Disney's The Little Mermaid had its premier in November 1989, and in its wake left a massive imprint on the
collective mind of pop culture. The Little Mermaid kicked-off Disney's Rennaisance Years, making animation
cool and relevant again, after the slump they faced during the 1980s. The movie was directed by Ron Clements and
John Musker, a directing dynamic duo who were also behind The Great Mouse Detective, Aladdin,
Hercules, Treasure Planet, The Princess and the Frog and Moana.
Disney's The Little Mermaid tells the tale of Ariel, the little mermaid who's more curious about the forbidden
human world than is healthy for her. Despite the restraints set upon by her protective father, Ariel continues to visit
the surface and one day sets eyes upon Prince Eric, who immediately steals her heart. She saves his life, and the bond
brings forth love in the young mermaid's heart. She could have been content (for a while) as it were with her yearnings,
but an ill-timed confrontation with her father sets Ariel's plan in motion: she'll make her love known to Eric. A deal
with the wicked sea-witch Ursula has Ariel trading in her voice for legs and a chance to win Eric's heart within
three days, or else all is lost.
The movie brought to prominence stage actress Jodi Benson as the voice of Ariel, as it did Pat Caroll as Ursula and
Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian. The rest of the cast includes Christopher Daniel Barnes as Eric, Jason Marin as Founder,
Kenneth Mars as King Triton, Buddy Hackett as Scuttle, Ben Wright as Grimsby, Paddi Edwards as Flotsam and Jetsam,
Edie McClurg as Carlotta and Rene Auberjonois as Chef Louis.
The Little Mermaid has music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, both of whom also played roles in
the shaping of Ariel's story. The original soundtrack was released in 1989, and won that year's Academy Award for Best
Original Score and Best Original Song (for Under the Sea).
The Little Mermaid broke new ground with its initial release on VHS in 1990, a mere few months
after the film was released in theatres, making it an unusual move for the relatively new home media industry. In 1998
there was another VHS release under the Masterpiece Collection.
The first DVD came along in 1999 in the Limited Issue DVD, which didn't have much in the way of extras.
This was fixed in 2006 with the release of the 2-disc Platinum Edition DVD, which also had restored video
and audio, and came with a whole bunch of extras including new restrospective featurettes, deleted scenes, and games (full
list of extras below). In 2008, the film was released again in a
The Little Mermaid Trilogy set that includes The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea and The
Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning.
In 2013 the film was released again as part of the Diamond Edition, with the DVD and Blu-Ray versions
having different covers. The films were remastered for high-def, though sadly there were some errors in this remaster, in
that a few seconds during "Part of Your World" were switched around (though people who traded in their DVDs/Blu-Rays could
get a fixed version), plus a few seconds were shaved off from a number of scene transitions. This Diamond Edition DVD/Blu-Ray
was also bundled together with its sequel and prequel in a The Little Mermaid Complete Collection.
Kiss the Girl music video - The music video for Ashley Tisdale's cover of the Kiss the Girl,
specially recorded for this DVD release.
Under the Sea Adventure: A Virtual Ride Inspired by Walt Disney Imagineering - A featurette about
the Little Mermaid theme park ride that was at the time not yet built, and includes behind-the-scenes
images, interviews with the Imagineers who designed it, as well as a CGI video of the ride itself.
DisneyPedia: Life Under the Sea - An upbeat educational featurette about the sea life that
inspired various characters in the film.
The Little Match Girl - An animated short based on the Hans Christian Andersen story, directed
by Roger Allers and originally intended to be part of Fantasia 2000 but became its own independent
Treasures Untold: The Making of Disney's The Little Mermaid - A 45-minute-long featurette
where various people who were involved in making the film look back on the experience and recall the ups and downs
and joys and frustrations in bringing The Little Mermaid to life. Contemporary footage and interviews are
intercut with historical footage of the making of the film, making it a behind-the-scenes/nostalgia combo. The
featurette itself is split into chapters, but can also be viewed as one continuous video. People interviewed include
Ron Clements and John Musker (the film's writer-directors); Jeffrey Katzenberg (chairman of Walt Disney studios at
the time of making the film); Peter Schneider (VP of Walt Disney Feature Animation at the time of making the film);
Alan Menken (composer); Rogers Allers (storyboard artist); Glen Keane, Ruben Aquino and Andreas Deja (animators);
Jodi Benson and Pat Carroll (voice actors); and more.
Storm Warning: The Special Effects Unit - An 8-minute featurette about the animation special effects
team that pulled off the technically-challenging storm setpiece in the film. They discuss the inspiration they drew
from (including the Monstro scene in Pinocchio) as well as the various techniques to make the scene
The Story Behind the Story - This 11-minute featurette discusses three versions of the little mermaid's
story side by side, contrasting the differences of each: the original by Hans Christian Andersen, the 1941
treatment by Walt Disney (who was thinking of adapting the story for a short), and the 1989 film. Ron Clements and
John Musker in particular highlight the decisions they made in adapting the story for Ariel.
Easter Eggs - There are three little clips that can be accessed by hidden links in the menu. The clips
are of John Musker and Ron Clements drawing caricatures of each other, Glen Keane and Ruben Aquino talking about
animating their characters (with brief footage of the live-action reference footage with Sherri Stoner), and John
and Ron demonstrating the "Little Mermaid handshake".
Art Galleries - A picture gallery that can be browsed through menus. The images are separated into
sections, which are: Visual Development (general development art and early inspiration for the film),
Kay Nielsen artwork (development art for Walt Disney's 1941 attempt of adapting the story), Character
Design (development art specific for the characters in the film), Storyboard Art (script/story art of
specific scenes in the film), Backgrounds (art of backgrounds in the film), and Production Photos
(photographs of the crew and cast during the making of the film).
Early Presentation Reel - A presentation reel made early during the film's development, using concept
art to show the story of the whole film, and set to a demo version of Under the Sea.
Deleted Scenes - Fathoms Below (alternate version), Backstage with Sebastian,
Poor Unfortunate Souls (alternate version), Sebastian Lost in the Castle, Advice from
Sebastian, Fight with Ursula / Alternate Ending, Silence is Golden (audio only).
Original Theatrical Trailer - The original trailer for the film.
The Little Mermaid III: Sneak Peek - Early teaser for The Little Mermaid III, which was still
under production at the time and eventually turned into The Little Mermaid: Ariel's
Diamond Edition (2013)
Part of Your World music video - The music video for Carly Rae Jepsen's cover of Part of Your
World, specially recorded for this DVD/Blu-Ray release.
@DisneyAnimation - A new video about life working at Disney Animation Studio, featuring interviews with
John Musker, Ron Clements, Mark Henn and Ruben Aquino, as well as various younger animators and artists in the
studio including Brittney Lee, Hyun-Min Lee, Kira Lehtomaki, Chad Sellers and John Kahrs.
Deleted Character - Early scenes of Harold the Merman, a victim of Ursula who was dropped
from the film.
Under the Scene: The Art of Live-Action Reference - A 13-minute featurette about the live-action
reference footage that was filmed to help the animators. This video has clips of the reference footage itself,
intercut with new interviews with John Musker, Ron Clements, Ruben Aquino and Mark Henn; actress
Kathryn Beaumont who voiced Alice and Wendy, and did the live-action footage for those characters; and actors
Sherri Lynn Stoner and Joshua Finkel, who played Ariel and Eric respectively in the reference footage.
Howard's Lecture - A 16-minute nostalgia feature and tribute to Howard Ashman. The video intercuts
between recent interviews with John Musker, Ron Clements and Jodi Benson talking about Howard's influence on the
story, and old footage of a lecture Howard gave during the development of the film where Howard talks about the use
of music in the film.
Part of Her World: Jodi Benson's Voyage to New Fantasyland - A new video about Jodi Benson and her
two children at the launch of the Art of Animation Resort at Walt Disney World, and exploring New Fantasyland
including the new The Little Mermaid-themed ride.
Plus the following extras which are all transferred from the Platinum Edition DVD:
Kiss the Girl music video (Ashley Tisdale)
Under the Sea Adventure: A Virtual Ride Inspired by Walt Disney Imagineering
DisneyPedia: Life Under the Sea
The Little Match Girl
Treasures Untold: The Making of Disney's The Little Mermaid
Storm Warning: The Special Effects Unit
The Story Behind the Story
John Musker and Ron Clements draw caricatures of each other
Glen Keane and Ruben Aquino talk about animating their characters
John and Ron demonstrate the "Little Mermaid handshake"
All the links below go to youtube videos uploaded by other people.
Disney Channel's Making of The Little Mermaid (1989)
This behind-the-scene feature was aired prior to the premiere of the film,
and is hosted by Alyssa Milano, who introduces the various creators and cast involved in the making of
the film. There's some great interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. The whole video is just under
Disney's film is based on "The Little Mermaid", a story
written by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen and published in 1837.
A classic fairytale, Andersen's story is melancholy and spiritual,
following the actions of the little mermaid when she falls in love with a human and learns the cost and sacrifices that
come with it. Central to this original story is the fact that merfolk live for hundreds of years but turn to sea foam when
they die; in comparison, humans have shorter lifespans but have immortal souls that live on forever. It's through the little
mermaid's selfless love that she gets to move on from her original fate and into a new one.
The themes of the original story are very different from Disney's adaptation, which turns it into a modern coming-of-age
story with a father-daughter relationship at the centre of it, along with a Faustian plot courtesy of Ursula's