The new mermaid changes the ending in an important way

The line that gives me a headache every time I watch the 1989 animated version of Little Mermaid not one of the popular songs — lyrics from “Part of your world,” Ariel’s defiant “But Daddy, I love him,” or even one of Sebastian’s sarcastic lines. It takes place at the end of the movie, when Triton finally realizes that Ariel would be happier on land and uses his magic trident to give her legs. Then he turned to Sebastian and said, “I guess there’s only one problem – how much I’ll miss her.”

That moment has more impact than any other line in the movie, because it breaks the usual “happily ever after” narrative. Unlike Disney’s other fairy tale endings, the ending of Little Mermaid so bitter. True love will save time, and have a big wedding. But unlike Cinderella who escaped her abusive stepmother or Beauty and the BeastWhen Belle reunites with her father, Ariel leaves behind her loving family to start a new life — and she can never go back to the way things were.

New 2023 live-action remake of Little Mermaid keep the same line, but change the ending around it slightly in a way that overwrites the original movie’s sequel, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. But as it turns out, that’s not such a bad thing.

[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for the 2023 Little Mermaid, and also for Return to the Sea.]

King Triton hugs Ariel on her wedding day in the 1989 cartoon The Little Mermaid

Image: Disney

Triton is a strict and overprotective parent, but like many parents, he does what he does because he believes he is keeping his daughter safe. However, unlike many parents, he recognizes mistakes in his ways and takes the opportunity to correct them. He had to let his daughter go to give her a chance to be happy. But he’s still sad! It is moving! It’s likely that strict fathers have the ability to grow up and realize that what they want isn’t necessarily what their daughters want!

The idea that Ariel must part ways with Triton forever in order to achieve her dreams is once again highlighted in the VHS live-streaming sequel, where she makes the difficult choice of cutting all contact with the world. under the sea to protect her daughter from Ursula’s vengeful sister. In spite of The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea one of direct sequel to Disney’s better videothat era is not necessarily known to Good movie. But there’s one particularly poignant scene in this scene, when the adult Ariel walks to the beach and dips her feet in the water, looking up at the sky and sighing that she misses her father.

Adult Ariel closes her eyes and soaks her feet in sea water

Image: Disney

While screenwriter David Magee and director Rob Marshall preserved many things from the 1989 animated film in their live-action versions — including giving Javier Bardem the “I’ll miss her” line in the movie. as Triton, who portrayed it with as much tenderness and sadness as it deserved – they made a smart choice to tweak the ending so it wasn’t as painful. And in the process, they closed the door to any potential adaptations of a direct-to-VHS sequel.

Ariel and Eric are still married in the 2023 movie version, but their wedding is less important. The important thing is that they embark on a long sea journey together, satisfying both of their desire to explore and hopefully expand diplomatic relations to Eric’s small island nation. As they were sailing, preparing to set sail, Triton emerged from the water and looked seriously at Ariel and Eric. More and more mermaids emerge from the water, and Triton tells Ariel that they will always be here for her.

Javier Bardem as King Triton, sternly looking at Ariel

Image: Disney

It’s a small detail, but it still changes the ending dramatically. Ariel doesn’t have to choose between worlds. She feels happier and more comfortable in the human world, but part of her will always be a mermaid. This time, however, instead of a goodbye, the ending feels like a new chapter for Ariel and her relationship with the underwater world. Marshall and Magee instill some imaginary conflict between mermaids and humans into this version, without ever really delving into it or resolving it. But that conflict makes an ending where Ariel doesn’t have to choose between worlds even more resonant.

There is still one much dive into (ha) in a potential sequel. (possible sequel because these live remakes continue to be published.) And it won’t have to focus on giving Ariel a baby, or cutting her off from the mermaid world. Ariel and Eric’s relationship represents something new for both humans and mermaids, and their seafaring mission is sure to take them to literally uncharted waters. and figurative. Back to the sea may not happen in live action, but there are plenty of oceans to explore out there. This time, Ariel knows that her father will always be with her, now he has learned to let her go.


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