The Little Mermaid (movie)

From Academic Kids

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The Little Mermaid movie poster

The Little Mermaid is a Disney animated feature adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Little Mermaid. The film was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and first released on November 15, 1989 by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution. Grossing over $80 million domestically, this movie is given credit for breathing life back into the animated movie genre after a string of critical and commercial failures (The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective), signaling the start of a decade-long period of successful Disney movies.

An upcoming stage adaptation of the movie is planned with additional songs by Alan Menken and new lyricist Glenn Slater. The book for the musical has been completed by Doug Wright.

Contents

Plot

The film follows the story of a headstrong sixteen-year-old mermaid named Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson), who is dissatisfied with life under the sea. Ignoring the warnings of her father, King Triton (voiced by Kenneth Mars), the ruler of the merpeople, and the court musician, Sebastian the crab (voiced by Samuel E. Wright), Ariel and her best friend, a fish named Flounder (voiced by Jason Marin), often sneak up to the surface of the ocean. There, they collect human artifacts with the help of a goofy seagull named Scuttle (voiced by Buddy Hackett). Ariel knows that contact between the humans and merpeople is forbidden, but she longs to be part of the human world.

Worried about his daughter's behavior, Triton assigns Sebastian to look after her and report on her activities. Sebastian discovers that Ariel has been collecting all of the items she finds on the surface in a secret underwater grotto, but he decides not to tell Triton for Ariel's sake.

Unbeknownst to anyone, all of this is being observed by Ursula the sea witch (voiced by Pat Carroll), who for many years has been seeking a way to exact her revenge upon King Triton for banishing her from the kingdom. She sees Ariel as the perfect pawn in her quest to rule the seas.

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Ariel statue at a Toronto Disney Store location

That night, Ariel and Flounder travel again to the surface to watch a fireworks celebration for Prince Eric's birthday. Eric (voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes) is presented with a giant stone statue of himself, commissioned by his guardian, Grimsby, who is pressuring Eric to find a bride and marry, so that he can assume the throne. The birthday celebration is cut short when a violent storm moves in and Eric's ship is destroyed. Eric is lost at sea and almost drowns before he is saved by Ariel, who has taken a liking to the prince. She disappears just as he is awakening, and Eric finds himself enthralled by the memory of her beautiful singing voice.

Ariel spends the next morning floating around the underwater palace in a daze of love, and Triton attempts to extract from Sebastian the name of the person she is in love with. When he learns that his daughter is in love with a human, he becomes furious and destroys Ariel's grotto, including the stone statue from Eric's birthday party that Flounder had managed to find for her.

Ursula decides that now is the time to make her move, and she assigns her pet eels Flotsam and Jetsam (both voiced by Paddi Edwards) to bring Ariel to her underwater cave. There, Ursula makes a deal with the princess to transform Ariel into human form for three days. Within these three days, if she plans to remain a human, she must give Eric the "kiss of true love"; otherwise she will transform back into a mermaid at sunset on the third day. If this happens, Ursula will own her very soul and add her to her garden of lost souls, who have been transformed into polyps.

As agreed, Ursula casts her spells and changes Ariel into a human. As "payment", she takes Ariel's voice and makes her a mute, knowing that Eric remembers Ariel only by her voice. Sebastian and Flounder bring Ariel to the surface, where she is taken in by Eric. He has no idea who Ariel is and what she has done for him, and she is unable to tell him.

While Ariel enjoys living in the human palace and spending time with Eric, Sebastian, Flounder and Scuttle try to get Ariel and Eric to kiss, while Ursula is trying to prevent the very same. Taking the guise of a beautiful young human girl named Vanessa, Ursula appears onshore, singing in Ariel's voice, which is housed in a magic conch shell around "Vanessa's" neck. She casts a spell of enchantment on Eric, who immediately arranges a marriage ceremony, much to Ariel's dismay. The ceremony is set to take place at sunset, which is coincidentally when Ariel's deal with Ursula ends. Sebastian runs to inform Triton, while Scuttle, Flounder and Eric's sheepdog Max stall the wedding. "Vanessa" is distracted, and the conch shell is broken, restoring Ariel's voice to her. Realizing that Ariel was the girl who saved him the night of his celebration, Eric rushes to kiss her, but he is too late; the sun sets and Ariel transforms back into a mermaid. "Vanessa" transforms back into Ursula, and, grabbing Ariel, disappears into the sea.

