Disney's twenty-eighth animated feature is its first fairytale since 1958's 'Sleeping Beauty'. Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) is the mermaid daughter of King Triton, and lives beneath the waves. However, Ariel longs to see the world above, especially after rescuing a handsome prince from drowning. To this end she makes a deal with sea witch Ursula: Ariel can live above the sea in exchange for her beautiful singing voice. Ariel soon regrets her decision, however, when it transpires that her father's kingdom is at risk.
From the moment that Prince Eric's ship emerged from the fog in the opening credits of The Little Mermaid
in 1989 it was apparent that Disney had somehow, suddenly recaptured a "magic" that had been dormant for 30 years. In the tale of a headstrong young mermaid who yearns to "spend a day, warm on the sand", Ariel trades her voice to Ursula, the Sea Witch (classically voiced by Pat Carroll), for a pair of legs. Ariel can only succeed if she receives true love's kiss in a few day's time and she needs all the help she can from a singing crab named Sebastian, a loudmouth seagull and a flounder. The lyrics and music by song-writing team Howard Ashman and Alan Menken are top form: witty and relevant, and they advance the story (go on, hum a few bars of "Under the Sea"). Mermaid
put animation back on the studio's "to do" list and was responsible for ushering 1991's Beauty and the Beast
into cinemas. A modern Disney classic. --Keith Simanton
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