Hardly anyone at Disney could have guessed that a remake of their classic The Little Mermaid would face a wave of protests and backlash long before the film was released. The reason was, of course, the choice of black Holly Bailey for the main role – the white-skinned and red-haired Ariel.
Almost all young Hollywood actresses auditioned for the role of the Little Mermaid, but the choice of the director Rob Marshall unexpectedly fell on Bailey, the singer and actress best known for the duo Chloe x Halle.
The appointment of a dark-skinned actress (with dreadlocks!) to play the blue-eyed little mermaid caused a predictable scandal. Network “fighters for the rights of mermaids” unanimously fell into righteous anger. A series of negative publications began on social networks under the headings NotMyAriel (“Not MyAriel”) and NotMyMermaid (“Not My Little Mermaid”). There were also promises to ignore the film at the box office. The director himself claimed all this time only one thing: Bailey fit perfectly into the role and was more suitable for her than others.
And here we must admit that the director was right. Ariel, performed by Halle Bailey, is the perfect embodiment of the same animated Little Mermaid in a live movie. Everything is in place here – a dreamy look, audacity, sincerity – and stunning crystal clear vocals.
It’s hard to say how Walt Disney’s The Little Mermaid, released in 1989, differs from other equally popular studio projects. But the fact remains: it was after this film that the Disney people began to give out masterpieces almost in a stream.
The Little Mermaid was followed by Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King and other full-length cartoons that became classics of the genre. And when the Disney people began to turn their classic stories into feature films, it was clear that the turn would come to The Little Mermaid. It was only necessary to wait until modern technology would make it possible to shoot a musical, at least half of which takes place under water.
Given the unusual nature of the project and the desire of the Disney studio to turn just a film with songs into a musical, the best forces were involved in the matter. First of all, the project was directed by Rob Marshall, the director who made probably the best adaptation of the popular theatrical musical in the cinema – we are talking, of course, about “Chicago”. This film is an absolute standard of how to transfer theatrical performances to the screens. No wonder this film adaptation was nominated in 2002 for 13 Oscars and won 6 of them, including the award for best film of the year.
Next to the case was connected Lin-Manuel Miranda, the author of the famous musical “Hamilton” – a poet, composer, rapper, actor, director – and in general a man-orchestra. Miranda, along with the author of the music for the original “The Little Mermaid” – Alan Menkenwrote several new songs for the film, and the writers removed all the plot holes of the original, adding a few additional lines.
In general, turning The Little Mermaid into a full-fledged musical is the best part of the new adaptation. All original and nostalgic hits are in place, and there are many of them, it is worth remembering only “Under the sea”, “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, “Part of Your World”. And the new melodies only enriched the musical outline of the production, adding new rhythms here, including rap – an unexpected and spectacular number.
Another unconditional success is the actors. wonderful Melissa McCarthy perfectly entered the role of the sea witch Ursula, Javier Bardem (King Triton), although he plays an unusually small role for him, he does it with great pleasure. The voice acting of secondary characters is a separate song. A very popular actress of Asian origin in recent years Aquafina comes off as the hapless seagull Scuttle. And the star of the original Broadway production of Hamilton David Diggs perfectly voiced one of the key roles of the film – the crab Sebastian.
Not without a fly in the ointment, one way or another connected with special effects. On the one hand, the underwater scenes are spectacular (sometimes even too much). On the other hand, the constant fixation on unnecessary details (for example, the flowing hair of mermaids and King Triton and other “pretty things”) quickly becomes too conspicuous and annoying.
Thus, on the one hand, we are talking about one of the most successful transformations of a Disney cartoon into a feature film. On the other hand, real fans of the original “The Little Mermaid” are unlikely to say that they liked the film more than the original.
And you and I can only wait for the next premiere – the film “Snow White”, in which Gal Gadot will play the unusual negative role of the Evil Queen. Will Snow White be the first film to surpass the original? We will receive an answer to this question in March 2024. Plus – we are getting ready for new lamentations of fighters “for the purity of the race of fairy-tale heroes”: the main role in the film will be played by no means snow-white Rachel Ziegler (by mother, this actress is of Colombian origin). In general, it will not be boring.
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