Monday, 24 October 2016


Fig.1 'The Little Mermaid' Poster

Walt Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' (1989) is a film full of wonder and delight. It follows the story of Ariel, a young mermaid who dreams of being on the surface and interacting with humans, which she does, but not without having to trade her beautiful singing voice to the evil sea witch Ursula. This Review will look at the opposing characters and how their roles work within the story.

Fig.2 Film Still

Ariel and Ursula are polar opposites within 'The Little Mermaid' story. Both having traits that give their characters different goals and flaws. 
Ariel is a young, mermaid who' has a goal of reaching the surface and being with the humans. She has a very naive and vague outlook on life. Her intentions are pure, but sometimes she goes about things in a slightly, unintentional yet rebellious way. Her inherited world is that of the ocean. Her place of both, but as the story progresses she begins to feel that the land is the place for her. Her outer appearance mirrors her internal traits, he is young which is reflected in her design and her personality. Her story arc leads her to her happy ending. She meets the man of her dreams, falls in love and gets married on the land.

Ursula on the other hand is Ariel's opposite. She is old, evil and scheming. Her main goal is to steal Ariel's voice for her own personal gain. Just like Ariel, Ursula's physical appearance reflects her inner traits. She has a face of pure evil, her multitude of octopus-like limbs float around her like a small personal army able of luring in any lost soul, in this case it's the poor, young Ariel.
Both characters have distinct differences and are quite clearly in opposition with one another. 
But there is another character that at one point in the film opposes Ariel. Her father, King Triton.

Fig.3 Film Still
There comes a point in the film when King Triton comes across as a villain. As a father to Ariel he is protective. He has his own values, he is king of the water and believes that a mermaids home is the water and that is it. He is stuck in his ways. Although his intentions are clearly for Ariel's benefit (in his opinion) he does come across villainous. If Ursula wasn't introduced to the audience, viewers could have the though of King Triton being the films main protagonist. 
Though his values are written into his DNA, King Triton gives in to the fact that he must let his daughter go for her to be truly happy. So in a closing scene of 'The Little Mermaid' he grants Ariel her wish and uses his powers to give her legs and marry her true love. 

In conclusion, 'The Little Mermaid' is a very simple film with a simple plot and disposable villain, but it's story and the characters and the way they are portrayed gives the film a richness that entices the viewer to watch and then watch again. Roger Ebert says, 'Walt Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' is a jolly and inventive animated fantasy - a movie that's so creative and so much fun it deserves comparison with the best Disney work of the past.' (Ebert, 1989) 'The Little Mermaid' A true classic within the Walt Disney animated features. 


Ebert, R (1989) 'The Little Mermaid' At: Accessed on: 24/10/2016


Figure 1. 'The Little Mermaid' (1989) [Film Poster] At: Accessed on: 24/10/2016 

Figure 2. [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 24/10/2016

Figure 3. [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 24/10/2016