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Disney's The Little Mermaid Hans Christian Andersen Pop Culture

How The Little Mermaid rescued the Walt Disney Studio’s

Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) in Disney’s The Little Mermaid

On November 14th, 1989, Disney’s The Little Mermaid premiered and it was the hit that the Walt Disney Studio’s desperately needed.

In the 1980’s the Walt Disney Studios wasn’t what it was today. It was a sinking ship, on the verge of bankruptcy with tanked films such as The Black Cauldron (1985), The Great Mouse Detective (1986), and Oliver and Company (1988).

So, the Walt Disney Studio’s brought in the creative forces of Michael Eisner as the new CEO and Jeffrey Katzenburg in charge of the Animation Division. Their mission was to bring the Walt Disney Studio’s back to life!

The idea to make an animated film of The Little Mermaid was from Ron Clements, who went to a bookstore and read the classic fairy of the same name, written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837. He pitched the idea at Jeffrey Katazeberg’s ‘gong show’ for the screenwriters to share their idea. Initially, The Little Mermaid was rejected for being too similar to Touchstone’s Splash. But that all changed, when Jeffrey read the two page treatment (synopsis) and wanted to expand on the story.

Ron Clements teamed with John Musker to write the script, but they knew they were missing an essential element to any Disney film: Music!

So, Disney recruited Howard Ashman and Alan Menken to write the music for The Little Mermaid. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, both had a musical theatre background. They had written Little Shop of Horrors in 1982, which was a smash success!

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken started writing the music for The Little Mermaid in 1988. They wrote all the iconic music in the soundtrack and gave Disney a revitalized broadway-treatment to it’s music. Howard Ashman incorporated the “want song” for the Disney heroine, that is now a key-part of the Disney musical storytelling, conveying what the female lead wanted most in life and how the audience roots for her to get to happy ending!

The music, wasn’t Howard’s only forte when it came to storytelling. Upon Howard’s arrival to the Walt Disney Studio’s, he had a meeting with the animators about how musical theatre and the Disney film were very much alike. The animators were so energized and revitalized by Howard’s speech that they were ready to prove themselves.

It was Howard Ashman’s idea to change the Sebastian’s ethnicity from British to Pacific Islander. He collaborated with John Musker and Ron Clements on storytelling elements for The Little Mermaid, including the film’s ending.

Jodi Benson had worked with Howard on the Broadway musical, Smile in 1986. He thought that she would be perfect to voice The Little Mermaid‘s headstrong heroine, Ariel. She auditioned and got the iconic role of Ariel, a year later.

Shortly after hearing Jodi Benson sing Part of Your World, Glen Keane, went to the studio and demanded that he draw Ariel. At first, the studio was hesitant to give him the position, but after some pushing, the studio agreed.

During an early screening of The Little Mermaid, a child had spilled their popcorn during Part of Your World.  Jeffrey wanted to pull the song, thinking it would be a flop, Howard famously told him, “Over my dead body!” Yet, when Glen spoke to Jeffrey about keeping the song in the film,  Jeffrey listened to him and Part of Your World  stayed in the film.

The Little Mermaid tells the story of Ariel, a adventurous, strong-headed, fiercely independent mermaid whose fascinated with the human world. Her father, King Triton is the ruler of Atlantica. He has a deep hatred for the human world and is overly protective of his daughter, Ariel.

When Ariel goes to the surface and rescues the handsome Prince Eric from a terrible storm out at sea, she is more determined then ever before to be human, so she could be with him. She visits the conniving and sassy sea-witch Ursula, who makes a lofty deal with her, so she could be human. Ariel has three days on land to be with Prince Eric, but she must give Ursula her voice. The only way for Ariel to remain human and stay on land with Prince Eric is through the “kiss of true love”. Ariel agrees to the deal and becomes human.

Meanwhile, on land,  Eric is searching for the girl who rescued him and is disappointed that he hasn’t found her yet. Thankfully, his trusty dog, Max sniffs out Ariel in her human form and leads Eric to her.

Upon meeting Ariel, Eric is certain that’s met her before, but he can’t remember where. So, he invites her to his palace to stay. They have an instant connection and Eric is smitten with Ariel, despite the fact that she can’t speak.

