Jump to: Spoilers (12)
In the opening scene when King Triton arrives at the arena, Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and Kermit the Frog can be briefly seen in the crowd of sea-people as mermen when he passes over them.
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Originally, Sebastian was to have an English accent. It was lyricist/producer Howard Ashman who suggested he speak with a Caribbean accent. This opened the door to calypso-style numbers like "Under the Sea," which won the Academy Award.
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Ben Wright's final film, released four months after his death following heart surgery. When he got the part of Grimsby, Prince Eric's manservant, the erstwhile Disney folks had no idea that he had been the voices of Roger in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) and Rama in The Jungle Book (1967). He had to tell them.
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This was the first Disney film to receive an Academy Award since Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), though other films had been nominated.
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There are several shots of Ariel, sitting on a rock, in a pose reminiscent of the "Little Mermaid" statue that sits in Copenhagen harbor.
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The character of Ursula was based on drag performer and John Waters regular Divine. Her personality and some of her actions were also largely inspired by a previous Disney villain, Madame Medusa from Disney's The Rescuers (1977).
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Many merfolk appear in the film, but Ursula is a lesser-known type of mythological creature known as a cecaelia: human upper body and octopus lower body.
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Ariel's rendition of "Part of Your World" set a precedent for subsequent Disney animated musicals where the protagonist would vocalize his or her desires early in the film. The song was referred to by Howard Ashman as the "I Want" song. See also "Belle" in Beauty and the Beast (1991), "One Jump Ahead" in Aladdin (1992), "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" in The Lion King (1994), "Just Around the Riverbend" in Pocahontas (1995), "Out There" in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), "Go The Distance" in Hercules (1997), "Reflection" in Mulan (1998), "Strangers Like Me" in Tarzan (1999), "Almost There" in The Princess and the Frog (2009), "When Will My Life Begin?" in Tangled (2010), "For the First Time in Forever" in Frozen (2013) and "How Far I'll Go" in Moana (2016).
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The Little Mermaid (1989) had been a Disney property since 1941. Walt Disney planned to include the much darker Hans Christian Andersen version of the tale in a planned anthology film of the fantasy author's works. After a bitter strike by the animators that same year and the increasing focus on World War 2 wartime propaganda shorts, the initial version of The Little Mermaid (1989) was shelved in 1943.
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Christopher Daniel Barnes was only 16 years old when he recorded his voice for Prince Eric - the producers felt his voice sounded much older than he really was.
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It's possible that Prince Eric could be related to Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty (1959). In the dining room in Eric's castle on Ariel's first evening on land, there is a painting hanging on the wall. The couple bear a striking resemblance to Aurora and Phillip.
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The dress Ariel wears during her dinner with Eric is actually a combination of different dresses worn by every Disney princess prior to her. The puffy sleeves with the diamond designs are similar to the sleeves on Snow White's iconic dress. The light pink color comes from Cinderella's mother's dress (the one the stepsisters rip apart). The full skirt and draping are from Cinderella's famous ball gown. Finally, the off-the-shoulder neckline and long, pointed sleeves were inspired by Princess Aurora's royal ball gown.
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Ariel and her sisters' tails consist of the colors of the rainbow. Attina: orange, Alana: violet, Aquata: blue, Arista: red, Adella: yellow, Andrina: indigo, and Ariel: green.
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The first Disney film based on a fairy tale since Sleeping Beauty (1959).
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The Little Mermaid (1989) is the movie that brought Disney into its renaissance era in 1989, after repeated defeats at the box office.
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Ariel was quite deliberately made a redhead in order to distinguish her from Daryl Hannah's character in Splash (1984).
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"Part of Your World" was nearly cut; Jeffrey Katzenberg felt that it was "boring," as well as being too far over the heads of the children for whom it was intended. At a test screening children were restless during the song which did not have finished animation - in particular one child that sat in front of Katzenberg and spilled his popcorn and was more interested in picking it up than watching the sequence. John Musker, Ron Clements, and Howard Ashman all pleaded their case and begged Katzenberg to let the song stay to no avail. Ultimately, the one who managed to convince him to give it a second chance was the animator of the sequence, Glen Keane. Another screening was set up, this time with an adult audience. It was a greater success (even reportedly moving some members to tears) and so the song was left in the film. Katzenberg later said that he was happy no one listened to him because he couldn't imagine the film without the song.
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Ariel's body type and personality were based on Alyssa Milano. The effect of her hair underwater was based on footage of astronaut Sally Ride in weightless conditions.
