The Voice

The Voice

The Voice

Once Upon A Screen: Episode 4

Join Reagan Young as she describes the real and more terrifying story of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”

The ocean.

The beautiful, vast, unexplored, and ultimately terrifying ocean. The ocean takes up 70% of Earth’s surface, and although humans have been sailing and conquering the seas for upwards of 10,000 years, we have only explored about 5% of it.

It is impossible to know what is out there. We discover about 2,000 new species every year, and we find more every day. From anglerfish, to spider crabs, to giant squids, who knows what else could be out there?

The Kraken, Scylla, and maybe even mermaids.

Mermaids have fascinated humans for millennia, more specifically young girls, telling thousands of stories of beautiful women who are half-fish, half-human. However, one story stands above the rest; the story that most people think of when they hear “mermaid.”

On November 17, 1989, Disney released their newest animated film: “The Little Mermaid.” Grossing over $235 million worldwide, the film changed Disney forever, becoming a beacon of hope for the then financially struggling company, paving the way for a new era of massive box office hits known as “The Disney Renaissance.”

This exciting, musical movie has captivated the attention and imagination of young girls everywhere for the past three decades.

“The Little Mermaid” follows Ariel, an adventurous and rebellious young mermaid princess who trades her voice to the evil sea witch Ursula for the opportunity to become human and find her true love, Eric.

Although the movie ends with a “happily ever after,” as any children’s movie would, the true story of “The Little Mermaid” is much darker and more gruesome than anyone could have imagined.

The original fairytale, written in 1837 by Hans Christian Andersen (you know, that horrifying kid’s author that left more kids screaming and crying rather than smiling and laughing?).

In the original version, much like the movie, Ariel saves the prince’s life from a tragic boating accident, and obviously, falls deeply in love with him at first sight. However, there is just one tiny problem: she is a mermaid and he is a human.

In order to solve this dilemma, Ariel goes to meet with the sea witch. It is said that the home was surrounded by creatures called “polyps,” which are half-human, half-plant. This does not sound too bad, until you realize that these creatures tend to make a habit of trying to reach out, grab, and strangle any mermaid that passes by.

As if this is not bad enough, as Ariel casually makes her way to her home, Andersen writes that “the path to the home of the sea witch is littered in bodies of mermaids who were strangled by them.”

But what’s more? The house is also made of human bones, because the murderous plant-humans and littered bodies were not enough to terrify any door-to-door salespeople.

After somehow surviving the terrifying ordeal of just making it to the front door, Ariel makes a deal with the sea witch just as she does in the movie, with just one, tiny little difference.

With every step that Ariel takes, it will feel as though she is walking on sharp knives, making any time that she has on land excruciatingly painful and torturous. Fun, right?

But, no, no, no, that is not all. In the movie, Ursula gives Ariel a time-limit of three days to get the prince to fall in love with her, and if she does not meet the expectations, she will lose her voice forever.

However, in the traumatic fairytale, if the prince falls in love with someone else other than Ariel, she has to give up her life, having only 24 hours to live. Jeez… pretty deep. But death cannot even be seen as a peaceful escape from the horrifying world this fairy tale takes place in. Why? Because apparently, mermaids have NO souls.

Yep. No souls. Apparently, according to Andersen, creatures like mermaids can only gain a soul if a human being falls in love with them. So obviously, Ariel, with all the odds against her, is desperate to make the prince fall in love with her so she can enjoy life and the afterlife with him.

But surprise, surprise, the prince does not fall in love with her. He instead falls in love with the woman who discovered him on the beach after Ariel had saved his life. Time is up for the little mermaid. She spent her entire 24 hours focused on trying to get him to fall in love with her, and it is futile to try and get anyone else to love her.

While the outcome of the story already looks bad enough, it takes an even more horrible turn for the worst. Ariel’s sisters, discovering that she is in grave danger, all go to the sea witch in an attempt to save her life. After meeting with her, they trade their hair for a magical dagger.

The dagger, as it turns out, is supposed to be used to kill the prince. Yes, literally kill this poor unsuspecting prince who has no idea that mythological mermaids have made a deal to murder him with a terrifying sea witch.

If Ariel kills the prince with the dagger, she will not die at the end of her 24-hour deadline. It is said that as soon as the prince’s blood touches her human legs, they will once again become fins, and she will return to the ocean as a mermaid once more, putting the whole ordeal behind her.

However, Ariel makes the decision to not murder the prince and becomes a spirit of the air. No, it never explains how she just becomes a spirit of the air, did her body just dissolve into nothing?, but that is what ends up happening anyway.

When all is said and done, it is blatantly obvious as to why Disney decided to change a few details in their movie. What is NOT obvious though, is why they would ever want to make this story into a movie in the first place.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Reagan Young
Reagan Young, Staff Writer
Reagan Young is a first-year staffer on The Voice. Outside of the newspaper, Reagan loves to perform with her marching band, theater friends, and have movie nights with her parents! She also loves to play with her dogs, eat amazing food, and journal in her free time.

Comments (0)

All The Voice Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *