No matter how many times it’s been re-told, most all of us probably consider Disney’s version of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, The Little Mermaid as our introduction. With its award winning music and colorful world, it’s a movie that, no doubt, many of us consider a classic.
Though we all know the story, here’s what this fairy tale is about.
The Little Mermaid (1989) Film Review
Life as the daughter of a King isn’t what Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) imagines it could be. She has every comfort, but living under her father’s rules as a mermaid isn’t all she wants. Ariel has dreams for a world “up there,” where she believes there’s freedom and she won’t be reprimanded by a stern father.
She becomes even more wishful of life on land when she rescues a handsome boy from shipwreck; a boy who also happens to be a prince. When he slowly wakes to hear an angelic voice and face leaning over him, he makes it his mission to discover who this girl is! Ariel too determines she’ll find a way to live on land, but in order to do this, and woo Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes), she must strike a bargain with the evil Ursula (Pat Carroll).
When I say I don’t remember my first exposure to this film, it’s the truth. I don’t remember the first time I watched this or what went through my little girl mind. Whatever it was, I was clearly captivated by this story since it’s this Disney movie I picked as my little girl obsession. Or so my parent’s tell me. I have child sweatshirts, and a character doll to prove this. But perhaps the most telling of my re-watches is that my aunt and uncle taped the film on VHS for me. Yes, this is right, kids. My childhood was all about those VHS tapes – because what was streaming!?
At the basic core, the story is about a curious girl who wants to see the world; something many of us relate to. Of course, along the way, she finds her dream guy and she has to fight off an evil sea creature, but the heart of the story remains. This wouldn’t be a Disney classic otherwise, right?
In more recent years, Disney’s heroines have changed drastically; and their heroes become less relevant (but this is for another day). Nonetheless, I’m still a girl from the old school of thought who believes these original Disney characters are still relevant. Ariel may not be the franchise’s most fierce heroine, but she’s memorable, she has a good heart and let’s face it, the girl has amazing hair.
Perhaps its greatest achievement is its music, which is familiar to so many. Between the fun and bright ‘Under the Sea’ (who else loves Sebastian?) or the romantic and pretty ‘Kiss the Girl,’ the music is unforgettable. Plus, the vocals are stunning! Rumor has it, this film also “saved” Disney following more than one box office disappointment. On this day, when The Little Mermaid first premiered almost 30 years ago, it brings joy to remember an iconic part of Disney’s animation journey.
Whether she’s in her watery home or living on land with her prince, Ariel’s story is a universal. It a story about a girl and a dream. So long as we remember to keep them based in the reality that is life, a little dreaming never hurt anyone.
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