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This was the last Disney animated feature to use hand-painted cels and analog camera and film work. 1,000 different colors were used on 1,100 backgrounds. Over one million drawings were done in total.
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In Greek mythology, the God of the sea is Poseidon, or Neptune in Latin. This movie's sea king has the name Triton, one of Neptune's sons.
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When Scuttle is providing "vocal romantic stimulation" to Eric and Ariel while they are rowing in the lagoon, he is squawking Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet." Tchaikovsky's ballet version of 'Sleeping Beauty' had previously inspired the music from the Disney version of that story.
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Deleted scenes: An extended "Fathoms Below" sequence in which it is revealed that Ursula is Triton's sister; alternate version of "Poor Unfortunate Souls" explaining why Ursula was banished by Triton; a scene just before the concert in which Sebastian finds out Ariel is missing; extended scene of Sebastian lost in Eric's castle; Sebastian giving additional advice to Ariel at bedtime; and the fight with Ursula to the ending with no dialogue.
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Sebastian's fanfare was performed by composer Alan Menken on a kazoo.
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Pat Carroll realized a life-long ambition with this film. She had always wanted to voice a character in a Disney film and described the opportunity as "an answer to prayer."
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Glen Keane, the lead artist for Ariel, admitted in an interview that for the longest time he was embarrassed by Ariel reaching out towards the surface in the last chorus of "Part of Your World." He thought it was way too cheesy, but had to leave it in to meet his deadline. Ten years later, however, Keane was approached by a young woman who told him that when she saw the film as a kid, all she wanted to do was take Ariel's hand and help her out of the water. Keane has been deeply proud of the scene ever since.
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Before recording "Poor Unfortunate Souls," Pat Carroll asked Howard Ashman to sing the song one more time to get it right. He happily obliged. According to Carroll, he "put on the cloak" and she admits to stealing his body language and two or three adlibs from him ("Pathetic," "Idn't it," "You can't get something for nothing," and "No more talking, singing, zip-pah.")
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Ariel is the first Disney princess to have biological siblings.
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Jodi Benson sang "Part of Your World" in the dark to get that 'under the sea' feeling.
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Scheduling conflicts with Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) forced Patrick Stewart to turn down the role of King Triton.
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More money and resources were poured into The Little Mermaid (1989) than any other Disney animated film in decades. Aside from its main animation facility in Glendale, California, Disney also opened up a feature animation facility outside Orlando, Florida.
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The film's Oscar wins of Best Original Song and Best Original Score would be repeated for their next four films - Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994) and Pocahontas (1995).
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The shot of Ariel reaching out through the skylight of her grotto at the end of "Part of Your World" was the last shot to be completed. It took four tries to get the optical effects just right.
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Many fans debate if Ursula is a squid or an octopus based on the number of her tentacles. She has only six tentacles as it was less expensive to draw; however it has been suggested that her arms count as the other two.
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Ariel is purposely made to stand out from her sisters. Firstly, she's the only redhead and the only one who wears her hair down. Secondly, she's the only mermaid whose seashell top isn't the same color as her tail. Finally, although all of Triton's daughters have names that begin with the letter 'A', Ariel's is the only one whose name doesn't also end with that letter.
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While writing "Part of Your World," Alan Menken and Howard Ashman discovered that the song shared contextual and rhythmic similarities between "Somewhere That's Green," a song from their earlier musical, Little Shop of Horrors (1986). Hence, leading the duo to humorously nickname "Part of Your World" as "Somewhere That's Dry."
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Glen Keane went to then President of Walt Disney Feature Animation Peter Schneider and demanded the chance to animate Ariel after seeing the footage of Jodi Benson singing "Part of Your World."
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Ariel is the first Disney animated heroine to have a bare midriff, as well as the first to display cleavage.
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When Ursula first shows Ariel the contract, it quickly scrolls through the body of the text. This is the actual text shown on the scroll: "I hereby grant unto Ursula, the witch of the sea... , one voice, in exchange for byon once high, Dinu*gihn thon Mueo serr on Puur-qurr I rehd moisn petn r m uenre urpti m srerp monk guaki ,Ch rich noy ri imm ro mund for all eternity. signed," All other instances clearly say: "I hereby grand unto Ursula, the witch of the sea... , one voice, for all eternity. signed,"
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The directors insisted that every one of the millions of bubbles should be hand-drawn, not xeroxed. The sheer manpower for such an effort required Disney to farm out most of the bubble-drawing to Pacific Rim Productions, a China-based firm with production facilities in Beijing. The student uprising in Beijing, China, threatened to delay production. Roughly one-third of the finished cel artwork used by the Chinese artists as underlays for drawing the bubbles were in a vault only a few blocks away from the demonstration at Tiananmen Square and the violence that followed.
