Ariel is the youngest daughter of the sea King, Triton, who micromanages Ariel to keep her away from the water’s surface and the human world. However, adventurous and rebellious Ariel goes to the surface one night and falls in love with Prince Eric, a human she rescues from drowning. When Triton finds out he forbids Ariel from ever seeing him again and destroys her collection of human possessions. This devastates Ariel and she goes to Ursula the sea witch, and makes a deal to give Ursula her voice for three days as a human where she will have to get Eric to fall in love with her or return to the sea as part of Ursula’s possessions.
I am slightly geeky about The Little Mermaid. This movie came out around the time I was in second grade and my friends and I fell in love with it. We wanted to live in Ariel’s world, and I think subconsciously most of the women in my generation are attracted to men with dark hair and blue eyes because of Eric. More significantly, this is the film that started the Disney comeback that I remember as a child. After the wild success of The Little Mermaid you had Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin & The Lion King. These films revitalized Disney in the marketplace and took back the title of creators of ageless tales.
This film is pretty much a flawless masterpiece. It may be a fairy tale tweaked in the Disney way, but there is nothing wrong with that. The brother’s Grimm did not invent the fairy tale; most of the stories they wrote down existed in many different forms before they ever rewrote them in their depressing, typically tragic style. Disney’s version is simply another in a long line of versions of these stories and I love the way this one ends. Frankly, even now I hate to see the prince fall in love with another woman and make Ariel so upset she commits suicide by jumping back into the sea and becoming seafoam – seriously, if you don’t believe me go read the Grimm version and stop complaining that this version ends happy.
The hands down best thing about The Little Mermaid is of course the music. Having Sebastian the crab be the leader of an undersea orchestra, and Ariel’s special gift be her voice was a beautiful and brilliant move. It made the music and the characters more vibrant because it gave them a context within the film. To this day I can hear this music and still be delighted.
Directors & Writers: Ron Clements & John Musker
Ariel: If I become human, I'll never be with my father or sisters again.
Ursula: That's right. But - you'll have your man. Life's full of tough choices, innit?