Three days pass, and Ursula comes to land, disguised as Vanessa to collect Ariel and to steal her ever after. Eric is elated to discover that Ariel had rescued him and risks his life to save her. Ariel’s father, King Triton is alerted by Sebastian and Flounder of Ursula’s plan and he confronts her, demanding his daughter back. To save Ariel, King Triton trades his power to rescue his daughter. Ariel, Eric, Sebastian, and Flounder work together to try and defeat Ursula. With Eric’s quick-thinking, he impales Ursula.

Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) and Prince Eric (voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes) in Disney’s The Little Mermaid

Shortly after the battle, King Triton is once again the ruler of the sea and he sees just how much Ariel and Eric love each other. So, he transforms Ariel into a human. Eric is elated that she’s returned him. They happy couple gets married and they lived happily ever after.

The Little Mermaid premiered in 1989 and was an instant success. It grossed $84 million dollars at the box office.The film went on to win two Academy Awards for Original Score and Original Song (Under the Sea) in 1990.

The Little Mermaid revitalized the Walt Disney Studio’s, bringing it back to life, and launching the Disney Renaissance! It’s astonishing to think, that if it wasn’t for The Little Mermaid, we wouldn’t be streaming Baby Yoda in The Mandalorian on Disney+ today!

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

Film Review: Howard on Disney+

Howard Documentary on Disney+

Howard was released on Disney+ on August 7th, 2020. For any fan of Disney, this film is a must watch.

The film opens, in the recording studio of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast with Howard Ashman and the cast recording the soundtrack. His passion for music, storytelling, and directing are evident in the footage.

From there, Sarah Ashman Gillespie (Howard’s sister) candidly talks about how some of her most fond memories of Howard, were of the world’s he created.

The film portrays Howard as a true creative at heart, who understood his purpose in life was storytelling through music. Like most creative personalities, Howard was both confident and self-conscious, seeing his vision crystal clear, yet struggling to make it happen. He was stubborn, yet passionate and in many cases, it’s that combination that innovators and visionaries are made of.

Howard founded the off-broadway company WPAwhich years later, which impressed Jeffrey Katzenburg, who years later, would beg Howard to work with him at the Walt Disney Studios. Howard eventually said yes and brought his friend and fellow composer Alan Menken on board for a little project called The Little Mermaid.

Howard Ashman Credit: Disney +

Alan Menken, Jodi Benson, Glen Keane, Ron Clements, John Musker, Roy Disney, and Jeffrey Katzenburg in the documentary talk about their experiences working with Howard on The Little Mermaid. Howard at the time of film’s production had learned that he had AIDS, yet continued to work in spite of that. He had worked on two other Walt Disney Studio films prior to his death in 1991 that included Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.

For any fan of Disney or of The Little Mermaid, Howard is a must-watch. It explores the life, struggles, career, and untimely death of a man who changed the Walt Disney Studios and musical theatre forever.

Thank you Howard for giving a mermaid her voice and a Beast his soul. We you and will remember you for your contribution to musical theatre and Disney. 

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

Disney Legend: Alan Menken

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken

The songs in The Little Mermaid  were written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman and forever changed the Walt Disney Company and it’s contribution to music.

Alan Menken revolutionized Disney and the Disney musical by using the musical theater format in storytelling. They did this, by using storytelling techniques, typically used in musical theater and giving them a Disney twist.

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman as a team, wrote and composed all the songs for The Little Mermaid, staying true to their musical theater roots. Ariel’s iconic song of Part of Your World. Howard Ashman famously referred to this song as the “want song” and it is.

 

During Part of Your World, we learn about Ariel’s hopes and dreams of exploring land and asking humans questions about the human world.

Growing up in the 90s, the music in The Little Mermaid was a pivotal point in our childhood. Singing along to the soundtrack on cassette and watching the movie on VHS.

As children, we lived and breathed the soundtrack, knowing every song word for word from memory. We didn’t just listen to the music, we absorbed it and lived it every time we sang the memorable lyrics.

The music of The Little Mermaid has a voice that is completely it’s own and there is nothing like it.

And we can all thank Alan Menken and Howard Ashman for that! Thank you Alan, for making us Part of Your world!

