FFlashback: The Little Mermaid (1989)

Who doesn’t love a bit of Disney? Here’s the first in our series of retrospectives on the so-called Disney Renaissance…


The One Where: Based on Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, The Little Mermaid follows Ariel as she longs to be part of the human world. Unfortunately, Ursula the Sea Witch plans to use the girl for her own scheme to destroy Ariel’s father, King Triton…

Star Turns: As is often the case with Disney, the comedy sidekick and the villain steal the show away from the main character. Sebastian remains one of the most memorable little critters from the House of Mouse. Meanwhile, Ursula is one of the most enjoyably evil villains, sporting a brilliant design. Disney clearly loved her, too, as subsequent baddies will borrow from her liberally – particularly Hercules’ Hades.

Best Song: The soundtrack is one of the strongest features of the film – with ‘Part of Your World’, ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ and ‘Kiss The Girl’ all being big earworms. The best is definitely ‘Under The Sea.’ Just reading those words gets it stuck in your head. Sorry about that…Take it from me.

Verdict: The Little Mermaid’s importance in the history of Disney cannot be overstated, as it restarted the studios’ cinematic dominance. Looking back at it now, Mermaid clearly sets out the formula which following films would repeat – young hero/ine (whose only friends are a band of animals) longs for adventure and is exploited by a trickster villain while falling in love. As such, it feels quite familiar – not to mention its ‘love-at-first-sight’ story seems trite in a post-Frozen world. Still, it’s always worth a trip under the sea. Damn, did it again, sorry.

Hidden Mickey: During the underwater ceremony at the start of the film, King Triton swims above the crowd. Amongst the merpeople, you can glimpse Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. Who knew they could breathe underwater?



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