, he would become every character a lot like how Walt would play every character when he pitched the story of Snow White.  Especially indicative of this is the sea witch herself.  It had long been a dream of Pat Carroll’s to voice a Disney character, and she turned in a dynamite performance as Ursula. 
            Everything about the character was big and over the top, and I’m not just talking about her body shape either.  Her gestures were big and theatrical, and served as a sharp contrast to petite and graceful Ariel.  I love the animation that accompanies her line in her introductory scene, “And now look at me – wasted away to practically nothing.”  Some of her choreography during “Poor Unfortunate Souls” comes across as downright sexual and provocative. 

            Which is not surprising when you learn exactly whom they based Ursula’s looks off of: world famous drag queen and a John Waters’ favorite, Devine.  Don’t believe that a drag queen and Disney could ever cross paths?  Just take a gander at Ursula’s makeup and hair.  Definitely a new, slightly more controversial era for Disney animation, I’d say.
             I’m sorry that I even have to bring this up, but it’s hard to talk about The Little Mermaid without getting into this particular subject.  Some of you I suspect already know what I’m talking about, but for those who don’t, there are many people who have accused Disney of hiding some very sexual images in and around this film.  On the cover of the original VHS release of The Little Mermaid, supposedly an artist rendered one of the spires on Triton’s castle in the shape of a penis.  Disney insists that this was completely accidental, and I’m inclined to agree; let’s face, there are plenty of things in this world that are reminiscent of male anatomy but are not intended to be such.  All subsequent home releases of The Little Mermaid have not included Triton’s castle in any way.

            Oh, but we’re not done with the hidden penis imagery.  For a long time, there were those who claimed that the priest performing Eric and Vanessa’s wedding was sporting an erection.  I am happy to say, though, that this one has been disproven in recent years.  If you happen to own a VHS copy of The Little Mermaid, go back and watch it again.  The so-called erection is actually just a side angle of the priest’s knobby, bent knees.  Even though it’s been established to not be an erection, the shot in question has been re-edited for the Platinum Edition release.
            That isn’t to say that there aren’t some risqué elements in The Little Mermaid.  I mentioned the use of Devine as a character model, but there's also Ariel herself to consider.  For the first half of the film, she swims around in a belly revealing seashell bikini.  No Disney princess had ever been that exposed before, further evidence that Disney has acknowledged the women’s lib movement in its heroines.  And then there’s the scene where she undergoes that rather painful looking transformation into a human at the hands of Ursula.  For the next two scenes, Ariel is completely naked from the chest down. 

            It’s something you don’t often see in family films, but there really was no other way to realistically get the story across.  I have to wonder if any of the story people suggested at one point that she turn into a human wearing some conveniently appearing pants.  I am glad that they stuck to their convictions and decided that when she first appears on land that nudity would be implied.  Through the use of some clever editing, the audience never actually sees anything too scandalous.  Contrary to popular belief, Ariel was not the first Disney princess to appear naked on screen; that honor goes to Cinderella in her introductory scene when she takes a literal bird bath. 
Ursula’s magic in that scene are some impressive visuals to be sure.  We have the effects animation department to thank for a lot of that.  The Little Mermaid is an amazing film to watch for the effects animation alone.  The storm scene alone took ten animators over a year to finish.  There really hasn’t been an animated scene so dependent on effects animation since Pinocchio.  There’s lightning, there’s fireworks, there’s explosions, there’s rain, and there’s water.  Lots and lots of water.  The waves are so violent and tremendous; it gives the audience an idea of how vulnerable sailors were in those ships of yesteryear.
The storm also provides an impressive backdrop for Ariel and Eric’s first meeting.  For Ariel to save someone twice her size from a storm like that is an impressive feat to say the least.  It’s no wonder that Eric became obsessed with finding the girl who saved him.  Though the love story is a prominent part of The Little Mermaid, at its heart it is a story about fathers and daughters. 
King Triton (voiced by Kenneth Mars, and animated by Andreas Deja) is easily the most complex father to spawn a Disney princess.  Though he comes across as harsh and unfair to Ariel, the audience gradually sees is an overprotective father whose only fault is loving his daughter too much.  Though Ariel makes some mistakes along the way, Triton is at fault for what takes place in the story as well.  Like so many fathers, he wants to believe that he knows what is best for his daughter but fails to see the kind of person his baby girl is growing into.  The story of Ariel and Triton is the story of all fathers facing the terrifying prospect of their youngest daughters growing up. 
His character’s complexity is due in no small part to the skill of master animator, Andreas Deja.  Though he would become famous for animating villains, Deja was able to portray Triton from multiple points of views.  When he’s lecturing Ariel, the audience sees him as harsh, inconsiderate, and unfair.  When he’s destroying Ariel’s collection of human things, he comes across as terrifying, verging on villainy.  It is during these moments, that the audience only sees Triton from Ariel’s point of view. 

