The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
Peter Pan (1953)
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
The Sword in the Stone (1963)
The Fox and the Hound (1981)
The Black Cauldron (1985)
The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
Oliver & Company (1988)
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Brother Bear (2003)
The Little Mermaid
Ariel is the youngest daughter of the King of the Seas, Triton. Unlike her other sisters, content in their aquatic palace, Ariel is fascinated by the world of the humans. Her desire to be part of their world only increases after she falls in love with Prince Eric, and saves him from a sinking ship. She makes a bargain with the sea witch Ursula, a cruel sorceress seeking revenge on King Triton: in return for her voice, Ariel will be made a human for three days, and the Prince must kiss her, or else she will become Ursula's prisoner.
The Little Mermaid was the first fairy tale animated by Disney since the late 1950s. It was a pretty big gamble. The idea had been considered before, in the 1940s, but was shelved indefinitely. Disney's animation hadn't been doing very well in the 1980s, and in recent years they had really toned down the musical aspects of their films to only one or two songs. But they took the risk, and it paid off handsomely, earning over $100 million at the box office alone and spawning a brilliant marketing franchise that continues to prosper today.
The Little Mermaid was the first Disney movie I can remember really experiencing as a child. Sure, I saw Bambi and Cinderella and others, but I remember playing mermaids with my friends in preschool, pretending the dome-shaped jungle gym was the palace and that we were talking to fish as we swam about the ocean of tanbark. I remember playing with Ariel dolls and going to birthday parties with Ariel's face on the cake. As I was explaining to Seanie the other day, The Little Mermaid was my first Disney Princess movie, and no little girl forgets her first princess movie.
Luckily, it's a really great movie so I don't have to feel guilty or embarrassed by my fondness for the film. The animation looks fantastic. The plot moves quickly but neatly, so there's no really unexplained, trailing plot threads. (Well, save one: What's Ursula's relationship to Triton? The musical that came out a year or two ago explains that she's Triton's sister, but this isn't made clear in the film.)
Speaking of Ursula, isn't she a fabulous villain? I love her. First of all, her design is excellent. Squid tentacles and the face of Divine combine to make a fantastically creepy diva oozing with loathing and menace. I love the way her song "Poor Unfortunate Souls" builds from a slow, waltz-like number to the frenzied final stanza as she urges Ariel to give up her voice. Ursula is friggin' INSANE. The villainess makes the movie, and she's so awesome.
I think Seanie was dreading watching The Little Mermaid because it's a girly movie, but even he admits that it's pretty great. He was actually pretty stunned by how much he enjoyed the picture.
Sure, I could go on a rant about how Ariel's anatomically ridiculous - her waist is smaller than her head - and that as feisty as she is, she still needs a man to come and save her in the end. I could complain that Disney completely ignored the moral themes Andersen put into his fairy tale, and ignored his tragic ending. But I just can't care. I like the movie too much.
some of those stars might be for nostalgia's sake, but it really is a good movie.
Ursula defies you not to like The Little Mermaid.