Friday, January 17, 2014

More on The Little Mermaid

Yesterday, one of the commenters asked why my discussion of The Little Mermaid only discussed piddling little things.  That's because I was trying to be nice.  If I had to be honest, I'd say that The Little Mermaid is a bad movie with great songs.

The animation is definitely sub-par for Disney.  Ariel's head grows and shrinks erratically, from shot to shot.  Her hair usually stays the same size (not always), and whenever she pops her head out of water, sometimes it's dripping wet (like when she watches Eric on the ship) and sometimes it's 100% dry (like in meeting Scuttle).

The timing is also off. In the first part of the movie, it switches from night to day, depending on the mood of the scene.  Oh, it's daytime when Ariel sings Part of Your World?  Guess what, two seconds later, it's nighttime while the humans are on the ship and using fireworks.  Ten minutes later, after the drowning scene, Ariel takes Eric directly to shore and it's daytime again, so she can sing a reprise.

The end of the movie is more consistent with what time of day it is, but I think that's only because "Ariel has three days as a human" is a major plot point.  Either way, I would demand a refund, because Ariel's three days is more like two and a half days, since she doesn't become human at sunset.

Gah, the end of the movie is kind of frustrating.  What happened after Kiss the Girl?  Are we seriously supposed to believe that Eric and Ariel rode back to the palace in silence?  Like, he tries kissing her once, then seems to completely give up on the idea.  THAT IS DUMB.  Here is a more realistic version of what happened after the song:

Eric: Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean for the boat to tip over! Are you okay?
Ariel: (nods and smiles at Eric reassuringly)

Eric: (helping her up) We...we should get back to the castle and dry off.

Ariel: (grabs Eric and makes out with him passionately)

Sebastian: Sweet hot lovin', that should end the spell! 


Seriously, Ariel has no sense of urgency when it comes to kissing Eric.  I know that you can't rush true love, but she could at least do something.  There is no reason why Ariel cannot initiate the kiss with Eric.  The fact that she doesn't even try is stupid.

Speaking of stupid, I am upset that Sebastian does not tell King Triton about the deal with Ursula, until it is literally too late for him to do anything about it. Sebastian threatens to tell Triton immediately, and then he doesn't because, um...true love or something.  Sure, that's a good reason for Sebastian to stay in the human palace where people keep trying to kill him.

Did Ursula-Disguised-As-A-Human really intend to marry Prince Eric?  If the wedding hadn't been interrupted, they would have been married before sundown.  Just saying.

My girlfriend and I both got confused by Ursula's introduction scene.  She was confused as to where Flotsam and Jetsam are during the scene.  It seems like they are in Ursula's house, because she talks to them.  However, they can't be in her house, because Ursula's magic glass which is connected to their eyes shows what Ariel is doing.  So either they were spying on Ariel already, or Ursula doesn't really need their eyes to spy on Ariel.

The thing which confused me was Ursula's throwaway line, about the days before King Triton showed up, when she lived in the palace.  What is this?  Ursula used to live in the palace, and King Triton dethroned her?  Why can't we learn more about that backstory?  That seems more interesting than "whiny teenager feels misunderstood by parents".

Also, dang, King Triton is abusive.  I bet that's the reason his wife is no longer around.


In a more direct response to the commenter, Ariel could not have used tides to get on and off the shore that quickly.  She is so far away from the shore that she would have had to bring Eric there during high tide, then she waited two hours until low tide.  Of course, the movie is inconsistent about how far inland they are (the far-off shot has them several feet away, the shot of Eric standing has him two inches away), so I guess there's some wiggle room.  Either way, I maintain that there should be marks on the sand somewhere in that scene.


James said...

Thank you! Other than songs, I’ve never liked The Little Mermaid. I seen “interviews,” I guess, about the making of the movie. The animators said they spent a lot of time on Ariel’s hair underwater because it was a challenge to have it always flowing and in movement. I think maybe they spent too much time on her hair, and other scenes suffered artistically as a result. The end scene, where Ariel and Eric are fighting Ursula in the storm, I think that took a total of 8 months to draw, just that ending sequence. They said it took a lot of effort to get (once again) Ariel’s hair right with being in the water, out of the water, the wind and rain blowing when she was out, etc. I get it—she has good hair. But let’s focus on other things, okay?