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Hans Christian Andersen Pop Culture

Howard on Disney+

Howard Ashman

On July 16th, 2020 the Walt Disney Studios had announced that it would debut an original documentary on the life and music of Disney Legend, Howard Ashman titled Howard.

Howard is scheduled to be streamed on Disney+ on August 7th, 2020.

Howard Ashman’s influence on Disney is evident, even today. He used the storytelling formula, normally used in musical theater and Disneyfied it.

If it wasn’t for Howard Ashman, Ariel wouldn’t have her iconic “want song” of Part of Your World.

He was even referred as “Another Walt” by Roy E. Disney for his passion of music, drive for perfection, and love of storytelling.

The announcement of this documentary is very exciting for any Disney fan or fan of The Little Mermaid knowing that Howard’s contributions to The Walt Disney Studios goes beyond the storyboard and piano.

This documentary will give fans a chance to learn more about a man whose become nothing short of a Legend. Howard Ashman.

 

 

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

Cosplay Queen: Traci Hines

Cosplayer Traci Hines as Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

Cosplayer. Singer. Actress. Model. Traci Hines does it all.

What Traci is best known for are her music videos as one of Disney’s most iconic heroines, Ariel, from The Little Mermaid.   Traci puts her soul (and her voice) into her music videos and it feels like you’re watching the animated films, coming to life.

It’s obvious, by watching the music videos, that music and cosplay are Traci’s passions. Which is an inspiring thing to see!

Traci’s videos blossomed on Youtube, where she took her love of singing and cosplay and blended the two seamlessly. After every music video, Traci personally thanks everyone who made it possible. Which makes them all the more special.

She embraces her fans with a whole heart and even takes their requests for her music videos.

Traci encourages her fans to share their voice to be unafraid to do so. Which is powerful. When we find our voice, we find our inner power and believe in yourself. Traci understands, that everyone’s journey has its own ups and downs, and is always willing to be a beacon of light, hope, and inspiration in her Instagram stories and posts. She’s unfiltered and raw in her own struggles and is there for her fans, reading every comment and always encouraging her fans to chase their dreams. That’s a blessing!

Traci is truly gifted in the art of storytelling with her music videos and cosplays. To be honest, the cosplay world, wouldn’t be the same without her.

Thank you Traci, for blessing us with your voice, music videos, and cosplays! You’re an inspiration to all of us!

 

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

Jorje Croft

Ariel ascending from the water by Jorje Croft

Jorje Croft is an artist on Instagram, whose gained a large following for his detailed drawings of all things, Disney. Especially of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

His artistic style is very fluid, imaginative, and free-spirited. Every line has a rhythm and it flows like a symphony.

Jorje’s style is very distinctive and has a traditional animation quality to it. His free flowing lines and vibrant colors, are just a few things, that make Jorje’s work stand out.

Jorje Croft drawing of Ariel

Jorje’s drawings depict an array of scenes from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, even turning the most tragic moments into the most beautiful ones.

Jorje Croft drawing of Ariel rescuing Eric

If you haven’t checked out, Jorje Croft’s Instagram, I suggest you check it out. His little mermaid drawings are truly one of a kind and you’ll fall in love with his work, the same way, Ariel fell in love with Prince Eric!

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

Whozit & Whatsit Pins

Whozit & Whatsit Pins Logo

Have you been exploring the seven seas, looking for incredible fantasy pins to add to your collection?

If you have, Whozit & Whatsit Pins is the place for you.

Kelly has been passionate about Disney’s The Little Mermaid her entire life and like many fans, has a growing collection of all things Ariel. How she got into pin making was an unexpected blessing in disguise.

A Mother's Love LE 35 pin
A Mother’s Love pin LE 35

It was difficult for Kelly to buy the official Disney’s The Little Mermaid pins from the Disney Parks and online in Ireland and she didn’t want to pay outrageous prices for pins on sites like eBay or Etsy. So, she decided to do, what every loyal and devoted fan does:

Kelly started to make her own little mermaid fantasy pins and they are gorgeous!

