It seems unbelievable that The Little Mermaid came out 30 years ago. The two-time Academy Award-winner (Best Original Score and Best Original Song “Under the Sea”) launched the incredible Disney Renaissance age and prompted a whole new generation to fall in love with Disney animation. Now The Little Mermaid joins the Walt Disney Signature Collection when it arrives for the first time on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray on February 26 (it became available on Digital in HD, 4K Ultra HD, and Movies Anywhere on Feb. 12).
Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale, The Little Mermaid is a story about Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of life and love beyond the sea. It has been several years since I watched The Little Mermaid in its entirety but all of those same childhood feelings were right there. Whether you saw the movie as a kid or as an adult, it will still pull at your heart to watch it again.
One of the best features of the Signature Edition is the sing-along mode. It reminded me of the VHS tapes of Disney sing-alongs I had growing up. Watching the film with this mode activated was fun and added a punch of emotion that I wasn’t expecting. I got teary singing “Part of Your World” with Ariel as she longs to explore and experience more. I absolutely got into the groove during “Under the Sea” and wow is “Poor Unfortunate Souls” still such a killer villain song.
The other bonus features included on the Blu-ray are also fantastic. “Alan Menken & the Leading Ladies Song” brought the legendary composer together with Jodi Benson (Ariel), Paige O’Hara (Belle), Judy Kuhn (Pocahontas Singing Voice), Lillias White (Calliope) and Donna Murphy (Mother Gothel). Each leading lady talked about working on their respective film and how much Disney films resonate with people of all ages and leave a lasting impact. They also each sang a short section of one of their most famous songs. When Kuhn sang just the opening to “Colors of the Wind”, I got goosebumps, and Benson and O’Hara immediately choked up with tears.
“What I Want From You…Is YOUR VOICE” showed some of the voice cast during their original recording sessions. It’s clear how much the animators looked at the mannerisms and physicality of the voice actors when designing the characters. Before Buddy Hackett’s name ever came on screen, I knew he was Scuttle not only because of his voice but because his expressions were just like Scuttle’s.
In addition to new bonus features, there are also some classic features that are included. Two standouts are “Howard’s Lecture”, a touching tribute to lyricist and producer Howard Ashman, who passed away in 1991, and “Under The Scene: The Art Of Live Action Reference”. The latter was a fascinating dive into the actors who performed many of the scenes in Disney’s animated films, including The Little Mermaid, and how their performances helped shape the final look and style of classic characters. Watching this featurette, it was obvious that Ariel as we all know her, particularly her goofiness and big expressions, is a stunning compilation of live actor Sherri Lynn Stoner and voice actor Benson. Live actor Joshua Finkel played Eric and his talent for staging influenced the princely way the animators drew the final version of Eric. Watching this feature and then the film, it was obvious that we wouldn’t have The Little Mermaid without Stoner and Finkel.
Other Bonus Features included are:
BLU-RAY & DIGITAL
- Stories From Walt’s Office – Gadgets & Gizmos – Like Ariel, Walt Disney was a collector of many different things from miniatures to early mechanical characters that inspired the invention of audio-animatronics. We take a look at some the collections that Walt kept in his office in the third episode of this series.
- #TreasuresUntold – Join Ruby Rose Turner and Olivia Sanabia from the Disney Channel Original Series “Coop and Cami Ask the World” as they take a deep dive to explore some hidden treasures and fun facts about Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”
- DCapella “Part of Your World” Music Video
- Classic Bonus Features – revisit four exciting bonus features from previous releases including:
- Deleted Character: Harold The Merman
- Audio Commentary With Ron Clements, John Musker and Alan Menken
- “Part of Your World” – A 30-Year Retrospective – Songwriter Alan Menken and Jodi Benson, the acting and singing voice of Ariel, sing the epitome of Disney “I Want” songs “Part of Your World” and discuss its impact since it was first heard 30 years ago.
- Classic Bonus Features – Over 3 additional hours of previously released classic bonus features including Deleted Scenes, Easter Eggs, Music Videos and more!
Whether or not The Little Mermaid is already a part of your collection, this Signature Edition is worth picking up on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray on February 26.
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