DVD Review: The Little Mermaid - Platinum Edition
Release Date: October 3, 2006
Distributor: Walt Disney Video
· Ron Clements
· John Musker
· Jodi Benson
· Samuel E. Wright
· Christopher Daniel Barnes
· Pat Carroll
· Kenneth Mars
· Jason Marin
· Buddy Hackett
· IMDb: The Little Mermaid
· Oceans Awareness
by R.J. Carter
Published: October 7, 2006
"I'll tell you a tale of the bottomless blue..." And what a whale of a tale it is! Disney's reinterpretation of Hans Christian Andersen's best beloved story served as a the start of a new renaissance in Disney animation, as formed the cornerstone of the Disney Princess craze that still continues today. With an award-winning score by Alan Menken and the strong vocal talents of Jodi Benson and Samuel E. Wright, "The Little Mermaid" is just as powerful of a story today as when it first appeared in theaters.
The story focuses on Ariel (Jodi Benson), the youngest daughter of King Triton (Kenneth Mars). Ariel has a fascination with things from the surface world that she finds from shipwrecks. Her fish-friend Flounder (Jason Marin) helps her find the things, and the seagull Scuttle (Buddy Hackett) later makes up a definition for what the things are. Triton finds this fascination unhealthy, and assigns Sebastian the crab (Samuel E. Wright) to look after her. The timing couldn't be worse for the little crab, because soon after Ariel rescues a drowning Prince Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes), and falls hopelessly in love with him.
Triton, of course, is furious, and destroys Ariel's collection of surface memorabilia. Dejected, Ariel becomes a ripe prospect for the temptations of Ursula the sea witch, who preys on "poor, unfortunate souls in pain." In a "Gift of the Magi" moment of irony, Ariel pays the price of her voice -- the only part of her that Prince Eric would recognize -- for the opportunity to become human and win his love, with a three-day deadline. Flounder, Sebastian, and Scuttle then do everything they can to convince Eric to "kiss the girl" before that last fateful sunset. But Ursula's plans are deeper and darker than they appear, and key to her success is the little mermaid's failure, which sets the stage for a rousing and emotional climax.
Now digitally restored on this Platinum Edition release, a whole new generation can enjoy the story of one of the world's most recognizable redheads. So come along and be part of her world... under the sea!
Disney animators paid tribute to the famous statue honoring
Andersen's Little Mermaid by ensuring the pose was recreated
in this memorable scene.
The set includes an impressive array of bonus features. The behind-the-scenes featurette alone, titled "Treasures Untold", is over 45 minutes when all the chapters are added together. This is also the menu with the easter eggs on it. Surf around the menu, and you will find (Highlight text to reveal Easter Eggs!) 1) a fork (or dinglehopper) to the left of Act II and Act III, which will show John Musker drawing Ron Clements -- and then they then switch places; 2) a pipe (or snarfblatt) to the right of Act IV on Scuttle's rock, which brings up Supervising Animator Ruben Aquino and co-supervising animator Glen Keane, talking about studying octopus motion and incorporating it into Ursula's animation; 3) to the lower right of the pipe is an anchor, where co-writers John Musker and Ron Clements demonstrate the secret "Little Mermaid" handshake.
Viewers can also take a virtual tour on the Under the Sea Adventure theme ride that was almost build. This puts the viewer right in the front seat of the seashell and takes her over -- and under -- the world of "The Little Mermaid"!
There are a number of musical bonuses, including sing-along replays of songs from the film, and a music video by Ashley Tisdale performing "Kiss the Girl". And there's a new animated short, based on another of Hans Christian Andersen's characters, "The Little Match Girl", available for the first time on DVD with this release.
The Disneypedia "Life Under the Sea" documentary gives viewers a comparison between the animated fish and their real-life counterparts. Many already know that Disney animators always get up close and personal with the wildlife they're expected to later bring to the screen; these shots will fascinate as much as educate. Certainly some among the new generation of fans may be inspired to become oceanographers when they grow up. To foster that ambition, Ariel will also be appearing in Public Service Announcements for Oceans Awareness, a campaign to raise awareness among Americans about the health of the oceans and the impact of human actions on the oceanic ecosystem. The website supporting this initiative, KeepOceansClean.org, developed by Animax, provides information and motivation for children and families to do their part to help protect the ocans by taking visitors into the sea where they see real fish swiming alongside animated debris. Visitors explore the world by clicking on the objects. There are additional games and activities for children, and information for parents and teachers.
Another wonderful featurette is "The Story Behind the Story", which delves into the history of Hans Christian Andersen himself. The differences between his story and Disney's are shown (his having a much sadder yet a more deeply spiritual undercurrent), and the parallels in both stories are put up against events in his own life, which allegorically mirrored the mermaid's tale.
Audio can be set to English 5.1 Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix, French 5.1 Surround Sound, or Spanish 5.1 Surround Sound, with optional subtitling in English only.
Previews on this disc include "The Little Mermaid III", "Meet the Robinsons", "Cinderella III: A Twist in Time", "Cars", "The Fox and the Hound" 25th Anniversary Edition, and "The Fox and the Hound 2". Additional selectable sneak peeks include "Robin Hood" Special Edition, "Tinkerbell", "Peter Pan" 2-Disc Edition, and "Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: A Kingdom of Kindness".
The Little Mermaid
Main Feature (1:23:00)
"Kiss the Girl" by Ashley Tisdale (3:30)
Disney Song Selection
Audio Commentary with co-writers and co-directors Ron Clements
- "Part of Your World"
- "Under the Sea"
- "Les Poissons"
- "Kiss the Girl"
and John Musker, and composer Alan Menken
"Little Mermaid III" Musical Sneak Preview (1:20)
- Treasures Untold: The Making of "The Little Mermaid" (45:25)
- Storm Warning: "The Little Mermaid" Special Effects Unit (8:40)
- The Story Behind the Story (11:30)
- The Little Matchgirl (7:10)
- "The Little Mermaid" Art Galleries
- Early Presentation Reel -- contains early concept art to "Under the Sea"
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2:15)
Games & Activities
- "Fathoms Below" Alternate Version (2:30)
- Backstage with Sebastian (1:40)
- "Poor Unfortunate Souls" Alternate Version (8:30)
- Sebastian Lost in the Castle (1:50)
- Advice from Sebastian (1:30)
- Fight with Ursula / Alternate Ending (6:50)
- Song Demo: "Silence is Golden" (Audio Only) (3:00)
- Under the Sea Adventure (4:15)
- Disneypedia: Life Under the Sea (8:25)