Musings on my childhood favorite – Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989)

Happy weekend!! Hope you’re all doing well. It’s  I’ve been quite preoccupied with a bunch of stuff this week I barely have time to write anything for the blog.

But hey, I finally did get approved by Rotten Tomatoes! Yes I know I know, I could’ve done that years ago but I guess I just never took the time, but hey, better late than never. To clarify, this blog FlixChatter is NOT a Tomatometer-approved site, but I, Ruth Maramis, am an RT approved critic 🍅So check out some of reviews I’ve submitted, A Star Is Born, Alita: Battle Angel, Cold War, etc. Oh and my first ROTTEN review: A Christmas Prince, ha!

Now, about the main topic at hand…

I actually pre-ordered the Anniversary Edition blu-ray in early February, and finally picked it up a day after it’s official release on Feb 26.

The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite Disney Princess movies. When it was first released in 1989, I was in my early teen. If I were to rank my fave Disney princesses, I’d say Ariel would be in my top three (along with Sleeping Beauty‘s Aurora and Beauty & The Beast‘s Belle).

It’s been decades since I saw the movie in its entirety, and to see it in its gloriously stunning, sharp HD is such a treat! The story features a precocious, fanciful teenage mermaid who dreams of being part of the human world. I can see how this resonated with me as an Indonesian teen growing up in Jakarta, as I too was dreaming of moving away from home and going to the ‘land of dreams’ that is America! Now that I’ve been living in the US for over 20 years, more than I lived in my homeland, I can still identify with Ariel.

We can all identify with kids rebelling against strict parental rules that forbids them from doing what they want. When her dad, King Triton, finds out her vast collection of human memorabilia… and worse, that his favorite daughter has fallen in love with a human, he destroyed her room (a sacred place for any teenager!). A perfect moment for the evil sea witch Ursula to snatch her into her trap. The ‘poor unfortunate souls’ are all of us who’ve succumbed to temptation throughout our lives, some of which comes with dire consequences.

Now, the part about her giving up everything she is, even her own identity, for a guy she doesn’t even know… well, that’s where the Disney princesses narrative has become oh-so-passé, even long before the #MeToo era. Basically Ariel made a deal with the devil, trading in her voice, identity and more for a pair of feet in order to get her man. That’s why I got such a kick out of Ralph Breaks The Internet‘s hilarious-but-accurate commentary on Disney princesses!

Perhaps if you compare to Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, The Little Mermaid is just slightly more ‘progressive’ in that we get to see the prince–AND princess–actually get to know each other (albeit sans dialog as she’s been rendered mute). I suppose three days is better in getting to know someone than three hours (or even less in the case of Snow White!). I also think Eric is perhaps the hunkiest of the Disney princes, voiced with masculine vigor by Christopher Daniel Barnes.

This movie also boasts a memorable and rather fun villain in Ursula (voiced perfectly by Pat Carroll). I was a bit scared of her initially, ok maybe scared is a strong word, her dark underworld and witchery is rather eerie and unsettling. But watching it now, I’m hugely amused by her sassy attitude and her gravely voice. Her voluptuous octopus lower body and bold red lips and stylized white hair is like a blend between Cruella de Vil and Devil Wears Prada‘s Miranda Priestly.

Apparently Disney originally wanted to tell the original Hans Christian Andersen tale that’s got a much darker ending. But I doubt that would sit well with kids, though the altruistic nature of the protagonist in the book would appeal more to adults. In this version, the obvious problematic issue with Ariel is that despite all the privileges she has (and there are many), she can never be truly happy unless she gives up her identity and becomes another being entirely. I guess with Disney movies, one must not overthink it which would lessen the enjoyment.

I wasn’t one of those girls who’d collect every Disney memorabilia I could get my hands on, but I remember buying a Sebastian stuffed toy and kept it for a long time! Seeing this decades later, I still adore Sebastian the Crab who’s got the arduous task of being Ariel chaperon. He’s still one of my all time favorite Disney characters, and for a diminutive crustacean, Sebastian’s actually got a pretty strong character arc. I LOVE the way he’s drawn… the way his jaw drops whenever Ariel did something unthinkable, how his legs quiver when he’s confronted by King Triton… he’s SO much more than a comic relief, and thanks to Samuel E. Wright, he’s certainly one of the best-voiced character in the vast Disney universe!

Speaking of voices, Broadway star Jodi Benson‘s voice as Ariel is absolutely perfect. As I’m watching the behind the scene feature, Alan Menken & the Leading Ladies, it’s amazing how Benson still sounds exactly like Ariel 30 years later! I suppose most of the leading ladies featured there still sound like their characters, but Benson seems to have the right personality as well.

Surely the music is often the highlights of the Disney Princess movies, thanks to the genius of Alan Menken and his lyricist partner, the late Howard Ashman. I usually love the ballads that the princesses’ sing, but in The Little Mermaid, the highlight has got to be Under the Sea!

No wonder the movie won two Oscars for Best Original Song and Best Original Score. The movie is a rare double nominee in the music category as the whimsical song Kiss the Girl was also nominated!

Per IMDb Trivia, this was ‘the last Disney animated feature to use hand-painted cels and analog camera and film work. 1,000 different colors were used on 1,100 backgrounds. Over one million drawings were done in total.’ That’s truly astounding and it looks absolutely breathtaking. I LOVE the underwater world of the kingdom of Atlantica, I’d say it’s way more beautiful to look at than the recent underwater universe of Aquaman.

I have just started watching the Bonus Features, and the one I enjoyed the most is the Art of Live Action Reference where models would act out the characters in order to help the artists draw them better. It’s amazing how much the two actors who play Ariel and Eric resemble their animated characters! They also get to improvise the mannerism that we get to see in the final movie.

I love just how expressive Ariel is, her wide-eyed wonder and long, flowing red mane is iconic. Animation effects have come a looong way since then, but I think The Little Mermaid still holds up pretty well. Naturally Disney has done a great job remastering their old classics to ensure the colors look vibrant and the details are sharp, but overall the animation style itself is still a marvel to look at.

So yeah, I still very much enjoy The Little Mermaid, despite some of its narrative problems I mentioned above. It’s certainly a gorgeous movie and rewatching it was a pretty satisfying walk down memory lane.


Have you seen The Little Mermaid or seen it recently? What did YOU think?

Week In Review… and quick update on my short film

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you had a great weekend. Spring has finally sprung here in the Upper Midwest… it actually felt nice enough I could forgo my jacket for part of the day Friday! Speaking of Friday, it was also one of the busiest day I’ve ever had… which I’ve shared on my FB below…

Well, it shouldn’t be surprising to most of you that my hours, days and weeks have been consumed by my short film project. I did see three films this past weekend however… including a rewatch of Captain America Civil War as it’s now on Netflix!

I rented SING earlier in the week and really enjoyed it! I really loved the trailer, but fortunately it lived up to it (unlike The Secret Life of Pets). So many fun characters, especially the Rosita the pig (and her brood of kids!) and Johnny the gorilla. The cover songs were great too and I thought the story was pretty moving and engaging throughout, and the ending managed to surprise me in a lovely way. I highly recommend it if you enjoy animated films that’s much more than just a visual treat.

I also finally saw Beauty & The Beast! Boy I had been SO excited about it for like a year but when it’s finally here three weeks ago I was so swamped I could barely got excited for any movie. But I needed a break after such a hectic and quite stressful week, and this movie did just the trick!

Now I will say that it still doesn’t beat the Disney animated classic, but I already knew that before I even saw it. With that in mind, I still found it to be pretty entertaining. I think Emma Watson did well as Belle, which is key in me liking the movie. I especially love the relationship between Belle and her dad, played by the venerable Kevin Kline.

Oh and the song… the songs!! Alan Menken is a musical genius who’ve made a bunch of my all time fave Disney songs, here he teamed up with Howard Ashman and added some new favorites!

I’ll do a music break of the movie at some point, but man, the three new songs How Does a Moment Last Forever (Montmartre), Days in the Sun and Evermore are absolutely lovely!! I initially cringed when I heard the Beast singing, but the emotional song literally made me sob. Yes I’m such a sap 😛


Ok so it’s just 15 days until my filming!

