In just the last 3 years, Disney have pumped out live-action remakes of The Jungle Book, Beauty And The Beast, Christopher Robin, Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King, Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil, and Lady And The Tramp. That’s a large number of films, and that’s not even counting Alice Through The Looking Glass because it was awful and doesn’t deserve to be on that list.
With all the money and acclaim that most of these films have received, it’s no surprise that Disney is leaning quite heavily on this live-action remake schtick for the next few years to come. But of all the upcoming projects, the most interesting one is the remake of The Little Mermaid.
After years of development hell, word on the street is that the movie will begin production as early as 2020 and will involve Rob Marshall as director and Lin Manuel Miranda writing the music alongside Alan Menken, the original composer for the 1989 animated Little Mermaid film.
While we have no idea what the remake will be like or who will even play Ariel, we can almost guarantee it will follow Disney’s movie rather than the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.
That’s because the original story of The Little Mermaid is unbearably cooked. We’re talking about childhood-ruining levels of messed up here.
The OG story and the Disney film share the same basic premise – mermaid sees prince on his ship, she rescues him from drowning, they fall in love, she visits the sea witch who takes her voice in exchange for legs, and the prince must kiss her within a couple of days if she is to remain human.
The big and twisted differences between the two versions of the story lie in the smaller details.
In the original fairy tale, the mermaid must receive a kiss from the prince or she will die (as mermaids don’t have souls and the prince’s kiss will give her a small part of his soul) as opposed to the animated film’s penalty of simply turning back to a mermaid. After turning into a human, it is also revealed that the penalty of having legs is every step the mermaid takes will feel like she is walking on glass and her feet will bleed everywhere, a little detail that Disney conveniently glossed over.
Rather than being sympathetic to the mermaid’s awful situation and kissing her straight away upon their reunion on land, the prince gleefully asks her to dance for him out of amusement, which so does so despite going through excruciating pain. It gets even worse from this point.
Instead of marrying the mermaid and giving her the kiss she deserves, the prince ends up marrying another woman who he thinks rescued him from drowning, something that the mermaid can’t correct him on since she, you know, traded away her voice for her legs.
Yes, the prince is a clueless and heartless dick in the OG story.
At this point the mermaid is given a choice: kill the prince and turn back into a mermaid or have blood pour out of her feet like a firehose until she dies. While the prince more than deserves a knife to the heart rather than her love, the mermaid can’t do it and instead throws herself into the sea and turns into sea foam.
Despite warnings of going to the pearly gates if the prince doesn’t kiss her, the mermaid doesn’t completely “die”. Due to her selflessness, the mermaid turns into an spirit of sorts who is given the chance to maybe earn a soul (again, since mermaids don’t have souls) if she spends the next 300 years doing good deeds for mankind.
Aaaand that’s the end. It’s not exactly the happy ending like in the Disney film but it’s, well, an ending so let’s just leave it at that.
Having read the original story of The Little Mermaid, it’s probably a good thing that Disney made all those changes to Andersen’s fairy tail because the number of traumatised children (and adults) would’ve been astronomical.
Dark and gritty may be the thing in Hollywood these days but we’re a few decades before Disney descends into this level of depravity. But hey, we’re at least a few years out from even seeing a teaser photo of The Little Mermaid remake so who knows what the final result may be. There’s a chance – albeit a ridiculously low one – we’ll see Ariel dancing for the prince while blood gushes out from her feet.
You know what, please just adapt the 1989 animated version. We don’t need any more nightmare fuel.