Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Disn-A-Thon: The Little Mermaid (1989)

Loosely based upon the story by Hans Christian Andersen. Ariel, youngest daughter of King Triton, is dissatisfied with life in the sea. She longs to be with the humans above the surface, and is often caught in arguments with her father over those "barbaric fish-eaters". She goes to meet Ursula, the Sea Witch, to strike a deal, but Ursula has bigger plans for this mermaid and her father. [imdb]
The Little Mermaid enters in the era known as the Disney Renaissance.  After a decade of only a few animated films, most of them relative failures, The Little Mermaid is very deservedly given credit for breathing life back into the animation department.

There's a wonderful behind-the-scenes featurette on the set that goes into strong detail about the making of the film.  This made me happy, because the past eight(8) or so films I've watched have been very bare as far as information goes.  A little bit that I found only in the commentary (yes, there's thankfully a commentary track) is that Walt himself had been planning a version of The Little Mermaid back in the 30's.  Coincidentally, many of the story changes his story men had made were also many of the same changes made in the 80's by writers who had no clue there had even been any prior work...  Perhaps that had something to do with the film's success.

I list this film as my third favourite of the set, behind Lady and The Tramp and Dumbo... and I've been complaining about the lack of dark-ride attration at Disneyland for years.  Turns out they planned one back in the early 90's, but the project never went beyond development.  For this, I blame some of Eisner's people, specifically the head of the parks.  I don't recall his name, but he's the guy who stated that people only went to Disneyland for the food.  Anyways, there's a special feature of a digital animated ride-thru of the attraction, which I think is glorious.  Actually, I maintain that for EVERY movie that has a corresponding attraction, they should be doing this...

Thankfully, I think they are planning to re-work and finally complete the Little Mermaid ride soon, for California Adventure.  Good enough.

So yeah, the music is always fun on this film, the story is great, and I think there's an energy to the movie that hasn't existed since The Jungle Book.  I am sure the energy played a huge role in making this film a success... and I'm glad it did, or we may never have had any of the films to come.

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