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By Josh Haley, Chicago Agricultural

The Little Mermaid is a movie that I’ve been wanting to cover for quite a while, not just because it’s one of my all time favorite Disney films, but because it was also the beginning of a new era in the world of animation. Starting in 1970 with The Aristocats (which I may discuss in a later blog), Disney began going through a period in which not as many of their films were critically or financially successful. This period is referred to as the “Disney Dark Age.” During this time, it started to seem as though Disney had lost their magic touch. However in 1989, The Little Mermaid was released in theaters, and not only would it remind us of what made Disney such a special company but it would also allow for a new sense of hope. This film was the beginning of a new era known at the “Disney Renaissance Age” and starting from here, Disney would go on to release hit after hit. These included Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin (, The Lion King, Mulan, etc.  Hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll understand why it was such a success and also a huge favorite of mine.

Without revealing much of the story, Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) is a rebellious, free-spirited mermaid princess with an ardent fascination with the human world, much to her father’s, King Triton, dismay. Although Ariel knows that contact with the human world is strictly forbidden, it doesn’t stop her from dreaming of someday exploring the world above her and also keeping a secret collection of human objects. These details transition us to the iconic song, ‘Part Of Your World,’ which I will shamelessly admit to knowing all the lyrics to by heart.

♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ “You want thingamabobs? I got twenty! But who cares? No big deal, I want more!”  ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬

Eventually a terrible hurricane blows in and Ariel rescues an unconscious human prince, Eric. Ariel immediately falls in love with the prince but leaves before he could get a good look at her. Although Ariel already had desires of one day being a part of the human world, Prince Eric had now made her feel determined to do so and one way or another she would.

♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ “I don’t know when. I don’t know how, but I know something starting right now. Watch and you’ll see, someday I’ll be part of your world!”

Sebastian, a sea crab and loyal servant to King Triton, tries to convince Ariel that the sea is her home and that nothing can compare to life under the waters. According to him, the human world is a mess and life under the sea is better than anything we got up here. This transitions to another iconic song, ‘Under the Sea.’

♪ ♫ ♩ ♬”We got no troubles, life is the bubbles, under the sea!” ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬

Ariel, while still a naive teenager, is more than willing to risk everything to be with her love, Prince Eric. Will she ever be part of his world? Is it worth the consequences? You’ll have to sea it yourself to find out!

Now, I’d like to talk about the voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson. Benson provided both the singing and speaking voice for Ariel and in my opinion, she’s one of the main reasons why this film was such a hit. Benson is a talented woman because of her skills as an actress and her awesome charisma. She’s the original voice of Ariel, and has been ever sense. She simply cannot be replaced. In 2011, she was added to the ‘Disney Legends’ hall of fame.

As previously stated, this movie was a major success. So successful that it resulted in the creation of The Little Mermaid franchise. Ariel is a Disney Princess, you’ll almost always find her depicted on toys, clothing, bags, costumes, and other merchandise. The success of this film even led to the production of both a sequel and a prequel film, as well as video games, and soundtracks.

Overall, The Little Mermaid is a timeless classic that continues to remain relevant with people today, and while it’s not a film that I grew up with, it’s still a great movie because of it’s effective story telling and memorable songs. This is an opinion that I believe holds much water!

INTERESTING FACT: While originally launched in 1989, The Little Mermaid was reissued to theaters in 1997 and has also been released on home video numerous times in the form of VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray.

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