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One of the final scenes in the movie where Ursula increases in size to attack Ariel and Eric was influenced by Die Hard (1988). According to the DVD commentary with directors John Musker and Ron Clements, Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was the chairman of Disney at the time, had just seen the movie in the theatre, and when he walked in the studio as they were working on the aforementioned scene, he told them "Guys, I want more Die Hard".
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Carlotta is wearing the same dress as the title character in Cinderella (1950) did when she wore her work clothes.
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There was a widespread rumor in the early to mid 1990s that the priest in the wedding scene has an erection. He doesn't (in fact, the shot is of the priest's knee moving underneath his tunic) but this didn't deter enraged moralists from strenuous protest (even to the extent of filing at least one lawsuit against Disney). In the 2006 Platinum Edition DVD release, the scene has been altered so that the priest is standing on a small platform box and his knee is no longer visible through his robes.
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HIDDEN MICKEY: In the scroll that Ursula gets Ariel to sign. It is in the middle of the words when it pans over the scroll from top to bottom. Also, in the scene where the animals are trying to break up the wedding, right as the seals are jumping onto the deck of the boat from the ocean, there is a woman with black hair in a red gown with her back to the camera. The shape of her hair clearly outlines a Mickey head until she turns sideways.
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Ariel and Sebastian are also the names of characters in the William Shakespeare play "The Tempest".
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Although based on the classic tragic tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the story also carries major similarities to classic 19th-century Czech tragic opera Rusalka, the biggest difference being the very bleak ending of the opera.
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The animators created the character of Ursula for Bea Arthur, who declined as she was occupied with The Golden Girls (1985). Jennifer Saunders then auditioned for the role of Ursula but was turned down. Somehow in 2002, Steven Spielberg got hold of her tape and insisted to the three directors of Shrek 2 (2004) that she be cast as the scheming Fairy Godmother. After Bea Arthur turned down the chance to voice Ursula, Nancy Marchand, Sylvia Sidney, Nancy Wilson, Roseanne Barr, Coral Browne, Charlotte Rae and Elaine Stritch were all then considered with the latter eventually being cast in the part; however, Stritch's style clashed with that of lyricist Howard Ashman so Pat Carroll got the part.
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When Ariel is singing "Part of Your World" in her grotto, there is a bust of Abraham Lincoln.
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The first Disney animated film to earn any Academy Award nominations since The Rescuers (1977).
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In Greek mythology, Triton is the son of Poseidon. Poseidon is the brother of Zeus. Zeus had a son named Heracles, who is the main hero of Hercules (1997). This makes Disney heroes Ariel and Hercules first cousins once removed.
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A deleted draft detailing an alternate version of the ending had Ariel and Flounder trying to rush to the wedding barge only for Glut (the shark from earlier in the film who got stuck in an anchor ring) to ambush them, causing Flounder to gain a second wind, deliver an already exhausted Ariel to the ship, and bait Glut into chasing him with the barrel still lassoed onto his back (it's actually a gunpowder barrel), causing Glut to bite the barrel and get caught in an explosion.
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The last Disney film using the xerography process, invented by Ub Iwerks, which had been used since One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961).
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When The Little Mermaid (1989) earned four Golden Globe nominations in 1990, it not only became the first full-length animated feature film to be nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, but it also became the first animated feature to be nominated for a Best Picture Golden Globe Award, of any genre, in general. Even though it did not win, Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991) would later on to become the first animated feature film to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), two years later.
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Previous to The Little Mermaid (1989), the songs for animated films were written beforehand. With this film, composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman worked alongside directors John Musker and Ron Clements throughout the whole storyboarding process, in order to make the songs a more organic part of the film.
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This film was the most effects-animation-heavy Disney animated feature since Fantasia (1940). Even with much of the rain effects being lifted from Pinocchio (1940), the two-minute storm sequence alone still took 10 special effects animators over a year to finish. Effects animation supervisor Mark Dindal estimated that over a million bubbles were drawn for this film, in addition to the use of other processes such as airbrushing, back lighting, superimposition, and some flat-shaded computer animation.
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Jodi Benson had starred in a short-lived 1986 Broadway musical based on the film Smile (1975) (in which, coincidentally, she sang a song entitled "Disneyland") which had a score by Howard Ashman and Marvin Hamlisch. When casting for the role of Ariel in The Little Mermaid (1989), it was Ashman who recommended Benson to producers. Benson also co-starred with Samuel E. Wright, the voice of Sebastian, in a short-lived 1989 Broadway musical entitled, "Welcome to the Club."
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It's worth noting by fans that Grimsby looks like an older version of Roger Radcliffe from One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), who was also voiced by Ben Wright. It can be told by the similar looking nose and that he puffs on a pipe in a similar fashion.
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Ariel's treasure grotto includes the painting "The Penitent Magdalene With the Smoking Flame" by 17th-century artist Georges de la Tour.
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Movie was adapted as a Broadway musical in 2007.
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When the film entered active production, the staff chanced upon the original story and visual development done at the studio back in the 1930s. Many of the changes made by the staff back then to Hans Christian Andersen's original story were coincidentally the same as the ones that the Disney writers were making in the 1980s.
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Ariel's liplines were created with hand-inking.
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The first Disney Animated Feature to be released on home video just after its original theatrical release. Other films had previously seen a video release, but those films had since been reissued in theaters prior.
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On January 14, 2013, a 3D re-release of the movie was canceled after poor box office performances from several other Disney 3D re-releases: Beauty and the Beast (1991) - ($47.6 million), Finding Nemo (2003) - ($41 million), and Monsters, Inc. (2001) - ($30 million), that failed to be as successful as the 3D re-release of The Lion King (1994) - ($94.2 million). Disney had already started working on the film's 3D conversion since November 2012, so the film was ultimately released on a Diamond Edition Blu-ray 3D combo pack, instead of being rescheduled for another theatrical release date. The end credits of this release contain credits for the 3D conversion team, which are sped up slightly to match the music.
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Prince Eric was named after legendary Disney animator, Eric Larson, who passed away one year prior to the film's release.
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Songwriting team Alan Menken and Howard Ashman were brought to the attention of Disney Animation Chair Jeffrey Katzenberg by longtime colleague (and future Dreamworks co-founder) David Geffen, who was producing the team's off-Broadway musical "Little Shop of Horrors".
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According to Entertainment Weekly, co-director Ron Clements brought the film's concept to Disney in 1985, but it was vetoed because it was considered too similar to a Splash (1984) sequel that was in development at Disney. In 1985, Clements, while finishing work on The Great Mouse Detective (1986), was browsing through a bookstore and chanced upon a copy of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, and found "The Little Mermaid" most fascinating, cinematic, and intriguing of all. He subsequently presented a two-page story treatment of both the film and Treasure Planet (2002) to Disney CEO Michael Eisner and chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg at a 'gong show' idea suggestion meeting where everyone at Walt Disney Feature Animation is supposed to come up with at least five new ideas for animated features; an idea Katzenberg came up with when he was working at Paramount Pictures. Both of them passed on the idea; Katzenberg changed his mind the next day and gave it the green light along with Oliver & Company (1988), but not Treasure Planet (2002) due to the technology, at the time, not being sophisticated and advanced enough to capture the filmmakers' vision for the film. Early in production, Katzenberg warned Clements and John Musker that their film would be perceived as a "girl's film" and that it would make less money at the box office than Oliver & Company. As the film neared completion, Katzenberg was forced to backtrack and admit that he thought that the studio had a major hit in the making.
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Ariel is the first red-haired Disney princess.
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An attempt to use Disney's famed multi-plane camera for the first time in years for quality "depth" shots failed because the machine, always a monster to use because of its sheer size, was in dilapidated condition. The multi-plane shots were farmed out to another studio.
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The character Ursula is pictured on one of ten USA nondenominated commemorative postage stamps celebrating "Disney Villains", issued as a pane of 20 stamps on 15 July 2017. The set was issued in a single sheet of 20 stamps. The price of each stamp on day of issue was 49¢. The other villains depicted in this issue are: The Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Honest John (Pinocchio (1940)), Lady Tremaine (Cinderella (1950)), The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland (1951)), Captain Hook (Peter Pan (1953)), Maleficient (Sleeping Beauty (1959)), Cruella De Ville (One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)), Gaston (Beauty and the Beast (1991)), and Scar (The Lion King (1994)).
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Matthew Broderick was considered for the role of Prince Eric. He went on to voice the adult Simba in The Lion King (1994) five years later.
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The two songs performed by Sebastian - "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl" - were the only ones nominated for the Academy Award, the former being the winner.
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Melissa Fahn was originally auditioned to voice Ariel and was called back several times, but was turned down from the role because her voice sounded a little too young.
