Blu-Ray Review: The Little Mermaid

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mermaid1In 1989, Disney Animation unleashed The Little Mermaid upon the world, ushering in another Golden Age of animation for the long struggling company.  This was the exact right film at the exact right time, and without it, we might never have been blessed with films such as Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin.  Having come off of a string of box-office failures, this film came at a critical moment for the company.  With an instantly iconic soundtrack, breathtakingly beautiful underwater animation, a healthy dose of humor and instantly compelling story of heroes, villains, and of course, true love, this film rightfully went on to dominate the box office, and eventually secured it’s place as a timeless classic that is still beloved almost 25 years later.

The newest addition to Disney’s Diamond Edition Collection, this is a must-own for all families.  No matter which viewing method you choose, the film has never looked better, thanks to a remarkable digital restoration.  It’s as sharp as the film has ever looked, and really enhances the artistry behind the animation.  There are 3 discs in this set, and all are fantastic ways to view the film.  If you have a 3D tv, the 3-D Blu-Ray is included.  While the film was obviously not initially designed for 3D, the underwater landscape of the film lends itself to a spectacular conversation process.  However, if you don’t have a 3D TV, you can also view via Blu-Ray or DVD.  Also included is a Digital Copy of the film, and a 10 music track download.

Included in that download is Part of Your World, as performed by Carly Rae Jepsen.  The music video to this track is one of the many extra features on the set.  Other features include a look inside Disney Animation today, including interviews with several animators who tell their stories of being inspired by The Little Mermaid as children.  This feature includes a tour of the facilities, a segment featuring their annual April Fools’ Caricature competition, and provides an overall feeling of what it would be like to work for and create art for such a historic company.

There’s also a fascinating documentary about the live-action reference footage shot for the film.  From the beginning, Disney Animation has brought in actors to perform the roles in their animated films.  The animators watch this footage, and use this as a guide in order to create movements as realistic as possible.  Their is a great deal of classic footage from films such as Alice In Wonderland and Snow White, as well as a significant amount of footage from the live-action reference footage from The Little Mermaid.  It’s a fascinating insight into the process.

Other features include a lecture given by composer Howard Ashman, a tour of the new Fantasyland in Disneyworld by the voice of Ariel herself, Jodi Benson, a deleted scene featuring a nerdy Merman named Herman, and Crab-E-Oke, which as you can probably guess, is karaoke hosted by Sebastian.

Overall, Disney has provided another terrific addition to their Diamond Collection.  Even with no extras at all, this would be a terrific release thanks to the beautiful restoration they performed on the film.  The film looks as if it just came out this year.  However, the features are a terrific bonus, both insightful and informative.   It doesn’t matter how old you were when it was released, The Little Mermaid holds a special place in the hearts of all those who have seen it, and will continue to do so for generations to come.  This is a great release for a timeless film.