Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Disney's Magic (Part 5)

Movie Poster in 1989
Finally, a Disney princess that has no Brothers Grimm version, The Little Mermaid. Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale of The Little Mermaid, the main similarity of both versions is the desire of the mermaid for immortality. However, Disney's version of this fairy tale has a major twist at the end, where instead of the little mermaid turning into bubbles and into a soul-like-existence, Disney made the fairy tale into one that has a happy ending, whereby King Triton, the Sea King, transforms Ariel (that has now returned to her mermaid figure again) to a human to be able to live with Eric. Furthermore, in this production, the reason the film's markedly lighter emotional tone is to make it a musical. Hence, there's the songs that is strongly associated with the film such as 'Kiss the Girl', 'Under the Sea', 'Part of Your World' and 'Les Poissons', that will ring a bell in our heads when we think about this film. To add on, famous songwriters, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken were engaged in musical numbers and co-create the film with Disney Studio. Ah, and before I forget, this film was produced in 1989, which was quite a few years ago (22 years ago to be exact).

Re-released poster in 1997

Apart from that, Disney studio added in extra characters into the film, such as Sebastian. the red crab (who is King Triton's trusted servant to care over Ariel), Flounder, the yellow and blue striped tropical fish (Ariel's best friend), Scuttle, the seagull (whom Ariel get advice about human facts) and Flotsam and Jetsam (2 moray eels that are Ursula's companion). Another main feature that Disney Studios altered from the original version of the Little Mermaid is the role played by the sea witch, Ursula. In the original adaptation, the sea sorceress is just a neutral enabler that turns the mermaid into human, but in the Disney's version, Ursula is modified into an antagonist that not only tries to ruin Ariel's happiness but in the meantime try to overthrow King Triton's throne as Sea King. By the way, Ursula is featured as part human and part octopus. Disney Studio had also put more emphasize on King Triton, in which the film shows a father's love towards his daughter, especially when King Triton was willing to hand over his powerful trident to Ursula to save her and when he allowed her to become human despite himself being xenophobic towards humans. Thus, not only audience get to embrace the qualities of good over evil but a strong bond of family (father to daughter) in this film, which is absent in Snow WhiteCinderella and the Sleeping Beauty.

King Triton
Ariel with Sebastian and Flounder
To me, I find the Little Mermaid to be rather rebellious. As she constantly fantasize about Eric and the world above the sea, thus leading her to have a strong desire to become mortal. She was even willing to seek the sea witch's help as to 'grow' legs in order to be able to meet her prince on land. In return, she exchanged her sweet voice via a contract signed with the worst enemy of her father, Ursula. Even though so, I still like watching the part where Ariel spend time with Eric and all the humorous things she does in the film (thanks to wrong advice given by the seagull).
Ariel with a statue of Eric
Ariel signing a contract with Ursula
Ariel has her vocal box removed in exchange for legs
 Anyhow, as a signature feature of Disney production, the Little Mermaid ended with a happy note, whereby Ariel is able to live with her love, Eric (even though she would not be able to be with her underwater family). I wonder how the plot may have changed if instead of Ariel becoming human, why not Eric become a merman (Then I bet the story will then focus on Eric instead of Ariel, which wouldn't have so much drama). Who cares, as long as the 2 love-birds live happily ever after!

Ariel and Eric on a boat
Ariel wedded to Eric

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