Sunday, October 15

The Little Mermaid DVD Review

A few years ago, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Lion King and Aladdin were released on DVD. People made more a big deal out of Beauty and the Beast coming out. Lion King DVD was swimming with too much propaganda for crap, I was afraid this new The Little Mermaid DVD was going to be more of same not centered on the piece. And to my surprise, it is pretty good with a Making of which really goes in depth with the sort of period Disney was going through. If you are fan or not of Disney films or completely hate it, but you got to admit that if you were kid during that time you were affected by something from the film if it was the songs or some bit.

I hadn't seen the film in a while since I was 7 when it came out and it really is worth seeing again. You really don't know the labor of love that went through to make this film. You think Disney, you think a machine, a conglomerate with no feelings but this was a real labor of love. Watching the film again as an adult, you notice things like how some scenes seem empty of fish or other details that accompany scenes in the films mentioned above. The characters don't seem as detailed or filled in as in later films. They look like colorforms. When it was released in 1989 it was during a time where Disney did not have big hits, animated or not. During the 1980's, there was only The Great Mouse Dectective, The Black Cauldron [which is mentioned in the DVD and Disney pretty much disowned for nearly 15 years or so. Jeffrey Katzenberg--former chairman considered it too dark and cut a lot out of it. I still have video of myself at Disneyworld filming a wall of animated characters celebrating Walt Disney and I was puzzled who Taran, Princess Ellonwy and Gurgi were, as they were on the bottom of the wall.] and Oliver and Company (which was the first fresh Disney film I went to see at the theater, I had earlier saw Snow White and Bambi and Fantasia in the theater as they were re-released.).

The Little Mermaid was the film that saved them which they revel in on the DVD but don't mention how it is now kaput. The whole drawing department has dismantled and hopefully Steve Jobs and Pixar can bring it back. Thank god Aristocrats II and Dumbo II has been canceled, unfortunately Cinderella III has not been. Cinderella II was like, why did they do this??? Anyhoo, it was directed and written by Ron Clements and John Musker who really are great team together and had a chance to prove themselves. They really had to shell this out (no pun intended, really!) and their budget was small. The film experimented here and there with computers and the CAPS program but they couldn't go all out. They talk in the commentary that they couldn't fix flubs and only could do the ones they could afford. They notice the little errors here and there but you can barely notice unless they point it out. Seeing the film separate and alone, it really is a rebel. Not stuck in the Disney mold but really paying homage to it. It is own creature.

As for the film itself, people do dislike they made the end so happy but if you think about it, she had to give up a lot, her family and friends under the sea. My grrl buddy likes to point that she gave up who she was just for a man. That could be true but Ariel really is an unique rebel. The company didn't seem to do a lot of advertising or hoopla for the DVD but it is really good and a great treat. I didn't notice when I was young but it really is about a daughter and father. A daughter rebelling and wanting to be free and father learning to let go. You might think Ariel is a little idiot for trusting the witch and giving up who she is but Disney makes it fly. They got away with it. She knew the consquences and she felt them. Now, the original tale the mermaid wanted an immortal soul and was given one in the end but never got her true love. But it did show if you try, it is still worth it. She didn't get so bad. She died but hey, at least she got to exist on.

Funny things to mention where that Jeffrey Katzenberg actually admits that he made the huge error of wanting to cut out 'Part of the World' from the film. That sounds like blasphamy now (and maybe some of you hate the muscial aspects of the Disney flicks, but it is what saved the company and just when they stray from it is when they fail but I appluad them for trying with Atlantis but not Treasure Planet which has become the biggest failure out trumping the Black Cauldron.) Katzenberg really is a pendejo and he out loud says it but he really really is. He knew nothing of animation and wanted it to go faster. If you think Disney is too business well thank him.

Other interesting things that they planned Urusula (Everyone knows she was based on Divine and John Waters---who appears in the DVD doc---enjoys that fact) to be Triton's sister. Early on Ariel was to have a dolphin friend named Breaker along with Flounder but they thought she had too many friends and some of his go-getter personality rub off on Ariel which I agree was a better touch. Her adventerousness and Belle's bookie-ness from Beauty and the Beast really helped to crack out of the close-to-original like Snow, Adora, and Cinderella. I also love Scuttle, he was voiced by Buddy Hackett.

Also it is humbling they got inspiration from Disney's original plans for The Little Mermaid back in the 'Golden Age'. (They couldn't do it because of the Great Depression and Disney was really strapped for catch. Bambi and Fantasia really weren't an initial hit.) Also, they had come up with Ariel knowing what risk she took by loosing her voice and then noticed Disney had the same thoughts. Clements (which the camera strangely zooms into his crotch way too much in the doc) and Musker feel Disney was looking down a them guiding them. The songs were written by the team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (The Little Shop of Horrors play) who really didn't know much of movies. I belive Ashman put his heart and soul in the songs, the movie is truly truly a muscial out of any genre and the songs really move the movie along more than any other Disney film. It's not like they stop to sing like ahem.. ::cough:: Lion ::cough:: White ::cough:: oops, said too much. More of Ashman on my next post.