It’s only when the audience sees Triton in the moments without Ariel does the audience how much love he has for his rambunctious daughter.  He doubts himself as a parent and blames only himself when Ariel goes missing from the sea.  But when Sebastian explains to him Ursula’s involvement, he rushes to save his daughter and doesn’t hesitate in exchanging his life for hers.  But the moment that never fails to trigger the waterworks is towards the end when he’s watching Ariel watching Eric (in a pose that is a very subtle tribute to Hans Christian Anderson).  The short dialogue he exchanges with Sebastian truly does reveal that Triton finally understands his daughter, but the clinching line:
Triton: Well… I guess there’s one problem left.
Sebastian: And what’s that, Your Majesty?
 Triton: How much I’m going to miss her.
And just like that Triton turns Ariel human without any trouble at all.  What gets to me about this part is that Triton had the power all along to give Ariel her dream and that she never had to make a deal with Ursula.  But all of the hardship had to happen before they could finally communicate with each other on the same level.  At the end of the film, Eric (a human) has earned the respect of his father in law who sends off his daughter’s marriage with a blessing.  Ariel’s whispered, “I love you, Daddy” never fails to bring the tears to my eyes.

Ariel’s relationship with her father is one that many women can relate to, myself included.  Ages back when I reviewed Dumbo, my awesome reader, Tink, shared an incredibly personal story about the emotional response that particular film evoked in her.  She apologized at the start of her comment for what she had to say about the emotional response she had to Dumbo.  I am going to say this for everyone who wants to comment that if there were any kind of films that demand that personal, emotional stories be shared, it’s the Disney animated films.  I can’t think of movies that create as strong an emotional response as these films.
One of my favorite stories revolving around The Little Mermaid came from the Platinum Edition documentary.  Back when the film was released, the studio received a letter from a New Jersey state trooper who went to see the film and spent the entire duration just crying his eyes out.  His relationship with his own daughter was estranged, but when he saw The Little Mermaid, he was so moved that he called her and worked things out with her.  I have seen only Disney films have that kind of power.
            The Little Mermaid was released thirty years after Sleeping Beauty, which had been the last Disney fairy tale up to that point.  It is a film that has not gone away since its release.  The Little Mermaid had an animated series for a number of years on the Disney Channel.  I mentioned earlier The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, a live stage show retelling of the film.  The visuals they are able to create within that theater space are amazing to watch, especially the puppetry they use to recreate the “Under the Sea” scene.  I have begun to believe that Disney uses stage shows in the theme parks as a means of gauging the interest of the public in taking stories to another venue, far away from Florida and California.  Of course I'm talking about the Broadway stage.  In 2008, The Little Mermaid opened as a fully realized musical on Broadway and has recently begun touring the country.
Ariel is one of the most popular Disney Princesses, though they can’t seem to decide what her standard dress should be.  On several pieces of merchandise, I’ve seen her wedding gown, her mermaid garb, her pink dress, and a recreation of the sparkly blue dress that she wears at the end of the film (my personal favorite, although I also like the blue and black dress she wears for the tour of Eric’s kingdom).  Ursula is a key part of the Disney Villains brand and appears in plenty of shows and parades.  Ariel and Eric are staples that appear in several parades and Fantasmic!
But in 2011, Ariel will get the full princess treatment when the first Little Mermaid dark ride is opened in Disney’s California Adventure with a version opening in the Magic Kingdom in Disney World in 2012.  This is something that has been planned by Imagineers for years, almost immediately after the film’s debut.  A version of what they had originally planned can be seen on the Platinum Edition DVD, though I’m not sure it will be the exact same vision as the final product.  Given The Little Mermaid’s impact on Disney, Disney fans, and countless others, the dark ride homage is long overdue.