Things are changing rapidly every single day. The short script is officially ‘done’ and sent to my actors, though of course it’s not really final until filming wraps. After losing a director nearly month before filming, we’ve now pretty much got a full crew!

I knew indie filmmaking is fast and furious but it seems our pre-prod process is at lightning speed even by that standard! I gotta say though it’s been a ton of fun even with the stress… I’ve been running on adrenaline these days that I know I will miss the crazy rush of it all once the film is done.

Thankfully I’ve got a super talented & supportive hubby Ivan who did the photoshoot with my two stunning lead actors Sam Simmons & Peter Christian Hansen on Saturday 3/25. They’ll be used for various promos and even props for the film. Below are just a few of the shots he took over the course of just 3 hours!

Well, there’s still much to be done between now and April 17… it’s been quite a thrill ride for me and I’m learning so much every single day.

We’re now on Facebook!!

Check out BTS photos & videos from our pre-prod photoshoot, as well as other updates on the film. Please LIKE, comment & share. Thank you!


Well that’s the scoop on my life so far folks… hope you’ll support my project when the time comes 😉

Music Break: Ten Favorite Oscar-Winning Film Scores

TenFaveOscarWinningScores

The Oscars is just a week away, folks! Well, a week ago, as I was listening to 99.5 Classical MPR they were playing my favorite score from Titanic and I knew I had to make a post of it. For this post I’m focusing more on the instrumental themes instead of the songs, hence my exclusion of Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, etc. Y’know, I’m still surprised that some of my all time fave scores did NOT win an Oscar, i.e. Gone with the Wind, Superman, Indiana Jones, Gladiator, The Hours, and The Passion of the Christ, just to name a few. Heck, the one I considered one of the greatest scores ever, Somewhere in Time, wasn’t even nominated! But its composer John Barry had been nominated six times. John Williams, the reigning champion of the most-nominated composer ever with 44 (he beat Alfred Newman who had 43 noms) have made some truly iconic scores, but my faves did not win, so I only included the one I love the most.

Thanks to Wikipedia for making it easy for me to see the winners all the way from the 1930s. Now, I’ve seen most of the films the scores appear in, with a couple of exceptions (Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves). So in any case, here are my Top 10 Fave Oscar-Winning Scores, in order of release:

BEN-HUR – Miklós Rózsa

Ever since I saw this as a young girl with my late mother, few films have touched me as much as Ben-Hur did and Rozsa’s score is one of the reasons it’s such an enduring epic.

 

Lawrence of Arabia – Maurice Jarre

I actually just saw this film two years ago but I’ve heard the soundtrack years before and it’s remained one of my favorites!

 

Out of Africa – John Barry

Ahhh John Barry… nobody could create a more lush and devastatingly gorgeous music that pierces your soul. I haven’t seen the film yet but I’m actually afraid the music would actually eclipse the film itself.

 

The Little Mermaid – Alan Menken

I grew up listening to all Disney Princess songs and I somehow identified with Ariel’s loneliness and her yearning to belong in someone else’s world. Mr. Menken is an absolute musical genius in that he somehow could capture the sentiment of her character.

I also have a special fondness for the Caribbean-influenced style of Under the Sea. I LOVE the little crab Sebastian so much I actually bought the tiny stuffed animal, and I’m still using The Little Mermaid‘s beach towel to this day 😀

 

Schindler’s List – John Williams

Perhaps one of the most hauntingly-beautiful music ever conceived. I never NOT tear up whenever I listen to this. Itzhak Perlman‘s violin solo adds so much to the piece, making it ever so unforgettable.

 

Beauty & The Beast – Alan Menken

I was just listening to this the other day and out of all the music in the wonderful album, this has to be my favorite. Yes, it even beats the more popular Tale as old as time. The scene itself of the Beast’s transformation is beautifully-done and it always packs such an emotional punch.

 

Dances with Wolves – John Barry

Another one by John Barry, can’t you tell I absolute LOVE this man’s work? I really should see this film already, as I’ve listened to the soundtrack more often than I can count.