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Many of the Walt Disney animated classics released or re-released in the UK in the early 1990s were theatrically distributed through Warner Bros.
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Disney artists had considered an animated film of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" as part of the "Silly Symphonies" series, in the late 1930's, and illustrator Kay Nielsen prepared a number of striking story sketches in pastels and watercolors. The project was dropped in favor of Andersen's Ugly Duckling (1939). For this film, the artists received inspiration from the Nielsen story sketches that were brought out of the Archives for them to study, and they gave Kay Nielsen a "visual development" credit on the film. Another first for recent years: Live actors and actresses were filmed for reference material for the animators. Sherri Stoner acted out Ariel's key scenes. Not all of Disney's animators approved the use of live-action reference; Glen Keane, the co-supervising animator of Ariel said in an interview with the Orange County Register that one artist quit the project rather than work with live-action reference.
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The film appears to be set in a generic European country, probably in the 18th century.
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Demián Bichir voices both, Prince Eric and Chef Louis, in the Latin American Spanish dub of the movie.
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Sissel, a Norwegian singer, provided her voice for Ariel in the Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian dubs.
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Andrew Stevens was the original voice of Prince Eric before being replaced by Christopher Daniel Barnes.
Aside from the title, the movie was the last one to have credits at the beginning.
In an unusually bold move for the time, Walt Disney Home Video decided to forego releasing the film exclusively to the rental market first (which was normal for the time) and released the film straight to sell-through, so the public could buy their own copy to keep. This was done to try and undermine the threat of the movie being pirated by making it uneconomical to do so. This move proved to be hugely popular and the tape was the biggest selling domestic VHS film of 1990 in the US and UK.
Actress Jodi Benson who voiced Ariel still voices the character to this day with her most recent addition being in Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018).
Ariel's red hair was inspired by one of the art director's daughter's red hair.
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Although commonly confused as being Jamaican, Sebastian is actually Trinidadian. Samuel E. Wright confirmed that was in fact the accent he used while voicing by the character.
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In the Norwegian dub, Ursula was voiced by Frøydis Armand and Sebastian was voiced by Helge Jordal. The two actors were married at the time and had one child.
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Ben Wright's (Grimsby) last film, he died before the film was released and this film was dedicated to his memory.
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Walt Disney Animation Studios' 29th feature film and last one of the 1980s.
The only Walt Disney Animation Studios film of the Renaissance to not release in the 1990s.
Some versions of the videotape cover had the likeness of a penis, inadvertently drawn on the cover. Promotional materials and posters for the theatrical release also contained the likeness. It's the highest tower in the middle of the castle in the background. The artist that drew the cover (later revealed to be future comic book artist Bill Morrison, who was contracted to design Disney's posters at the time) has stated in interviews that it was not intentional, but the result of having to hurry on a project where the castle's towers were rather phallic to begin with. Contrary to popular belief, the cover was never recalled, though Bashas' Grocery Stores in Arizona pulled the tapes off their shelves after a customer complained (they returned to the shelves within 24 hours). Disney did alter the suggestive spire on the subsequent LaserDisc release, and on video copies outside of North America.
John Musker and Ron Clements' first directorial effort to receive direct-to-video sequels and a TV series.
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Disney was rumored to be set to close the doors of the animation studios if this film was not a success, thankfully it was and because of it the next 4 films were all also Oscar winning films with Beauty and the Beast (1991) even getting a best picture nomination. This is similar to the situation the studio was in prior to the release of another fairy tale themed musical, Cinderella (1950).
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A remake of The Little Mermaid is planned to be released in 2022.
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Don Mizell was executive producer/producer of "Sebastian", the Caribbean roots music-flavored sequel LP to "The Little Mermaid" (1989) original soundtrack (The Walt Disney Company, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, 1990; Certified Gold).
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Many of the instrumental themes heard in the background were later adapted into the melodies of songs for the Broadway musical. In particular, the theme that became "Beyond My Wildest Dreams" 'is heard many times when Ariel is in Eric's castle.
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In a promotional interview, Alan Menken said (perhaps jokingly) that Howard Ashman's demo recording of 'Poor Unfortunate Souls' was better than the one used in the film. This recording, and several other original demos, were later released on a commemorative album called "Howard Sings Ashman."
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The first Disney Animated Feature film to be scored by Alan Menken, who eventually became a recurring composer after Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline, Paul J. Smith, Oliver Wallace, Edward H. Plumb, Charles Wolcott, Eliot Daniel, George Bruns, and Buddy Baker, as well as the first Disney Animated Feature film since The Fox and the Hound (1981) to have a recurring composer compose the score.
