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Saturday, 21 April 2018

The Little Mermaid: 1st vs 2nd film

Growing up I loved Disney films, and I still do. I adored both the first and second Little Mermaid movies. Earlier I watched them both in reverse order; I wanted to watch the second one anyway, and then felt like watching the first one. In my mind it worked like the first one was a prequel. This post is gonna compare em!

I think the first one is much darker and has some sadder moments than the second one. This includes Triton destroying Ariel's collection, and Ursula turning Triton into one of those creepy creatures. I also thought Ursula was a very freaky villain; as a kid that scene when she becomes huge creeped me out. I prefer her 'crazy sister' Morgana; she's much funnier and made me laugh a lot with her one-liners in a similar way to Hades from Hercules. Ursula has a sense of class and 'glamour' about her (although both villains are pretty ugly) that gives her an air of eerie sophistication. Morgana lacks that which perhaps makes her slightly less creepy (to me).

Morgana also seems less thorough and cautious in her planning, and isn't as powerful as Ursula which her shark points out. Morgana's fury is mostly rooted in jealousy and not feeling good enough and wanting her mother's approval; Ursula's seems more like power for power's sake, although she is also greedy and jealous of Triton. I think in an original screenplay Ursula, Morgana and Triton were siblings but Triton banished his sisters from the kingdom due to their evil ways. This provides some context as to why they're so bitter against Triton (not to mention would make them both Ariel's aunt).

In terms of the protagonists, I know Ariel is an iconic Disney princess but I do prefer Melody. I think Melody is really sweet and has a better and more logical motive for why she does what she does. She is literally half-mermaid; part of her biological make-up is rooted in the sea and so it makes sense for her to want to discover her origins. Parents tend to keep things from their children for their own good, but Ariel should have told Melody about her origins which she does acknowledge later in the film.

By contrast, Ariel's motives are a little flimsy; Melody didn't fit in as a human and was made fun of and shown to be a little awkward. Ariel seemed to have a good home life and a loving father and sisters. Its understandable that she'd be curious about the human world, but the fact that she'd be willing to give up her voice and her family all for a guy she saw for a few minutes is pretty absurd. Sure, this is where we have to remember this is a Disney film for kids and it's not supposed to be logical. And Eric is a lovely guy (fortunately; shame if he ended up being a dickhead) and does want to be with her too.

I love the part where Ariel rescues Eric from drowning (it goes against the 'guy saves girl' stereotype); this is what makes him fall for her; I mean imagine a beautiful girl/guy rescuing you from a dangerous shipwreck and then singing to you as you woke up? C'mon, who hasn't fantasized about that. Ariel does long to live on land but she doesn't seem to have a motive other than curiosity and fascination bordering on obsession. There isn't really much wrong with that but sometimes context can help, which is where I think the second film does a better job as its clear why Melody loves the sea and longs to be a part of it; it's a part of her.

In terms of animation both films are beautiful though the first one is slightly better I feel. I miss the 90s Disney animation and wish it would return to that. The first one definitely has the better songs; it has one of my favourite Disney songs, the iconic 'Under the Sea.' The second one has a few moments where I'm like 'meh', such as the scene when Tip and Dash are 'saving' those penguins. I always liked the 'Adventures slash Explorers' song and its cute, though Sebastian and Flounder are my preferred sidekicks, and of course the scatterbrained Scuttle. Sebastian is one of my favourite characters in both movies; he pretends to act all grumpy and refined but he really has a heart of gold.

So yeah, in terms of story I think the second one makes more sense; girl runs away from home in order to discover her true identity fits better than girl gives up her voice for a shot with a guy she just met. The whole plan also reeked of craziness; Ariel only had three days, she wouldn't get her voice, and if successful she wouldn't be able to see her family again. Morgana made her plan seem to make a lot more sense when she manipulated Melody; Melody wasn't to know the Trident was her grandfather's as she didn't know who her granddaddy was, and she wanted to stay a mermaid. Yes, both were prepared to abandon their families for their own desires, but Ariel's seemed to be more out of selfishness whereas Melody was upset at being lied to her whole life. Also, Ariel is sixteen in the first movie whereas Melody is twelve in the second, yet Melody is more mature and grounded.

However, I do like Ariel as a character; she's kind, brave, fiesty and courageous and fiercely loves her family. I just think she's a little selfish but that's the way she was written. I guess if her home life had been unhappy it would have made more sense for her to want to run away and become a human. And both are beeaauutiful; Ariel is one of the prettiest Disney girls for sure.

Do you like both films or prefer one over the other? I know most people tend not to like sequels as much as the first movie, particularly if the first movie was very iconic. Let me know what you think!

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