Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Little Mermaid (DVD)

I've been on an animated movie kick lately. Of course I've always been a fan from the time I was a kid, be it Disney or Dreamworks or Don Bluth or something else. I've even been known to dabble in Anime now and then. Particularly the films of Studio Ghibli (When Marnie Was There is a favorite). I've just always had an appreciation for animation. The medium lends itself especially well to the fantasy genre where live action just couldn't hack it--even with the aid of computer graphics. 

Recently, I was in the mood for something animated. So I visited the New Movie shelf before I left for the day. I knew we'd just gotten in a bunch of such films and I figured I'd grab one or two. I ended up with an Anime version of The Little Mermaid (I recalled we'd had a request for it just the week before, and I suppose that stuck in my mind and made the movie stand out among the others). Plus I like mermaids. Like them as much as I like unicorns, if not more so.

As the story opens, we meet Marina the mermaid, the youngest daughter of the sea king. Marina wants nothing more than to visit the surface as her older sisters do. But she's just not old enough yet. So she does what any self-respecting rebellious teen would do: She convinces her BFF, a dolphin named Fritz, to help her sneak out. While above, Marina and Fritz spot a ship and decide to investigate. And this is where Marina spies the infamous Prince. A sudden storm comes up and the ship goes down. Marina saves her royal crush, but swims away when a group of girls from a nearby school appear on the beach. Convinced she cannot go on unless she and her Prince can live Happily Ever After, Marina visits the sea witch to request she be transformed into a human. (don't know what she sees in the guy. he's as shallow as they come)

And here is where the story begins to diverge from the Disney film.

I won't spoil the rest, but do know this: This version of The Little Mermaid is very faithful to the original Anderson story (I'm always happiest when films stick to the source print material...aren't you?). It's dark and sad and has some truly creepy elements, but in many ways I actually found it preferable to the more well-known and Mouse-Approved counterpart. Character interactions seemed deeper and more meaningful, particularly the dynamic between Marina and her sisters. And the film didn't rely so heavily on humor from side characters. The most notable difference (other than the ending) was in this version the mermaid was on her own once she was on land. She didn't have an entire entourage of undersea friends to help with the whole "kiss the girl" thing. In that, she seemed more capable--even if things didn't exactly work out the way she hoped. Additionally, in this version, the mermaid's character undergoes considerable growth, maturing from a spoiled child used to getting her way into someone who actually thinks about what would be best for those for whom she cares and takes responsibility for her own (stupid and impulsive) choices.

All around, an enjoyable cinematic experience. Although I DO think I'm in the mood for something a little happier just now.--AJB

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