Triton catches up with Ursula and attempts to destroy the deal she made with Ariel, but is unable to do so. Before Triton's eyes, Ursula begins the process of transforming Ariel into a polyp, but then she offers Triton a deal: she will accept Triton's soul in the place of Ariel's. Triton accepts and is transformed into a helpless polyp, sacrificing himself for his daughter.

Ursula takes Triton's crown and trident and declares herself ruler of the sea. Ariel tries to stop her, and accidentally causes Ursula to destroy her pet eels. An enraged Ursula transforms into a giant and attempts to destroy Ariel. Eric sails out to sea and joins Ariel in the fight against Ursula, but the two of them appear to be no match for the behemoth, who drags wrecked ships from the bottom of the sea to try and prevent Eric from meddling. Eric jumps aboard one of the vessels and rams the bow of the ship through her heart, killing her.

With Ursula dead, the polyps in Ursula's garden, including Triton, are all changed back into merpeople. Noticing how unhappy his daughter is and how much she truly loves Eric, Triton decides to give Ariel what she wants. Ariel is changed permanently into a human, and she and Eric are wed. Both humans and merpeople turn out for the wedding, and Triton accepts Eric as a part of the family. Eric and Ariel sail away into the sunset to live happily ever after.

Significance

The Little Mermaid is an important film in animation history for many reasons:

  • It marks a return to the musical format that had made Disney films popular in the 1950s and 1960s, after a test run with Oliver and Company the year before. It features seven original songs by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman, who also served as the film's producer.
  • This film was the most special-effects-laden Disney film since Fantasia forty-nine years prior. Effects animation supervisor Mark Dindal estimated that over a million bubbles were drawn for this film, in addition to the use of other processes such as airbrushing, backlighting, superimposition, and some flat-shaded computer animation.
  • The happy-ending wedding scene at the close of the film marked the first use of CAPS (Computer Animation Production System) in a Disney feature. CAPS is essentially a digital ink-and-paint and animation production system that is used to take the animators' drawings and color them digitally, as opposed to the traditional method of tracing onto cels using ink and paint (see Traditional animation). The rest of The Little Mermaid is painted traditionally. All subsequent Disney features have used CAPS instead of traditional ink-and-paint.
  • This film and Beauty and the Beast signalled a renaissance in Disney animation; the films brought in large amounts of revenue and acclaim, and the Feature Animation department began significant expansion, going from about 300 artists at the time of this film to 2,400 by 1999.

Voice cast

Songs

  • Mysterious Fathoms Below, performed by Sailors
  • Daughters of Triton, performed by Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella and Alana
  • Part of Your World, performed by Ariel
  • Part of Your World (Reprise), performed by Ariel
  • Under the Sea, performed by Sebastian
  • Poor Unfortunate Souls, performed by Ursula and Ariel
  • Les Poissons, performed by Louis
  • Kiss the Girl, performed by Sebastian
  • Happy Ending, performed by Merpeople

Rumors surrounding the movie

Two urban legends circulated about The Little Mermaid, these two links lead to a site that debunks those legends.

  • A phallus (http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/mermaid.htm) was drawn on the video cover for the movie by a disgruntled artist.
  • A minister becomes aroused (http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/minister.htm) during the wedding scene in the movie.

TV series and sequel

Trivia

Glen Keane, the supervising animator for Ariel, mentioned of the Poxcahontas: 10th Anniversary Edition that Ariel looks exactly like his wife, without the fins.

External links

zh:小美人鱼(电影) fr:La Petite Sirne

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