The Little Mermaid

Borrowing liberally from the studio's classics, The Little Mermaid may represent Disney's best animated feature since the underrated Sleeping Beauty in 1959. That should come as no surprise to admirers of The Great Mouse Detective, writer-director collaborators John Musker and Ron Clements' 1986 animation feature that helped salvage the art form at the studio after it had nearly sunk into The Black Cauldron.

Borrowing liberally from the studio’s classics, The Little Mermaid may represent Disney’s best animated feature since the underrated Sleeping Beauty in 1959. That should come as no surprise to admirers of The Great Mouse Detective, writer-director collaborators John Musker and Ron Clements’ 1986 animation feature that helped salvage the art form at the studio after it had nearly sunk into The Black Cauldron.

The source material is a Hans Christian Andersen tale. The mermaid princess Ariel (voiced by newcomer Jodi Benson) lives in her sea-lord father Triton’s (Kenneth Mars) undersea kingdom but yearns for a life above, made all the more haunting to her when she rescues handsome young prince Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright) from the sea. Disobeying her father, she makes a pact with seawitch Ursula (Pat Carroll) enabling her to go ashore and get the prince to fall in love with her – her soul hanging in the balance, her beautiful voice as collateral.

Ursula alone proves a visual feast, a thick-jawed nightmare who swishes about on eight octopus legs in one of the film’s more inspired inventions.

The animation proves lush and fluid, augmented by the use of shadow and light as elements like fire, sun and water illuminate the characters. Key contributions are made by lyricist Howard Ashman (who co-produced with Musker) and composer Alan Menken, whose songs frequently begin slowly but build in cleverness and intensity.

1989: Best Song (‘Under the Sea’), Original Score.

Nomination: Best Song (‘Kiss the Girl’)

The Little Mermaid

Production: Walt Disney. Director John Musker, Ron Clements; Producer Howard Ashman, John Musker; Screenplay John Musker, Ron Clements; Editor John Carnochan; Music Alan Menken; Art Director Michael A. Peraza Jr, Donald A. Towns

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1989. Running time: 82 MIN.

More Film

  • Keira Knightley photgraphed for Variety by

    Keira Knightley on 'Colette,' Pushing for Social Change, and if She'll Ever Direct

    Borrowing liberally from the studio’s classics, The Little Mermaid may represent Disney’s best animated feature since the underrated Sleeping Beauty in 1959. That should come as no surprise to admirers of The Great Mouse Detective, writer-director collaborators John Musker and Ron Clements’ 1986 animation feature that helped salvage the art form at the studio after […]

  • Natasha Mulla

    MoviePass Hires Marketing Chief as It Looks to Expand (EXCLUSIVE)

    Borrowing liberally from the studio’s classics, The Little Mermaid may represent Disney’s best animated feature since the underrated Sleeping Beauty in 1959. That should come as no surprise to admirers of The Great Mouse Detective, writer-director collaborators John Musker and Ron Clements’ 1986 animation feature that helped salvage the art form at the studio after […]

  • Natpe: HBO Latin America Launches Direct

    Natpe: HBO Latin America Launches Direct Distribution Operation for International Markets

    Borrowing liberally from the studio’s classics, The Little Mermaid may represent Disney’s best animated feature since the underrated Sleeping Beauty in 1959. That should come as no surprise to admirers of The Great Mouse Detective, writer-director collaborators John Musker and Ron Clements’ 1986 animation feature that helped salvage the art form at the studio after […]

  • Over 30 TV Projects, 40 Speakers

    Göteborg TV Drama Vision Unveils Program

    Borrowing liberally from the studio’s classics, The Little Mermaid may represent Disney’s best animated feature since the underrated Sleeping Beauty in 1959. That should come as no surprise to admirers of The Great Mouse Detective, writer-director collaborators John Musker and Ron Clements’ 1986 animation feature that helped salvage the art form at the studio after […]

  • 'Our Time Will Come' Wins Hong

    'Our Time Will Come' Wins Hong Kong Critics Prize

    Borrowing liberally from the studio’s classics, The Little Mermaid may represent Disney’s best animated feature since the underrated Sleeping Beauty in 1959. That should come as no surprise to admirers of The Great Mouse Detective, writer-director collaborators John Musker and Ron Clements’ 1986 animation feature that helped salvage the art form at the studio after […]

  • Star Wars

    Japan Box Office: ‘Star Wars’ Wins Fifth Weekend

    Borrowing liberally from the studio’s classics, The Little Mermaid may represent Disney’s best animated feature since the underrated Sleeping Beauty in 1959. That should come as no surprise to admirers of The Great Mouse Detective, writer-director collaborators John Musker and Ron Clements’ 1986 animation feature that helped salvage the art form at the studio after […]

  • Florian Munteanu to Play Ivan Drago's

    Florian Munteanu to Play Ivan Drago's Son in 'Creed 2'

    Borrowing liberally from the studio’s classics, The Little Mermaid may represent Disney’s best animated feature since the underrated Sleeping Beauty in 1959. That should come as no surprise to admirers of The Great Mouse Detective, writer-director collaborators John Musker and Ron Clements’ 1986 animation feature that helped salvage the art form at the studio after […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content