The road that will get me each rattling time I watch the 1989 animated model of The Little Mermaid isn’t one of many well-known ones — a lyric from “A part of Your World,” Ariel’s defiant “However Daddy, I really like him,” and even one among Sebastian’s quippy asides. It comes towards the tip of the film, when Triton lastly realizes that Ariel can be happier on land, and makes use of his magical trident to offer her legs. Afterward, he turns to Sebastian and says, “I suppose there’s only one downside left — how a lot I’m going to overlook her.”
That second has extra affect than some other line within the film, as a result of it disrupts the standard “fortunately ever after” narrative. In contrast to different Disney fairy-tale endings, the tip of The Little Mermaid is deeply bittersweet. Real love saves the day, and there’s an enormous wedding ceremony. However not like Cinderella escaping from her abusive stepmother or Magnificence and the Beast’s Belle reuniting together with her father, Ariel leaves behind her loving household for a brand new life — and she will be able to by no means return to the way in which issues had been.
The brand new 2023 live-action remake of The Little Mermaid retains that line intact, however shifts the ending round it a bit in a method that overwrites the unique film’s sequel, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. However because it seems, that isn’t a nasty factor.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for the 2023 Little Mermaid, and also for Return to the Sea.]
Triton is a strict, overprotective father or mother, however like many dad and mom, he does what he does as a result of he believes he’s maintaining his daughter protected. In contrast to many dad and mom, nonetheless, he realizes the error of his methods and takes the chance to rectify them. He has to let his daughter go in an effort to give her an opportunity to be glad. However nonetheless, he’s unhappy! It’s transferring! It presents a risk that strict dads are able to progress and recognizing that what they need isn’t essentially what their daughters need!
The concept that Ariel has to completely break with Triton to realize her goals is emphasised once more within the direct-to-VHS sequel, the place she makes the tough selection to chop off all contact with the undersea world to guard her daughter from Ursula’s vengeful sister. Although The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea is without doubt one of the higher Disney direct-to-video sequels, that period isn’t essentially identified for good films. However there’s a very poignant scene on this one, the place a grown-up Ariel walks to the seashore and dips her ft within the water, trying as much as the sky and sighing that she misses her father.
Whereas screenwriter David Magee and director Rob Marshall protect many issues from the 1989 animated film of their live-action model — together with giving the “I’m going to overlook her” line to Javier Bardem as Triton, who delivers it with as a lot tenderness and disappointment because it deserves — they make a wise option to tweak the ending so it isn’t as painful. And within the course of, they shut the door on any potential adaptation of the direct-to-VHS sequel.
Ariel and Eric nonetheless get married within the 2023 film model, however their wedding ceremony is far more low-key. The essential factor is that they head off on a protracted sea journey collectively, indulging each of their needs for exploration, and hoping to increase diplomatic relations for Eric’s small island nation. As they’re on a rowboat, about to move out to their ship, Triton emerges from the water and appears gravely at Ariel and Eric. An increasing number of merpeople come out of the water, and Triton tells Ariel that they’ll all the time be right here for her.
It’s a small element, however it nonetheless adjustments the ending significantly. Ariel doesn’t have to decide on between worlds. She feels happier and extra snug within the human world, however part of her will all the time be a mermaid. This time, although, as an alternative of a goodbye, the ending feels extra like a brand new chapter for Ariel and her relationship with the underwater world. Marshall and Magee sprinkle some fantasy battle between merpeople and people into this model, with out ever actually digging into it or resolving it. However that battle makes an ending the place Ariel doesn’t have to decide on between worlds really feel much more resonant.
There’s nonetheless quite a bit to dive into (ha) in a possible sequel. (Doable sequels for these live-action remakes preserve getting introduced.) And it wouldn’t should concentrate on giving Ariel a child, or chopping her off from the mermaid world. Ariel and Eric’s relationship represents one thing new for each people and merpeople, and their seafaring quest will definitely take them to uncharted waters, each actually and figuratively. Return to the Sea may not occur in live-action type, however there may be quite a lot of ocean to discover on the market. This time, Ariel is aware of her father will all the time be there for her, now that he’s realized to let her go.