"The Little Mermaid" was not only a hit film for Disney, it reinvigorated the company's legendary animation arm which has been in a steady decline for years. Following the success of this film, Disney launched a series of successful animated films that easily rival Disney classics including "Snow White," "Cinderella," and "Sleeping Beauty." Without the success of "The Little Mermaid," would there have been "Beauty and the Beast," Aladdin," or "The Lion King"?
To celebrate this milestone film, the team at Cinefix has dug deep and compiled nine things you (probably) did not know about this classic film. Below are highlights. For the entire list check out the video at the end of the article.
A lot of people have already heard that Ariel was based on a teenage Alyssa Milano, but, that's only part of the story. Alyssa Milano's face was an inspiration for Ariel's, but someone else was the body model and basis for her physical movements.
Sherri Stoner-- who was a writer for “Tiny Toons” and later, “Animaniacs” did live action portrayals of scenes from the “Little Mermaid,” which the animators then used as reference for the film. They even used her again, to model for Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.”
Ursula was modeled after the legendary drag queen, Divine-- specifically Divine in “Pink Flamingos” and “Hairspray.” At one point, the filmmakers wanted to give Ursula a mohawk, inspired by Babs Johnson's hair.
But, the Disney exes weren't on board with the mohawk idea, and thought it was too over-the-top-- probably because they didn't know that Divine was the reference point.
Ursula: Missing two tentacles
There are debates over whether Ursula is considered an octopus. She only has six tentacles, which would make her having two tentacles short of being an octopus. While some argue that her two arms are there in place of a seventh and eighth tentacle, Ursula was drawn with only six tentacles mainly because it was cheaper. To go even farther, there was a point in development where Ursula didn't have any tentacles at all. Early concept art depicted her a number of different ways, before the team came up with the idea of making her an octopus-sea-witch-creature.
Classic Disney Characters: The Amphibious Edition
Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald are, apparently, amphibians because they appear in the final film as part of the audience when King Triton arrives.
50 Years in the making
Considering that “The Little Mermaid” revived Disney’s feature animation it’s amazing to think it almost never existed. When it was first pitched to the Disney execs, it was rejected because of Splash, with Daryl Hannah. Disney was working on “Splash 2,” and they were afraid of doing more than one mermaid project. This marked the second time a Disney-animated version of the Little Mermaid wound up dead in the water. Kay Nielsen had been working on an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's “Little Mermaid,” back in the late 30's and early 40's with Walt Disney. But, the project wound up getting shelved indefinitely.
After his initial rejection, Jeffrey Katzenberg decided to actually read Ron Clements' treatment for “The Little Mermaid,” and reversed his decision to reject it, the next day. They went ahead with the project, and decided to make Ariel a redhead, just to help distinguish her from Daryl Hannah, as much as possible. Boom! Another bonus thing you didn't know!
Kay Nielsen's artwork from 1941 was hugely influential on the animators working on “The Little Mermaid”…over 40 years later.
The “Die Hard” influence
“Die Hard” inspired the climactic scene of the Little Mermaid - the part with the Godzilla-Ursula. In the original ending, Ariel was going to step in and save the day, by blocking a lightning bolt Ursula was aiming at Prince Eric.
But, Katzenberg put in his two cents-- again-- and said that the ending wasn't big enough. “Die Hard” was a huge movie at the time, and he straight up told the filmmakers that he wanted the ending to be “more Die Hard.”
So, they took that note, and came up with the ending we have now.
For the rest of the list, watch the video below: