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This is an easy one to recommend adding to the collection, but is it worth it to go for this deluxe 3D Blu-ray edition....?
Buena Vista / 83 Minutes / 1989 / Rated G / Street Date: October 1, 2013
The seventies and eighties weren’t particularly great decades for the Walt Disney Studios animation department. The Rescuers, The Fox and The Hound, and The Great Mouse Detective weren’t good enough to achieve the status of earlier Disney works. Christmas of ‘86 brought serious competition. Steven Spielberg and the folks at Universal released An American Tail, which was not only a hit, but was the highest-grossing animated title ever up to that time. It was make or break time at Disney Animation.
The Little Mermaid is derived from the Hans Christian Anderson tale of Ariel, the beautiful mermaid obsessed with the forbidden world above, but forced to live her days simply dreaming of it. She basks in the glory of her secret stash, artifacts recovered from sunken ships she’s hidden away in a cave. When she disobeys her father, King Triton (Kenneth Mars), and sneaks a peek at the crew of a passing ship, she instantly falls in love with a handsome prince. She’s driven to drastic measures to get her man. Ursula the sea witch, festering from being banished from Ariel’s father’s court, makes Ariel an offer the little mermaid can’t refuse. But there's a price to be paid. Ariel may lose her soul to Ursula if the Prince doesn't fall in love with her by the time the sun sets on the third day of her voiceless time spent with him as a human.
The film is sprinkled with Disney animation archetypes. A strong, headstrong, young woman protagonist: Ariel (Jodi Benson). Animal sidekicks for comic relief: Scuttle (Buddy Hackett) and Flounder (Jason Marin). Another sidekick in the form of elder wisdom: Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright). An evil villain or villainess, Ursula (Pat Carroll), and her obedient, evil minions, Flotsam & Jetsam (Paddi Edwards). And, of course, the heroine’s love interest: Prince Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes). Also notable are the songs and the score. Alan Menken (music) and Howard Ashman (lyrics) won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, “Under the Sea” and Alan Menken won the Academy Award for Best Original Score.
The Little Mermaid was certainly a suitable answer to claims that others were then doing Disney animation better than Disney; it was a true return to form. It had all the elements that made Disney’s early animated films classics. It has beautiful animation that, at the time, was virtually free of any computer assistance, memorable songs that lived in your brain long after the film was over, and a great story that appealed, not only to children, but to adults as well. That is why The Little Mermaid has gone on to join the ranks of earlier classics like Pinocchio and Peter Pan.