The Little Mermaid debuted in theaters 25 years ago. Ariel has since become a popular icon and even been subjected to scandal, but it hasn’t stopped Disney’s plucky aquatic heroine from being a success.
You might now know that Disney’s version turned a much more disturbing fairy tale into the whimsical animated tale we grew to love. Hans Christian Andersen originally ended the story on a darker note.
The heroine (nameless in the original story) rescued the prince from a shipwreck, and began searching for a way to gain a human soul. Making a deal with a witch, she traded her voice for human legs to marry the man she rescued.
However, at the end of the story, after feeling extremely uncomfortable with human legs, equating it to “walking on knives,” the young woman was given the option to murder the prince and return to mermaid form. She ended up losing the prince and turning into sea foam.
It was only thanks to Disney’s rewrite by Ron Clements and John Musker that Ariel lived long enough to see sequels. If they’d kept the original story, The Little Mermaid 2 and 3 either wouldn’t have happened, or would have been very different.
Disney’s successful retelling of the “under the sea” adventures of Ariel was also the introduction to a new kind of Disney Princess. Ariel was the first “spunky” one of the bunch, made that way to revive animated movies for the first time in three decades. While previous princesses were demure and, in the case of the last one previous, sleeping until the prince woke her up, Ariel was youthful, helping to bring in the teenage audience once again.
Of course, Ariel’s youthful allure wasn’t taken in innocence. Some groups suggested that the character was borderline pornographic due to her initially wearing little more than clamshells.
‘The Little Mermaid’ at 25: We look back at Ariel as the birth of the spunky Disney princess: http://t.co/j56rRkLbdz pic.twitter.com/4KuhMsp8j4
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) November 17, 2014
Another chance the writers took was having a female character actually lose her voice. Musker revealed the decision to have a temporarily mute Disney princess to the Huffington Post.
“I know it was controversial. I know even with the script there were people that really questioned, ‘Can you really do that? Can you have the star of your movie actually lose their voice for a significant amount of time?'”
Another controversy given flight in The Little Mermaid was the element of sexism. From a detached perspective, it appears that Ariel fell in love with her first crush and lost her voice to be with him. It looks like Disney was giving merit to women only being attractive when they’re quiet.
The fact was that the female villain Ursula had suggested she lose her voice, and the prince had fallen for her because he liked her voice, not her appearance. Ariel was the reversal of the typical Disney lead character, a strong woman who saves the prince. It is actually more feminist than it is sexist, according to Time.
Were there any little known facts not revealed here? How well do you think the movie held up on The Little Mermaid 25th anniversary?
[Image via Mic]