Fans awaiting a revamp of The Little Mermaid
on DVD should be pleased to know that the new, fully restored version gets the treatment it deserved all along. The Special Edition is presented in 1:78 aspect ratio, as opposed to the original 1:66 presentation, and gone is the grainy original transfer, which had Ariel's mottled complexion looking like she spent some time in a tanning bed. Various crew members chime in on the audio commentary track, but most dominant is composer Alan Menken, who adds in previously taped interviews with the late lyricist Howard Ashman (a welcome surprise). There's also a 45-minute "making of" documentary in which everyone from animators to Jeffrey Katzenberg and Leonard Maltin reflect the limp state of Disney animation before Mermaid
kicked off its "golden reign" of the early '90s. Another revelation: Katzenberg nearly eliminated "Part of Your World" from the movie after a hyperactive kid sitting in front of him appeared restless during a test screening.
Other features: a documentary on Hans Christian Andersen, and the tragedy of his personal life that inspired his much darker original ending. (The mermaid, unable to stab the prince in the heart after he marries another, turns into sea foam.) Included is an animated short of Andersen's "The Little Match Girl," a tale so depressing--again, reflecting the loneliness in Andersen's own life--it's not really clear how it ever became a "beloved bedtime story." There's also a sing-along feature, which jumps right to the musical numbers with words appearing onscreen. Deleted scenes include one unused song, "Silence is Golden," and various early sketches of alternate takes. One curious addition is a virtual Little Mermaid amusement park ride, which was originally proposed for Disneyland but failed to come to life. (Seems digitizing the experience for people to "ride" in their living room was the consolation prize.) The only blasphemous feature is a music video of "Kiss the Girls," reimagined as a Hilary Duff-esque rock song--minus the charming calypso beat that made it famous(!)--sung by the Hilary Duff-esque Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical). Aside from that, if you own The Little Mermaid in its 1999 incarnation of DVD, get the special edition and leave your old one for the kids (or the dog) to scratch up. --Ellen A. Kim
Stills from The Little Mermaid (Click for larger image)
The Little Mermaid
, one of the most celebrated animated films of all time -- and winner of two Academy Awards(R) (Best Music, Original Score; Best Music, Original Song, "Under The Sea," 1989) -- splashes onto an exciting 2-Disc DVD with an all-new digital restoration. Ariel, a fun-loving and mischievous mermaid, is off on the adventure of a lifetime with her best friend, the adorable Flounder, and the reggae-singing Caribbean crab Sebastian at her side. But it will take all of her courage and determination to make her dreams come true—and save her father's beloved kingdom from the sneaky sea witch Ursula! Dive into a world of music and adventure in this new 2-Disc Platinum Edition your family will enjoy again and again!