 

Titanic – James Horner

THIS is the piece that was played in Classical MPR on my way home from work last week. I’m glad they chose to play Take Her to Sea Mr Murdock instead of the massively popular My Heart Will Go On. I always remember the first time I beheld the majestic ocean liner on the big screen and there’s a lump in my throat when that music came on. There’s such an energy to it, a joyful optimism of that day that’s so infectious, which makes the doom fate of Titanic later on in the film even more heart-wrenching.

 

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – Howard Shore

I really think the soundtrack of the entire trilogy is simply exceptional. It’s just as epic as Peter Jackson’s creation and it really transport you into the realm of Middle Earth!

 

The Artist – Ludovic Bource

The strength of a lot of silent films is the soundtrack and The Artist is no exception. I love most of the tracks but this waltz is my absolute favorite. I LOVE Bérénice Bejo in the role, this music is as pretty and playful as Peppy herself, there’s such a wistful nostalgic vibe that takes you back to those Chaplin classics.


Hope you enjoyed this week’s music break! Which of these Oscar-winning score(s) is your favorite?

Music Break: Top 10 Disney Princess Songs

Can’t believe I haven’t made this post sooner as I grew up with Disney Princess movies. But thanks to Cinema Parrot Disco who put up her fave Disney songs last week, I thought I should do the same.

DisneyPrincesses

So this list is limited to the Princess Movies, otherwise I’d have included The Lion King‘s Circle of Life & Can You Feel the Love Tonight, as well as Hercules’ Go the Distance and Tarzan’s You’ll Be In My Heart. That last one by Phil Collins never fails to make me tear up as the lyric’s so beautiful. I’m also excluding Pixar films, otherwise I’d have included Brave‘s Touch the Sky on here.

It’s REALLY tough to narrow it down to just 10 but here we go (in order of the movie’s release):

Heigh-ho – Snow White (1937)

I actually love the songs by the seven dwarves more than those sung by Snow White. This one is just so chirpy and fun to sing along to!


A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Cinderella (1950)

Ok so the part where the birds and mice are singing along are pretty silly but I find it endearing. The song has such a dreamy quality about it that’s lush and lovely.


Once Upon A Dream – Sleeping Beauty (1959)

I love this song so much I’ve dedicated a Sleeping Beauty’s Music Break post for it a few years ago. Based in Tchaikovsky‘s ballet, this song still sounds fresh even today. I like how the originally perky song is made darker and sexier in the Lana Del Rey’s rendition for Maleficent coming this May. I’m including both versions below:


Part of That World – Little Mermaid (1989)

I remember being so moved by this film as a kid. What teenager doesn’t want to be someone else sometimes, but Ariel’s plight seems more than a flight of fancy. I really feel for her and her desire to be part of our world and this song still gets me teary-eyed.


Kiss the Girl – Little Mermaid (1989)

I LOVE LOVE Sebastian, the adorable red crab voiced by Samuel E. Wright. I even owned the stuffed animal as a kid! This one deservedly won the Oscar for Best Original Song. I just love the Calypso/Afro-Caribbean music style used here, it’s such a whimsical and jovial tune!


Something There – Beauty & The Beast (1991)

I’ve made a Beauty & the Beast Music Break post of this one as well. It never fails to make me all gooey inside every time I listen to it.


A Whole New World – Aladdin (1992)

Anything by frequent Disney composer/lyricist Alan Menken &  Tim Rice is usually a recipe for gold. This one won Best Original Song at the Oscar. I actually prefer the Brad Kane and Lea Salonga rendition instead of the Peabo Bryson/Regina Belle version.


Colors of the Wind – Pocahontas (1995)

Oscars seems to get a lot of their picks right when it comes to songs, this is yet another Best Original Song winner by you guessed it, Alan Menken! I love both the Judy Kuhn version in the film, as well as Vanessa Williams’ cover. Great melody and poetic lyrics I love listening to year after year.


