The Little Mermaid, an instant Disney classic, ushered in the second “golden age of animation.” Now, it is getting the “Diamond Edition” treatment and being released on Blu-Ray. Many have asked, does The Little Mermaid really need to be re-released yet again? Is it really going to be worth another copy in the home Disney library? After reviewing this combo back, the answer is unequivocally yes. The Little Mermaid centers around the title character who is a 16 year old mermaid who happens to also be the daughter of King Triton. Ariel is the youngest of his daughters and also a very free spirit. This obviously causes tension between her and King Triton as she is fascinated with the human world…which is absolutely forbidden. Things go from bad to worse when she saves and falls in love with a human prince, makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula to become human, and attempts to make him fall in love with her. The Little Mermaid is a wonderful Disney animated classic with some of the most beloved Disney songs by the Alan Menkan/Howard Ashman team. It even won Oscars for Best Music, Original Song (Under the Sea) and Best Musical, Original Score.
Picture & Sound:
The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition looked and sounded great! The colors were vibrant and beautiful. This really is important when you think of how colorful everything is. After all, Under the Sea really should be as vibrant visually as it is aurally. The sound was alway wonderful. I found myself noticing how the characters were swimming around my living room as they moved and utilized the surround sound. I was also much more aware of how beautiful the score was. I was definitely quite pleased with how The Little Mermaid looked and sounded for this presentation.
The bonus features that were included with The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition were a treat. I often split up my reviewing process and watch the movie I’m reviewing in one sitting and then the bonus features in another. This time I sat through both in one sitting. I actually found myself being moved by some of these bonus features.
The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition Blu-Ray Bonus Features:
- @DisneyAnimation (HD, 11 minutes): This is a look at the world of Disney Animation. It is primarily through the eyes of Disney animators who were inspired by The Little Mermaid when they were younger and pursued the dream to work in Disney Animation. This one was wonderful and could have been much longer and nobody would complain.
- Under the Scene (HD, 13 minutes): In this bonus feature, the history and rebirth of “live-action reference” is shared. It was quite interesting and definitely fun to watch for any Disney history buff.
- Howard’s Lecture (HD, 16 minutes): Howard Ashman was pivotal in the creation of The Little Mermaid. He put the words to Alan Menken’s music and definitely helped create the heart behind this Disney classic. In this feature, he shares some of the songs that had been written, at this point in the production, with people from Disney Animation. This is a beautiful segment and I would loved to have seen more. I found it to be especially moving as I thought about how Ashman’s life was cut short in 1991. He left behind a beautiful legacy.
- Deleted Character: Harold the Merman (HD, 2 minutes): Directors John Musker and Ron Clements Clements share the deleted scene of Harold the Merman who learned about how Ursula works… the hard way .
- Part of Her World (HD, 5 minutes): “Jodi Benson’s Voyage to New Fantasyland” was shot during the opening of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. It follows Jodi Benson through New Fantasyland with her kids and then also the opening of the resort. It was surprisingly
- Crab-E-Oke Sing Along (HD, 16 minutes): This is the sing along feature that includes: “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” “Les Poissons” & “Kiss the Girl”
- Music Video (HD, 4 minutes): Carly Rae Jepsen performs “Part of Your World.” This was probably my least favorite bonus feature but if you are a fan, you might enjoy it.
The Little Mermaid: Classic DVD Bonus Features:
- Audio Commentary (HD): Directors/writers Ron Clements and John Musker along with composer Alan Menken join together to deliver this audio commentary. It has lots of good tidbits about the creation of the movie but isn’t as entertaining as some other audio commentaries I’ve reviewed.
- Deleted Scenes (SD, 26 minutes): Directors John Musker and Ron Clements Clements introduce these deleted scenes: “Fathom’s Below” (Alternate Version), “Backstage with Sebastian,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (Alternate Version), “Sebastian Lost in the Castle,” “Advice from Sebastian,” “Fight with Ursula” (Alternate Ending) and “Silence is Golden” (Song Demo).
- Backstage Disney (HD/SD): These extras are combined together to create the “Backstage Disney” section:
- The Little Match Girl (HD, 7 minutes): A cute little animated short and introduction.
- The Making of The Little Mermaid (SD, 46 minutes): This is an in-depth documentary about the making of The Little Mermaid.
- The Story Behind the Story (SD, 11 minutes): This is a look at the original Hans Christian Anderson’s version of The Little Mermaid.
- Storm Warning: Special Effects Unit (SD, 9 minutes): A look at the storm in the movie and how it was created.
- Under the Sea Early Presentation Reel (SD, 3 minutes): A musical look at the Under the Sea concept art.
- John & Ron Make Caricatures of Each Other (SD, 1 minute): The Little Mermaid directors draw each other.
- Animators Comment on their Characters (SD, 2 minutes): Quick interviews where the animators talk about their characters.
- The Little Mermaid Handshake (SD, 1 minute): The film’s secret handshake. Yes, this really existed.
- Original Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 minutes): This is what was shown to movie viewers in the late 1980’s.
- Music & More (HD/SD, 14 minutes): Four songs that have the lyrics included: (HD) — “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” “Les Poissons” and “Kiss the Girl,” and a second rendition of “Kiss the Girl” (SD) music video by Ashley Tisdale.
- Disneypedia: Life Under the Sea (HD, 8 minutes): A look at undersea wildlife for the kids.
- Behind the Ride that Almost Was (HD, 6 minutes): A look at the ride that almost was…when there wasn’t really an attraction devoted to The Little Mermaid.
- Under the Sea Adventure (SD, 4 minutes): A virtual ride through.
I will admit that I was skeptical going into the reviewing process of The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition. I remember being pretty happy with the last release of this film and I really was unsure what else could be done to improve it. I should never make the mistake of underestimating the work put into a Diamond Edition release. The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition looked and sounded beautiful. The pacing of this movie is wonderful and there were no boring moments as the movie just keeps swimming along. It isn’t too long or too short and is totally family friendly. And then there are those bonus features. They were a joy to watch and between the Howard Ashman segment, @DisneyAnimation, and the Part of Her World I really found myself enjoying the review process. This really is a quality blu-ray release and one that is definitely worth having in your own personal Disney library. I whole heartedly give a hat tip to The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition. Go out and get this one. You won’t regret it.
Sneak Peek at Bonus Features:
Bonus Clip: Broadway Moments
Description: Check out a special behind-the-scenes moment where lyricist Howard Ashman coaches Jodi through “Part of That World” instilled with his famous Broadway sensibility.
Bonus Clip: Harold The Merman- Deleted Scene
Description: Meet Harold the Merman, a bumbling likable character that unfortunately didn’t make it to the final film but has always been held dear in the hearts of co-writer and co-directors Ron Clements and John Musker.
Bonus Clip: Fitting In And Pop Music
Description: Ron Clements and John Musker discuss how Howard Ashman incorporated pop music into the soundtrack and the way he made the music seamlessly fit into the story.
Bonus Clip: Live Action Dinner and Improv
Description: Take a look at the live action reference scenes that inspired the animation for the dinner scene featuring a dinglehopper and a snarfblat!
Bonus Clip: Live Action Eric
Description: See Prince Eric’s live action reference model in action!