Underwater Lovers pin

Whozit & Whatsit Pins has quickly gained a lot of popularity for the unique style of pins. About 90% of the pins created by Whozit & Whatsit Pins are of Ariel and of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

Dance with Me (Eric and Ariel Jumbo pin)

Whozit & Whatsit Pins are known for their large pins and for capturing fan-favorite scenes of The Little Mermaid. The pins are full of exquisite details, that truly make them one of a kind.

Whozit & Whatsit Pins most ambitious pin to date, is a seven piece pin series, depicting Ariel’s journey in The Little Mermaid. Kelly was inspired by AndrewsGrotto sketch for the pin collection and the results are absolutely breathtaking.

Tale of Land and Sea (pin set)

Whozit & Whatsit Pins are unique and defiantly worth collecting! A must for any fan of Ariel and The Little Mermaid.

Once you start collecting Whozit & Whatsit Pins, you’ll be wanting  a grotto full of them!

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

AndrewsGrotto

Ariel brushing Andrew’s hair with a dinglehopper

AndrewsGrotto is a fabulous Instagram account, founded by Andrew Barry, an Ariel enthusiast from the United Kingdom.

Andrew’s love for The Little Mermaid started at a very young age, as he’s stated in his Instagram Live. His enthusiasm is contagious and sparks conversations amongst die-hard Ariel fans all across the globe.

Andrew holding the limited edition Ariel doll for the 30th anniversary of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”

He joyfully shares his Disney Park adventures at the parks on his Instagram stories.

His latest adventure was at Disneyland Paris, where he explored the park and of course, met Ariel. He shared his numerous character interactions, exploring the fine and unique Disney dining, and discovering the new Disney Parks merchandise.

Andrew at the Disney Store UK, excited to be holding new Ariel merchandise
Andrew at the Disney Store UK, excited to be holding new Ariel merchandise

AndrewsGrotto is very proud of his collection of all things Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Much like Ariel and her grotto, Andrew’s collection is huge. His collection includes Limited Edition dolls, open-edition dolls, pins, movie collectables,  park merchandise, and so much more.

Andrew's favorite moments with Ariel at Disney Parks
Andrew’s favorite moments with Ariel at Disney Parks

AndrewsGrotto is a wonderful fan account on Instagram that deserves so much recognition for uniting The Little Mermaid fanbase. Be a part of Andrew’s journey, by following AndrewsGrotto on Instagram. You won’t shell-regret it.

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Pop Culture

Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live (Performance)

The Little Mermaid Live! debuted on November 5th, 2019, as a special film-hybrid anniversary concert. It was filmed on location at the Walt Disney Studios.

A glowing Jodi Benson (voice of Ariel) opened the show, sharing some of her memories of making The Little Mermaid 30 years ago and how much, the film has been apart of her life.

The Little Mermaid Live! was directed by Ron Clements, John Musker, and Hamish Hamilton.

John Musker and Ron Clements wrote the original script for The Little Mermaid for Disney in the 80s. Like Jodi Benson, anything regarding The Little Mermaid, they’ve written it, such as the The Little Mermaid TV Series, The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea, and so much more. So, it’s no surprise, that they were involved in The Little Mermaid Live! as well as the new The Little Mermaid Live Action film starring Halle Bailey as Ariel.

The Little Mermaid Live! starred Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel, Shaggy as Sebastian, Graham Philips as Prince Eric, John Stamos as Chef Louis, and Queen Latifah as Ursula.

One of the best performances of the night, was Queen Latifah singing ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’. She added her own spin to the classic song, for the villain Ursula. Queen Latifah owned the stage and personified Ursula in every way.

Another fan favorite moment of the night was Auli’i (Ariel) and Graham (Eric) singing ‘If Only’. ‘If Only’ first made it’s debut in 2008, for The Little Mermaid on Broadway. It was a wonderful opportunity for fans, who had never heard the song for the very first time.

The Little Mermaid Live! overall, was filled with many magical moments, including John Stamos (Chef Louis) forgetting Prince Eric’s name.

It was definitely a wonderful blend of screen and stage, that many fans will remember as a wonderful way to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Little Mermaid.

 

 

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Hans Christian Andersen Myths and Legends

The Myth of Ondine

Undine illustration by Arthur Rackham. The illustration is featured in Baro Friedrich De La Motte Fouque romance novella “Undine” that was published in 1811.

The myth of Ondine or Undine has been around for centuries, as far back as the Ancient Greece. Unda is Latin for “wave” or “water”.

The story of Ondine has been adapted and changed throughout the centuries, yet, astonishingly, key elements of the story has remained the same.

The story is of a young water nymph named Ondine who is beautiful and has an enchanting singing voice. Ondine is immortal, but doesn’t have a soul. The only way for Ondine to obtain one, is to marry a human, which would  then shorten her life, but she would gain a human soul.

Ondine falls in love with a human, and becomes human to be with him. If Ondine’s husband was to be unfaithful to her, he will die. She soon marries him, and bears him a mixed-breed child. Her child is born with a soul and has many aquatic attributes.

Ondine finds her husband with another woman and he soon dies.

This legendary story, would later inspire French author Baron Friedrich De La Motte Fouque and his novella of  Undine that was published in 1811. Years later, his version of the story,  would inspire the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen and his story, Den Lille Havfrue or The Little Mermaid and was published in 1837.

It’s truly incredible, that these mermaid myths and legends, never die. They adapt and change with the times. They are immortal and live on forever in our hearts and our minds.

 

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Disney's The Little Mermaid Hans Christian Andersen Pop Culture

The Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen, Denmark

 

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark by Edvard Erichsen

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark, pays homage to the story that put Copenhagen on the map. All thanks to fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen.

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark by Edvard Erichsen

The idea for the statue, began in 1909, when Carl Jacobsen attended a a ballet performance of  The Little Mermaid with prima ballerina, Ellen Prince in the title role. He was instantly inspired to sculpt a statue, using Ellen Prince as the model. So, he hired a little known sculptor, by the name Edvard Erichsen to do the job for him.

Ballerina, Ellen Price modeled the head of the statue, while Edvard Erichsen’s wife, modeled the nude body of the little mermaid.

The sculpture, Edvard Erichsen decided to depict the little mermaid with legs and a fish tail, overlooking the sea, as a way for the mermaid to recall that she was a mermaid from the sea.

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark by Edvard Erichsen

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen is the cities biggest tourist attraction and attracts more then a million visitors per year. The statue is a little over 4-feet high and weighs 386 pounds. It is Copenhagen’s smallest attraction, yet the most popular. It’s made of bronze and had resided along the Langelinie Pier since August 23, 1913.

Every year, on August 23rd in Copenhagen, the city holds a huge celebration in honor of the statue at Langelinie Pier. People dress up in mermaid costumes and swim near the statue.

Screenshot from Disney’s The Little Mermaid beside The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, also served as inspiration for Disney in the 1989 film of  The Little Mermaid.  In one of the final scenes of the film, after the final battle against Ursula, Ariel is sits on a rock, gazing the shore. This was the animators homage to the statue in Copenhagen and Hans Christian Andersen.

For over a century, this remarkable statue in Copenhagen has stood proudly on Langelinie Pier.

It is a must-see for any fan of The Little Mermaid!

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Hans Christian Andersen Myths and Legends

Tiffany Turrill


Mermaid illustration by Tiffany Turrill

Tiffany Turrill is an extremely talented illustrator, comic book cover artist, and concept artist. Her illustrations of mermaid’s are creepy, yet alluring. She captures the inner darkness of mermaid’s of the past.

Tiffany’s illustrations are unique, beautiful, and hauntingly sad. There’s no doubt, that Tiffany has excelled at depicting a darker, more vulnerable mermaid.

“The Witch’s Knife” by Tiffany Turrill

‘The Witch’s Knife’ is an illustration, that’s clearly inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. The scene which the little mermaid’s sister’s sell their hair to the witch, in exchange for a knife, so the little mermaid can kill the prince and become a mermaid again.

Tiffany’s illustration of this poignant scene captures a range of mixed emotions from sadness, despair, desperation, hope, and unrequited love.

“Amphitrite” by Tiffany Turrill

The movement and coloring in Tiffany’s waves, pulls you into her illustrations. Her attention to detail is exquisite.

Tiffany is a very talented artist. Definitely one that everyone should follow.