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Unveiling the Ocean’s Secrets: Fascinating Facts About Princess Ariel

Princess Ariel is the beloved protagonist of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Since her debut in 1989, Ariel has enchanted audiences with her fiery red hair, adventurous spirit, and melodious voice. Beyond her role as a Disney princess, Ariel represents a pivotal moment in Disney’s animation history, marking the beginning of the celebrated Disney Renaissance, which brought some of the best and classic films in Disney’s history of filmmaking.

This article explores the fascinating facets of Princess Ariel, from the inspirations behind her creation to the cultural impact she has had over the decades. As we unravel the secrets of Ariel’s enduring appeal, we discover not just a mermaid princess longing for life on land but a symbol of curiosity, freedom, and the pursuit of one’s dreams. Join us on this journey as we delve into the depths of Ariel’s story, revealing the interesting and often surprising facts about one of Disney’s most iconic characters.

The Classic Fairy Tale – The Little Mermaid

Hans Christian Andersen

The story of Disney’s The Little Mermaid is based on the fairy tale of the same name that was written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen and originally published in 1837 as one of the stories included in the collection of fairy tales for children. Here is an overview of the fairy tale:

  • Fairy Tales Told for Children. First Collection. – this is the title of the collection of fairy tales for children that Hans Christian Andersen wrote and published in 1837. Along with The Little Mermaid, it also has eight more fairy tales.
  • The Little Mermaid – the original story of The Little Mermaid focuses on a young princess who wanted to give up her life as a mermaid in order to be human and be with the Prince, whom she saved from drowning after his ship sank during a storm.

The Story

The Little Mermaid’s original story is close to the Disney version, although it can be argued that the Disney iteration had a happier ending than the original. Below are the key factors to know about the original story of The Little Mermaid.

  • Basic Plot – the plot of The Little Mermaid revolves around the titular character wanting to become human by giving up her life as a mermaid princess. This decision was fueled by meeting the handsome Prince, whom she saved after the Prince’s ship sank due to a violent storm. The Little Mermaid later asked her mother if humans can live forever, to which her mother answered that humans have shorter lifespans than mermaids (as they can live for 300 years), but the former has an eternal soul that goes to heaven, while mermaids simply cease to exist once they die.
  • Meeting the Prince – desperate to gain eternal soul and become human, the Little Mermaid sought the help of a Sea Witch, who sold her a potion that gave the mermaid legs in exchange for her tongue or voice. The mermaid drank the potion and became human. However, after becoming human and meeting the Prince, she becomes mute and suffers excruciating pain for every step using her new legs. Unfortunately, the Prince didn’t fall in love with the Little Mermaid, as she was already in love with a princess from a neighboring kingdom.
  • The End of the Little Mermaid – after the Prince wedded the princess from another kingdom, the Little Mermaid’s heart was broken. During the Little Mermaid’s moment of lamentation, her sister came to her and brought her a dagger given by the Sea Witch. The dagger is intended to be the weapon that the Little Mermaid will use to kill the Prince. However, the Little Mermaid cannot bring herself to kill the Prince. After some time, the Little Mermaid’s body dissolves into foam, but she turns into an earthbound spirit instead of ceasing to exist.

The Little Mermaid is a story about finding true love and letting it thrive despite not being reciprocated. Besides true love, the story also aims to let readers learn more about perseverance in achieving one’s goals while also being selfless and kind to others.

Under the Sea: Background and Creation of Princess Ariel

In the mid-1980s, Disney’s animation department was struggling. The idea to adapt “The Little Mermaid” came as part of an effort to rejuvenate the studio. Directors Ron Clements and John Musker, who pitched the idea, were instrumental in steering the project towards its eventual success.

Ariel’s design was a significant departure from previous Disney princesses. Her distinctive look, with flowing red hair and a green mermaid tail, was developed by animator Glen Keane. Keane drew inspiration from various sources, including the actress and singer Alyssa Milano and astronaut Sally Ride, who inspired the weightless movements of Ariel, as well as the flow of the character’s hair underwater.

Ariel’s personality, marked by her curiosity, independence, and determination, was a shift towards more assertive and complex Disney princesses. Jodi Benson, who provided Ariel’s voice, played a crucial role in bringing emotional depth to the character, particularly through the iconic song “Part of Your World.”

The music of the film, which was composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman, became a cornerstone of the film’s appeal. The soundtrack’s blend of Broadway-style and pop influences helped propel The Little Mermaid to become a cultural phenomenon. Moreover, upon its release, The Little Mermaid received widespread acclaim, breathing new life into Disney animation and influencing a generation of films that followed. Ariel herself became an icon, representing a more modern vision of Disney heroines and inspiring countless adaptations and merchandise.

Interesting Facts about Princess Ariel and The Little Mermaid

As one of Disney’s most iconic characters, Ariel’s story is not just a fairy tale but a mosaic of creative details, cultural impacts, and groundbreaking moments in animation. Here are ten interesting facts about Princess Ariel that showcase the depth and enchanting charm of this undersea Disney princess:

  1. First Red-Haired Disney Princess: Ariel is notable for being the first Disney princess with red hair, setting her apart visually from her predecessors and making her instantly recognizable.
  2. Design Inspiration: Ariel’s appearance was inspired by several sources. Notably, her flowing hair underwater was modeled after footage of astronaut Sally Ride in zero gravity, and her facial features were inspired by actress Alyssa Milano.
  3. First Disney Princess to Become a Mother: In the direct-to-video sequel “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea,” Ariel is shown to have a daughter, making her the first Disney princess to become a mother in the franchise’s history.
  4. Broadway Adaptation: Ariel’s story was adapted into a Broadway musical in 2007, with Sierra Boggess originating the role. The show featured new songs and a deeper exploration of Ariel’s character.
  5. Cultural Impact: Ariel’s character sparked a renewed interest in mermaid folklore and inspired a generation of young viewers. She remains a popular figure in Disney theme parks, merchandise, and media.
  6. Animation Milestone: “The Little Mermaid” marked the beginning of the Disney Renaissance, a period of renewed success and creativity for Disney’s animated films, and Ariel was the face of this revival.
  7. Ariel’s Grotto: In Disney theme parks, Ariel’s Grotto was a popular attraction where guests could meet Ariel and explore her collection of human artifacts.
  8. A Symbol of Change: Ariel represents a significant shift in the portrayal of Disney princesses – from passive characters waiting for rescue to active heroines who pursue their dreams and make their own choices.

Part of Your World

Princess Ariel’s journey from the depths of the ocean to the hearts of millions worldwide is more than a fairy tale; it’s a testament to the enduring power of storytelling, creativity, and character development. Through exploring these fascinating facts about Ariel, we gain insight into not only the intricacies of her character but also the broader impact she has had on animation, culture, and the evolution of the Disney princess archetype.

Ariel emerged as a harbinger of change, representing a shift towards more dynamic and independent heroines in the Disney universe. Her story, underscored by groundbreaking animation and memorable music, paved the way for a new era of animated storytelling during the Disney Renaissance.

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