The kissing thing, I think, goes back to the fact she is just 16, which is another part of the movie I don’t like. How old is Eric? Either he’s 16, or he’s an adult. So, Disney is either saying teenagers should get married if they are in love (even though Ariel and Eric only knew each other for a week, tops, and we all know how much teenagers find true love on a weekly basis), or adults should marry 16 year olds. Creepy. And this is a late ‘80s, early ‘90s movie. It’s not like it’s 1950s Cinderella. Tangled has Rapunzel at almost 18, but at the end, Flynn says that it took years and years of asking before they got married. So at least with that movie, we can assume they knew each other for a good while, and got married in their 20s. That’s a lot better than a 16 year old girl marring someone she knew for barely a week.

I don’t get Ursula’s marriage to Eric either. She says in her little song before the marriage, that she just wants to get Ariel and then the ocean will be hers. She’s not interested in anything Eric has. The only thing I can think of is that by marrying her, Ariel would have lost the bet and turned back into a mermaid. Then Ursula probably would have just grabbed her and jumped back into the ocean, forgetting about Eric and her human marriage. But the deal was that all Ariel had to do was get a true love kiss from him. It didn’t have to be a marriage kiss. If Eric is under Ursula’s spell, why didn’t she kiss him in the castle? How does being married nullify the true marriage kiss on Ariel’s part? If Eric is married, does that mean he can’t give a true love kiss to anybody else? Just because it’s marriage, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s true love.

I haven’t seen it, but I heard that the Broadway production of The Little Mermaid explains Ursula’s backstory about her and Triton. Of course that was made years after the movie, so…

Anonymous said...

Ummm.... this off topic but it says you posted this at 9 but I was on here at 9 and saw no post

Anonymous said...

Wait... it meant west coast time. Never mind.

Katie said...

Yes!! I love Disney and I always have, but I don't like The Little Mermaid. I used to when I was little but now that I think about it more she is probably my least favorite princess. For a bunch of the reasons stated here, but also, Ariel is kind of a brat. She doesn't take into consideration her family's feelings, and does her own thing. Everyone says she is a strong princess because she stood up for her beliefs and she should be looked up to, but I disagree completely. People should be looking up to Aurora instead who went against her feelings to make her family happy.

Plus they changed the ending of the original story. In the original fairytale, the prince doesn't fall in love with her so the sea witch tells her she can kill him so she will become a mermaid, or she turns into sea foam. Well she won't kill the prince and so she turns into sea foam as a punishment. The story is really a lesson in obedience but they changed it so it would be a happy ending. The result is not so good.

Anonymous said...

Katie, Aurora is one of my favorite Disney princesses, so your comment made me happy!

I thought that in the original story of the "Little Mermaid" the mermaid gained a soul in the end. Since she put the prince's happiness before her own, she did a truly loving deed and through such a selfless act of true love she was given a soul and brought into Heaven. That's what I thought anyway...

Emily said...

I have heard that an original plot point of the movie was that Ursula was supposed to be King Triton's sister, but that all got cut. That's probably where the line about her living in the palace comes from.

The same thing happened in Beauty and the Beast. Chip was originally supposed to be a music box instead of a teacup, and in one scene right before the townspeople storm into the castle you can still see the music box because it never got taken back out. In that scene it doesn't really cause confusion like the stuff in The Little Mermaid does though because there's a whole pile of magical objects around at that point.

Katie said...

Anon @2:31, I guess we read different versions. Hehe, But I looked it up and there is that version too. You are right though, she does commit an act of love which saves her in the end. Maybe to make up for the act of selfishness she committed in the start? It is an interesting tale that's for sure. I am just disappointed that Disney changed the ending. The original story had so much meaning. And Aurora is my favorite (or second favorite) too!! I'm glad there is someone else who thinks so. :P

Anonymous said...

You should anaylze all of the Disney movies like this. It would make for some interesting posts. I love how detailed and specific you are in your explanations.

Anonymous said...

Mehehehe xDD all to true, the head changes have always bugged me. I do love a good Disney movie, but like Katie said, this one just.... bleh....