I See The Light – Tangled (2010)

For some odd reason I always burst into sobs every time I watch this! I love Tangled and this emotionally-charged lantern sequence is by far my favorite scene. This unabashedly sweet and romantic love song between Rapunzel and Flynn is classic Disney. It’s Menken’s magic once again, featuring the voice of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi who’s a surprisingly good singer!


For the First Time in Forever – Frozen (2013)

Let It Go is likely to nab Best Original Song at the Oscars this Sunday, but it’s actually not my favorite tune from the movie. THIS is the one I love most and the scene as its played in the movie is so much fun! I actually prefer Kristen Bell’s voice to Idina Menzel’s for some reason.


HONORABLE MENTION:

In Summer – Frozen (2013)


What do you think of my picks? Let me know YOUR own favorite Disney Princess songs!

Music Break – Favorite fairy tale music inspired by ABC’s ‘Once Upon A Time’

I just started catching up on the ABC show Once Upon A Time this past weekend, so that inspired me to pick the music for today’s Music Break. I’ve only watched two episodes from the first season but I quite like it so far, though some of the acting is a bit over the top. As someone growing up with Disney fairy tale movies, the premise appeals to me so we’ll see if the show has enough going for it to keep me interested. Nice to see Robert Carlyle in it as Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold. The Glasgow-native is easily the best actor on that show, and no I’m not just saying that for my penchant for Scottish actors 😉

Anyway, inspired by that show, here are three favorite fairy tale music from the classic and current fairy tale movies:

SNOW WHITE (1937)

You can’t beat the classics. Even 75 years later, Snow White is still hot property, what with two films made with that character this year alone! There are really too many to choose from as the whole soundtrack is great, but I love this finale of Love’s First Kiss. It’s enchanting, sweet and full of hope, the kind of stuff Disney music is known for, and the choir singing Someday my Prince will come really warms the heart.

Original music by Leigh Harline and Paul J. Smith, with Adriana Caselotti and Harry Stockwell as the voice of Snow White and Prince Charming, respectively.


P.S. My all time favorite music from Disney ‘Princess’ movies is actually Once Upon a Dream from Sleeping Beauty, which I’ve highlighted in a stand alone post a year ago.

TANGLED (2010)

Tangled is Disney’s 50th animated feature and it boast the maestro that is Alan Menken as the composer. I grew up listening to his Disney songs, it’s amazing how he could keep churning up beautiful music for every piece that fits the theme of the film so perfectly! According to IMDb trivia, he’s currently tied with famed costume designer Edith Head for third most Academy Awards won, with eight Oscar win. He has won best score and best song for four Disney animated movies: The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992) and Pocahontas (1995).

This romantic piece is by far my favorite from the film. I always tear up every time I watch it. The scenery with all those lanterns are pure Disney magic, I love Rapunzel’s face as she watches them fly to the sky. I LOVE both Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi’s voice in the duet, I had no idea he could sing so well! I was rooting for this to win Best Original Song at the Oscar, but ironically, Randy Newman’s We Belong Together for Pixar’s Toy Story 3 ended up taking the trophy.

BRAVE (2012)

I was thrilled when I heard that Scottish composer Patrick Doyle was going to work on this film! I LOVE his work in Sense & Sensibility and Thor, among others (see my tribute post). Per Wiki, in order to bring some of Scotland’s native flavor to the music, Doyle used native Scottish instruments such as bagpipes, a solo fiddle, Celtic harps, flutes and the bodhrán, with an electronically treated dulcimer and cimbalom to give it a more contemporary feel. “I employed many classic Scottish dance rhythms such as reels, jigs, and strathspeys, which not only serve the action but keep it authentic,” said Doyle.

Well the result is a gorgeous and lush Celtic music that adds so much to the authenticity of the film. I like the joyful and rousing Touch The Sky that matches the exuberance of Princess Merida, but my favorite is the instrumental piece that captures the Scottish theme so well. I LOVE this one called Legends Are Lessons, especially after the 2:35 mark when the bagpipes start playing. I wish I could be transported to the Scottish Highlands as I’m listening to it! 😀


I hope you enjoy these songs. What are YOUR favorite Disney/Pixar soundtrack?