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Actress Jodi Benson who voices Ariel in all of Disney's Little Mermaid projects was actually the studios first choice for the voice of Belle in 1991's Beauty and the Beast (1991); however ,the role was ultimately given to Paige O'Hara. Benson did voice Belle for a limited time during the early seasons of House of Mouse (2001).
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In the movie Ursula's name is not seen mentioned in Eric's presence, even though he goes on to destroy her in the intense finale, and saves Atlantica, it is never revealed if he even knew the antagonist by name. However, in the film novelization Grimsby speaks of both Triton and Ursulla to Eric, so they were known legends, but in the movie it cut to under the sea after he spoke of the under sea kingdom and Triton.
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Actress Alyssa Milano is said to have been some inspiration behind the look of Ariel.
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Kathy Zielinski based Ursula's transformation back into her true form after Ariel gets her voice back on the transformation scenes from John Carpenter's The Thing.
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In the song "Part of Your World", Ariel asks what's a fire and why does it burn. It's ironic that shortly after singing this song, Ariel witnesses firsthand the terrible effects of fire when she sees the shipwreck and rescues Eric.
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The most prominent ingredient shown in Ursula's transforming potion is a bubble containing a butterfly. Later it is revealed during the wedding between her and Eric that the name of the human woman that Ursula transforms herself into is "Vanessa", the name for that genus of butterfly.
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Several elements from the original Hans Christian Andersen story were kept in the movie, including: Ariel being the youngest of many sisters, the secret white marble statue, the polypi along the entrance to Ursula's cavern, and Ariel asking what she'll have left without her voice and the sea-witch's response. However, in the original story, Ariel doesn't turn back into a mermaid at the end. When the sun rises on the last day she turns to foam and dies. Later editions included her becoming a daughter of the air and rising to heaven.
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The film's premiere screening in Copenhagen, Denmark, home of Hans Christian Andersen, was met with some negative response due to the deviations made to the original story's ending (the little mermaid sacrificing her life to save her true love). However, the film was defended by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who told the filmmakers that Andersen "didn't know how to end his stories, anyway."
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Although not confirmed, it is believed that the wedding dress Ariel wears towards the end was based on Princess Diana's wedding dress from the royal wedding of 1981 to Prince Charles, which occurred eight years earlier.
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The battle with Ursula did not always have her as a giant, a concept originally intended was for her to remain normal size.
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CASTLE THUNDER: Heard a few times during the storm that wrecks Eric's ship in the beginning. It's also briefly heard for a second during the middle of the second storm when Ursula becomes gigantic and powerful, and is the last Disney movie to use the sound.
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Although he was initially hired just to co-write the songs alongside composing partner Alan Menken, Howard Ashman became a co-producer and co-writer on the film, introducing much of its elements of romanticism and camp. At least three key scenes in their entirety have been credited to him: The scene where Sebastian takes pity on Ariel and decides to help her rather than report her, a scene with him 'tutoring' her on the art of flirting, and the dialogue between him and King Triton at the end where the king decides to set her free to become the human she's always dreamed of.
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Ariel is the first Disney Princess to show her behind in her film. You see a quick glance of it when she rises to the surface after becoming a human (the film wouldn't have been Rated G if it was shown any longer).
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Instead of "Part of Your World", Ariel was to sing a song entitled "One Dance" where she was wishing she had the chance to dance with Prince Eric and eventually foreshadowing giving up her fins for legs to be with him, but the producers felt this song wasn't strong enough, so they went with "Part of Your World" instead.
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The only time Ursula's alter ego Vanessa is mentioned by name is during the wedding.
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The wedding scene at the close of the film, specifically the penultimate shot of the wedding barge leaving under the rainbow while the merfolk wave goodbye, marked one of the first use of CAPS (Computer Animation Production System) in a Disney feature. CAPS is a digital ink-and-paint and animation production system that colors the animators' drawings digitally, as opposed to the traditional animation method of tracing ink and paint onto cels. The rest of this film uses hand-painted cels. All subsequent Disney features have used CAPS instead of ink-and-paint. An earlier scene where Ariel runs down a set of stairs, also uses the CAPS system for its moving background. This film was intended to be the first Disney animated feature using all digital processes but at the time CAPS wasn't ready. Disney's next animated feature The Rescuers Down Under (1990) was going to be the first 100% digitally processed film.
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