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An Aquatic Tale of The Little Mermaid (2023)

The live-action remake brings adventure and shows viewers why representation is important in a Disney Princess movie.

The Little Mermaid (2023)

5 / 5
4.5 / 5

The Little Mermaid (2023) is a live-action remake of the 1989 animated movie of the same name.

The Little Mermaid (2023) is most notable for the lead female actress, Halle Bailey, who plays Ariel. Halle Bailey is an African American actress playing the main role, a historic first. There are noticeable differences between the design of Ariel from the live-action remake and the animated movie adaptations. In the 1989 version of The Little Mermaid, Ariel’s character design was simple; she had pale skin, red hair, blue eyes, an hourglass figure, and red lips. In the live-action remake, Ariel’s design is more detailed; her mermaid tail and seashell bikini top are more detailed, shimmering in sparkling blues that Halle replicated on the red carpet premiere of the movie. Ariel having brown skin and an Afrocentric loc hairstyle in a darker shade of red was controversial for people who always have an issue with such things. However, the pure joy of viewers everywhere, especially young black girls and boys, has been the dominant expression of this historic adaptation.

Halle Bailey’s voice captures the spirit of Ariel’s character; in the animated movie, she has the most beautiful voice, and Bailey captures this in the live-action version. Ariel’s song, “Part Of Your World”, has new musical notes to give viewers a new take on the beloved classic.

Halle Bailey in mermaid shimmer.
Halle Bailey as Ariel

The supporting roles are diverse and well-cast also. Awkwafina does voice acting for Scuttle in The Little Mermaid (2023). This is one of the surprises, as Scuttle was voiced by a male actor in the animated movie. In addition, the names of Ariel’s sisters have changed; Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, and Alana appear in the animated movie, but in the live-action remake, Ariel’s sisters are renamed to Perla, Caspia, Indira, Karina, Mala, and Tameka. This is because, in the animated movie, Ariel’s sisters play a minor role in the storyline. Ariel remains the same since her character is described as a “fish out of water”. In the 1989 animated film, her mother is neither shown nor mentioned. In the live-action remake, Queen Selina is a new character who is Eric’s adoptive mother, someone not seen or mentioned in the animated film.

The setting of the underwater kingdom is more realistic in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid (2023). Compared to the oceanic setting in the animated movie, the ocean appears to be darker, most likely to distinguish the darkness of the bottom of the sea and the surface to viewers. During the day, the underwater kingdom is clearly shown; at night, the ocean is dark. When Ariel transforms into a human, the animation in the 1989 film shows only her silhouette; the live-action remake shows only her upper half. When she is on land, viewers see her bare legs in the animated film and the live-action remake. The live-action remake brings adventure and shows viewers why the representation of Black Women is important in a Disney Princess movie.