📽️ Disney Time – The Little Mermaid

List Item:  Watch The Disney Animated Canon
Progress: 28/57Title: The Little Mermaid
Year: 1989

Right, so before I start talking about this film… in real time it’s been nearly a week since I watched Oliver & Company, have had the interview and AMAZINGLY got the job. The level of relief over the tension that has been accumulating for the last six months is extraordinary, which might go a long way to explain the amount of happy tears I shed whilst watching this film. That, and this is just a legitimately amazing film.

When you consider that this film was released a year after Oliver & Company, the leap in the scope and quality of film-making is beyond belief. Makes a bit more sense when you look at a lot of The Little Mermaid’s key personnel and see that they are shared with The Great Mouse Detectivebut there is still a noticeable increase in quality that signposts this as the beginning of the Disney Renaissance.

Firstly, there’s the songs. Whilst music has nearly always been important to the Disney films, this is their first major musical since The Jungle BookHowever, unlike The Jungle Book, there are no filler songs in The Little Mermaid. Not only that, but they went all out when creating the cinematic sequences. The level of detail that you see in all the fish in ‘Under The Sea’ is unlike anything that’s been done before in Disney.

It’s also worth noting that, unlike the songs in films like Oliver & Company and Robin Hoodthe songs in The Little Mermaid are near universally used for character development, moving the plot on or a mixture of both. I mean look how much we learn about Ursula’s past and her current motivations from ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’, then compare it to ‘Why Should I Worry?’ where all we get is that Dodger is meant to be cool… and that’s about it.

I can already see just how long this blog post is becoming and I need to edit some of the things I wanted to say otherwise I’ll be writing this until 2 am. In the end, The Little Mermaid sees Disney returning to their fairy tale roots that hadn’t been re-visited for 30 years (the last fairy tale film being Sleeping Beauty), just updated for a more modern audience.

Not only has the animation received yet another upgrade, but so have the characterisations. Eric is the first Disney prince who feels like they tried to create an actual human male rather than an archetype, King Triton is incredibly relatable as the father trying to protect his 16-year-old daughter from very real danger and then there is Ariel. She is an incredibly active participant in realizing her own aspirations (even more so than Cinderella) and is the closest we have so far gotten to a more feminist heroine – something that won’t be completely realized until Belle in Beauty & The Beast.

On the whole this is just a magical film that still holds up between childhood and adult viewings. It was so great to see it again and soon I’ll be getting to the ridiculously acclaimed run of Beauty & The Beast, The Lion King and Aladdin. First, however, will be The Rescuers Down Under – one of the very few sequels in the canon. I enjoyed the original far more than I remembered, so I hope this continues with their trip to Australia.

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