Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ from 1989 is a classic and is a lot of people’s very favourite Disney film!
You’ve probably seen it a hundred times, either as a child with your own children, and think you know it inside-out!
Even so, here are six fascinating facts you may not know!
1. SECRET CAMEOS
Disney love to put little secret nods to their other creations in their films and TV shows, and ‘The Little Mermaid’ is no exception.
Eagle eyed viewers may notice that Mickey, Goofy and Donald make a secret cameo right at the beginning of the film!
They can be very briefly spotted in the audience when King Triton makes his entrance to the concert.
Next time you watch it see if you can spot them!
2. START OF AN ERA
The 80s was a bit of a dud decade for Disney on the whole. Competition from other studios was rife and their own films weren’t seeing the return that Disney wanted. They were in a bit of a creative rut.
‘The Little Mermaid’ put an end to that that!
With a change in approach that focussed more heavily on music, ‘The Little Mermaid’ was a huge critical and commercial success and marks the start of the period known as the ‘Disney Renaissance.’
One of Disney’s most celebrated eras, the ‘Disney Renaissance’ spanned from 1989 to 1999, and included such classics as ‘The Lion King’, ‘Beauty & The Beast’ and ‘Hercules’, and is one of the greatest reasons that 80s and 90s kids get so nostalgic about their childhoods … but it all started with ‘The Little Mermaid!’
3. END OF AN ERA
The Little Mermaid was the last Disney film to use traditional cel animation techniques.
The process used hand-painted backgrounds, as well as hand-painted sheets of acetate called cels on which the character and action were painted for every frame. If you consider that there would have been 24 frames for every second of animation, that’s a lot of acetate and a lot of painting.
The pieces of art actually used in the films up to 1989 can still be bought from specialist dealers and make for a great, unique piece of animation history that you can own. You can own a small part of those films!
4. NOT PART OF YOUR WORLD
Could you imagine the ‘The Little Mermaid’ without Ariel’s yearning ballad ‘Part of your World’?
It nearly happened!!
Disney’s then CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg felt the song didn’t test well with audiences and felt it needed to be cut. Directors Ron Clements and John Musker appealed for it to stay in and it’s a good thing they did! They convinced Katzenberg by reminding him that the same mistake was nearly made during the production of ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ where the studio very nearly cut the iconic ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ from the final film. Thankfully those filmmakers too thought better.
Have a listen to ‘Part of your World’ now and try to imagine the film without this iconic song in it!
5. LESSER KNOWN DISNEY LEGEND
‘Under the Sea’ and ‘Kiss the Girl’ are two of the most popular songs from the film, both sung by Sebastian the Crab.
Sebastian’s voice was provided by actor and singer Samuel E. Wright.
What you may not know is that Samuel is also famous for originating the role of Mufasa in the stage version of the Lion King and can be heard in the ‘Original Broadway Cast Recording.’
Have a listen to the two and see if you can tell it’s him!
6. ENDING THE DROUGHT
Considering that Disney has won 9 of the last 10 Oscars in the ‘Best Animated Feature’ category, it seems ridiculous that this is true, but, ‘The Little Mermaid’ was Disney’s first full-length Animated Film to win an Academy Award since Dumbo 48 years earlier!
Whilst other films that incorporated some animation like ‘Song of the South’ and ‘Mary Poppins’ had won Oscars since, as well as Disney’s ‘Winne the Pooh’ short, this still marked a major turning point in Disney’s history!
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
So there you have it!
Now you can go a wow your children, parents, and friends with your knowledge!
If you know any other fascinating facts about ‘The Little Mermaid,’ or would like to hear any facts about any other animated films, we’d love to hear from you in the comments and don’t forget come back soon for more great content on the MICblog.