Saturday, February 23, 2013

20 Things You Didn't Know About Disney's The Little Mermaid

  1. Plans for Disney to adapt The Little Mermaid as an animated feature date back to the late 1930s, following the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The film would have been an anthology of several Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales but was scrapped.
  2. The character of Sebastian was originally named Clarence and was written as an English butler. It was songwriter Howard Ashman who proposed making him Jamaican. Imagine the lame ass version of "Under the Sea" Clarence would've give us...
  3. "Part of Your World", often championed as the film's theme song, was almost cut, as test audiences felt it slowed down the story upon early screenings of the unfinished film. Voice actress Jodi Benson recorded the song in the dark to simulate an underwater feeling.
  4. Ursula's design was based on a famous drag queen named Divine. Several actresses were considered for the role, including Bea Arthur and Roseanne, before Pat Carroll was eventually cast. Luckily, Roseanne made her animated Disney debut in the smash hit Home on the Range, which I'm sure everyone has seen and identifies as one of Disney's best films.
  5. Over one million bubbles were drawn for the film, which was so artistically and technologically demanding that it required the most special effects for any Disney film since 1940's Fantasia at the time.
  6. The Little Mermaid is the first film in the Disney Renaissance, a period from the late 1980s to early 2000s that revitalized the company after almost two decades of commercial and critical flops.
  7. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy make appearances in the film. If you look closely, you can see them sitting in the audience during the Daughters of Triton concert. Kermit the Frog allegedly also appears in this scene, but I've personally never been able to find him.
  8. In early drafts of the film's script, Ursula was King Triton's sister. Hints of this original plot are still present in the film, such as when an embittered Ursula reminisces about her days at the palace. The Broadway adaptation of the film utilizes the brother/sister plot; when their father, Poseidon, died, he bestowed upon Ursula the magic shell she uses to extract Ariel's voice and gave Triton, well, his triton.
  9. The film is infamous for its controversial phallic imagery. Many viewers have reported that priest in the wedding scene appears to have an erection. Though Disney denied the claims, dismissing the bump as the priest's knee, the ambiguous animation was digitally removed from future releases of the film. Additionally, the castle on the original videotape cover was criticized for its phallic towers.
  10. This is Ben Wright's final film. He voiced Grimsby, Eric's butler. When Wright was hired, producers had no idea that he was the voice of Roger in 101 Dalmatians. He had to tell them.
  11. Ariel was deliberately given redhead to distinguish her from the main character in the mermaid film Splash, which was released just five years prior. Ironically, Disney almost passed on The Little Mermaid once more because of its similarities with the Splash sequel the company was developing.
  12. Alyssa Milano was one of several inspirations for Ariel's design. At the time, Milano was a teenager starring on Who's the Boss?
  13. Christopher Daniel Barnes was only 16 years old when he recorded his dialog for Prince Eric. He later voiced Prince Charming in the Cinderella sequels.
  14. The Little Mermaid was the first animated feature nominated for a Golden Globe Best Picture award in any genre.
  15. The film was the first Disney film to win an Academy Award since The Rescuers 13 years prior. It won Best Song ("Under the Sea") and Best Score.
  16. A portrait of a couple bearing a striking resemblance to Aurora and Phillip from Sleeping Beauty hangs in Eric's castle during his first dinner with Ariel. Leave it to the cray Disneyphiles to theorize that Eric is a descendant of the royal couple.
  17. Flounder does not resemble a flounder in the slightest. He is actually intended to be an Atlantic blue tang.
  18. To capture the movement of Ariel's hair underwater, animators studied footage of Sally Ride in space.
  19. The King and the Grand Duke from Cinderella appear at Eric and Vanessa's wedding.
  20. Much of Ariel's land attire pays tribute to the Disney princesses who came before her. This is most obvious in her pink ballgown: the puffy shoulders come from Snow White; the long sleeves and neckline come from Aurora; the large skirt with layered fabric comes from Cinderella's ballgown, while the color comes from Cinderella's original dress that her stepsisters destroy.