Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mermaid Movie: Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989)

When most people think of mermaids, the first image they think of is redhaired Ariel sitting on a rock, singing about wanting to become human and walk on land. I have always and will forever love The Little Mermaid. It's virtually impossible not to love it. I mean, it's a Disney classic, right?

Maybe the reason I loved the film and specifically Ariel was because I found her very relatable. No, not because I also have fins and sing and dance with talking sea creatures, but because I have always wanted to experience more. I've always wanted to venture out into the world and experience new things for myself. Plus, we're both redheads. Gingers need to stick together; there's so very few of us out there!

Ariel definitely was a "fish out of water," no pun intended. She wanted to explore the human world and was always looked strangely at because of her interest in the world above the sea. I think teenagers would be able to relate to Ariel well because of her clashing relationship with her father. Sometimes, teens feel like parents just don't understand, and Ariel definitely conveys this emotion throughout the movie, right up to when she finally mends things with her father as she sails off into the sunset.

Unlike other Disney princesses, Ariel is a strong and winning heroine. When she wants something, she doesn't just swoon and prance around, hoping her prince comes to her rescue. She goes out and gets it herself. In fact, she's the one who rescues the prince, not the other way around! Eric does save Ariel's life at the end, so they reciprocate. The movie doesn't have the usual sexist approach where the macho hero saves the damsel in distress. Ariel and Eric are equals, Ariel maybe moreso due to her superhuman nature.

Ursula is also the best villain of all time, hands down. She knows what she wants, and she doesn't waste time bumbling around like other villains. She devices a plan, uses her manipulative and vindictive skills, and she takes charge. This film definitely has a cast of take-charge female characters, which is one reason I like it so much.

All the side characters are wonderful, too. I love both Flounder and Sebastian, especially Flounder (he's just so cuddy-looking, even for a fish!), and Sebastian might come across as strict and demanding, but he's actually loving and caring.

Disney is timeless and ageless. Seventeen years after first watching The Little Mermaid, I can still watch it and fall back into the happy, carefree mood I always feel when watching it, all the way up to my favorite scene when King Triton finally realizes how much Ariel loves Eric and that while he will miss his youngest daughter, he knows it is for the best. With a wave of his magical trident, King Triton transforms Ariel's tail into a pair of legs, finally making her human and letting her sail off into the sunset with the prince of her dreams.

I will always have a special place in my heart for The Little Mermaid, and no matter how old I get, I can always turn back and smile on Ariel and all her underwater friends.

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