If you missed out on seeing The Little Mermaid in theaters early this summer, then we have good news for you. This week, the 2023 remake of the animated classic has arrived on Disney+. And as you either revisit the big-screen musical or finally watch the live-action Disney remake for the first time, we need to talk about one big way that this version sets itself apart from the original 1989 Disney animated flick. On that note, when CinemaBlend interviewed director Rob Marshall ahead of its theatrical release, he discussed why it’s much “more emotional” in live action.
Rob Marshall’s The Little Mermaid really establishes its tone with its opening shots, which features gorgeous footage of ocean waves rolling along. A Hans Christian Anderson quote also appears on screen that reads: “But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more." Marshall shared his reasoning for starting the movie in such an emotional way, with these words:
I really wanted to pay tribute to Hans Christian Anderson because that’s obviously where it all began. This is his classic tale, and there was something very profound about that statement to me – that [mermaids] have no tears, that they feel so much more, that they suffer so much more, because here we are doing a live action and I want you to feel. It’s a more emotional tale I think in this version, because we can go deeper with real people, that’s the difference and the time to tell the story.
Since the movie hit theaters, it's been praised for its deeper exploration of the original story’s themes. That includes its approach to fleshing out Prince Eric from the “wooden character” he was in the animated movie and crafting a more nuanced romance between Ariel and Eric. Part of how the 2023 new movie release communicates that and more is through its first frames with the aforementioned quote from Hans Christian Anderson, the author who original penned the beloved fairytale. You can see the message below:
There’s definitely something about seeing the film open with this quote that really sets the stage for a less glitzy telling of the tale. It puts into perspective how the world of Halle Bailey’s Ariel is perhaps not as romanticized as the animated version's is. Ironically, one can get emotional due to the sheer though that her kind cannot even cry like humans do. This tone just encompasses the entire feature. For instance, the “Part Of Your World” sequence is much more palpable, thanks to the movie’s taking a “more emotional” approach. During our conversation with Rob Marshall, the director also said this about the tone:
And, I have to say the Eric character with Ariel, you’re creating almost a Romeo & Juliet-esque tale where they find each other even when they are not meant to be together, but they still find each other and find that wonderful bridge between those two worlds, so somehow I felt like having that [quote] immediately at the beginning, reminding us where this all began and saying that about mermaids, and I felt it could bring depth to the whole thing.
Since the film released in May, the movie received positive reviews from general audiences and critics alike. CinemaBlend’s own The Little Mermaid review awarded the production four out of five stars. While the movie didn’t make a billion dollars at the box office like other live-action Disney movies or other bigger hits this year like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Barbie, it remains a stunning adaptation of a beloved story with a sweet, emotional core. To experience those feels again or for the first time, check out the movie now using a Disney+ subscription.