4 comments:

  1. OMG! I absolutely adore The Little Mermaid! What Snow White is to you and Alice in Wonderland is to your sister: The Little Mermaid is to me. It is my ultimate favourite Disney movie! I had an Ariel barbie as a child, the soundtrack cassette, a drinking glass and a "How to Draw" book (which I all still have). Thinking back now my adoration with The Little Mermaid must have stood out a lot, because I received the "How to Draw" book for my birthday one year from an Uncle I didn't spend much time with LOL.

    I remember going to see this in the theater as well. I was 7 at the time, and 21 years later I have more love for this movie than I did as a child.

    I have to say you nailed your review. Like you "Part of Your World" is my top favourite song AND scene. Followed closely by "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl", and.... you know what? I love all the songs. There isn't a single song in this movie I don't love x a billion.

    I couldn't even begin to pick a favourite secondary character. Sebastian, Flounder, Scuttle, Eric, Triton, Ursula, etc., etc. They all get equal love from me. Always. <3

    Everyone involved in this movie did an amazing job. And I couldn't imagine anyone other than the actors they chose to voice the characters. Ever. It just would not be the same. Would not have the same effect, the same appeal, and the same feel. Of course that's usually a given for any piece of entertainment, whether it be movie, show, and otherwise.

    I'd never thought anything about the "risque-ness" depicted in any of the Disney movies (not as a child or an adult up till recently). But having bought Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 on DVD yesterday and watching it for the first time, as an adult, I'd have to give the most risque scene award to that movie. In the "Pastoral Symphony", when the female Centaurs are shown bathing, several of them are shown topless. Breasts and all are shown. And then of course there's the little flying naked Cupids. While it doesn't bother me, I just thought it was odd and rather bold for a movie made in the 1940's to include that.

    So you'd think for movies, like The Little Mermaid, made some 40+ years later, there wouldn't be such a big deal over scenes like Ariel's first moments as a human.

    But someone's always looking for faults in everything I suppose.

    Thanks Bre and can't wait for the rest!

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  2. I remember the first time I saw this movie on home video. I remember when my sister received it for Christmas. I remember naming her first hermit crab Sebastian.

    The Little Mermaid is just a wonderful movie, showcasing everything good about the company. The animation is amazing (and will only improve with subsequent films). I like the effects, like when they add water ripple effects every now and then. They aren't there much, but you notice them in the title sequence. And it's good that the opening credits in their own way tell story too; the take you from the ship to the music hall.

    Ariel is just wonderfully realized. And a lot of her animation is just sexy. That bit where she's writhing "warm on the sand" is awesome. And of course the reprise. Glen Keane's work is amazing. He's done tons of great work since, but Ariel may be his best. Also thank you for pointing out Andreas' work. Keane was long my favorite animator, but recently Deja is a very close second.

    As to Eric falling for Ariel solely on looks, I don't think so either. He also had an attachment to the girl who saved his life, with a beautiful voice. And yes, poor dumb human Ariel is so endearing who wouldn't love her? ...Though one wonders how she deals with other issues glossed over in these kinds of films like toilets and underwear and eventual menstruation. But that's just overthinking it.

    If there's one problem with the film, I think it may be in Ursula's plan. Stealing Ariel's voice makes sense, and Eric has given up on Ariel being the girl who saved him. Then Ursula comes along with her singing voice. That SHOULD be enough, but instead the voice casts this spell on Eric so he's sort of robotic for the rest of the day. I'm not sure that bit was necessary to delay him for a day. And why the wedding exactly?

    I love Ursula. Now comparing her to Divine is going to scar me for life. All I can picture is Ursula going "Someone has sent me a turd!"

    I'm so annoyed at Disney for reanimating the priest's legs. Would people stop looking for things that aren't there? But I guess when you watch a video enough times you'll see anything. Speaking of which, you know how people watch Wizard of Oz while listening to Dark Side of the Moon? Well, I like to watch Little Mermaid while listening to Nevermind by Nirvana.

    I might also mention another spin-off result of the movie's success. Besides the stage shows and cartoon, Sam Wright used it to fuel two children's concert specials on Disney Channel, Sebastian's Caribbean Jamboree and Sebastian's Party Gras, with their corresponding albums.

    Even though the movie takes some flack for changing Anderson's ending, which is far more bittersweet, it's a wonderful solid story of a father and daughter with great music and great animation.

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  3. I don't even know where to begin. I can't think of anything but praise for this movie. I have so much love for it. While it is not my absolute favorite, it is one of the very best of all time in my opinion. I wrote so much that I couldn't even comment at first.

    Can I just say how much I love Alan Menken? I've been waiting very impatiently to get to the movies that he has played a part with. I find him to be a genius. His music is beautiful and truly started one of my deepest dreams to someday be the voice of a Disney heroine. I'd pretty much kill to sing his songs.

    Of course, I can't pretty much have my own little music fangirl party simply by praising the geniuses that created it. Oh no. The voices truly breathe life to the characters and make the music truly memorable. Jodi Benson pretty much became one of the voices that little girls now dream to have. The emotion that you can hear when she sings "Part of Your World" just gives me goosebumps. She brings Ariel to life as a spunky, inquisitive, and dreaming you woman.

    And of course, the animation of Glen Keane brought her to the screen. I must also gush about her hair. I love how it just constantly flows around her while she's in the water. Her personality is so vibrant. She's so full of curiosity and dreams and life that I always get annoyed when people say that she's silly because she throws everything away for Eric. She's not just doing it because she loves Eric. She's doing it because it's about HER dream.

    I love Eric. Poor guy gets caught in a burning ship, almost drowns, gets saved, falls in love, finds her and doesn't realize it, has to make a decision between two girls without realizing their the same one, gets taken control of, and then has to go kill a sea witch. He had a pretty intense three weeks. I also love his facial expressions. One of my favorite moments in the movie is the reaction Eric gives when Ariel blows the pipe in Grimsby's face.

    I heard that Ursula had hints of being cannibalistic. Has anyone noticed that?

    I'm quite glad they changed the ending. I hate sad endings and I always felt so bad for the little mermaid in the original.

    It was the very beginning of the Disney Renaissance and this classic movie kicked off a whole slew of classics that will charm audiences for years to come.

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  4. Ah, The Little Mermaid. Where to begin? One of my sisters absolutely worships this movie. She was an infant when it came out in theatres (the first movie I can remember going to the movies to see) but two decades' viewing--first on VHS, then DVD--at home, friends' homes, slumber parties has given her plenty of opportunities to fall in love with Ariel.

    I think what stands out to me the most about Ariel is how, even though she's, well, a mermaid, she's someone we all know. She is an incredibly realistic teenage girl, pouty one minute, defiant the next, always spunky and full of fun. Her relationship with her father is de rigeur for many father-and-daughter pairs, and my own father--who raised three girls and two boys--even gets choked up at Ariel's touching "I love you, Daddy" at the end. King Triton, despite his overprotective tendencies and positively scary rage, ranks among the very best on my list of Disney parents.

    I definately agree that there is something a bit more...sensual...about this movie, in comparison to earlier Disney fairytale adaptions, but nothing out of line. After all, Ariel is a mermaid...a T-shirt over her fin would just look wrong. Ursula is a powerhouse of menacing sexuality, over-the-top in every way it is possible to be over-the-top in. That's a good part of her appeal as a villain; her theatricality alludes to her desire not just to rule the entire ocean, but to do it in a very big, flamboyant way.

    This movie was, in short, a milestone in so many ways. Visually beautiful, moving, exciting...clearly some of Disney's absolute best.

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