The mermaid princess Ariel dreams of the surface world shimmering above the ocean. The passing ships churn waves of curiosity in their wake, and she spends her days collecting the trinkets that wash overboard with Flounder. Too bad her father, King Triton, forbids her to explore the surface, preferring she enchant their underwater subjects with her miraculous singing voice. Out of all the king’s daughters, Ariel’s voice is the most majestic, a fact that riles the sea witch Ursula.
When one of those passing ships catches fire, Ariel swims to the rescue, saving the charming Prince Eric from drowning. When he awakes, dreaming of the woman who saved him and not realising it was a mermaid, Ariels sees her opportunity to follow her dreams. The only problem are her fins; she can’t join Prince Eric above the ocean. Ursula offers a devil’s bargain that could solve all Ariel’s problems though, for a price.
Brimming with charming underwater characters, a headstrong princess and unforgettable musical numbers, The Little Mermaid is one of the most iconic movies of all time. Not only did it endear itself to audiences around the world, it helped usher in the Disney renaissance, an era of unparalleled critical and commercial success that led to Aladdin (1992), Beauty and the Beast (1991) and the The Lion King (1994).
The above concept sketch from legendary animator Glenn Keane demonstrates all of Ariel’s wide-eyed will and exuberance and serves as a prototype of a famous shot from the iconic song “Part of Your World”.
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In ACMI's collection
Animation → Animated films - United States
Childrens Films → Children 6-12
Childrens Films → Children's films - United States
Feature films → Feature films - United States
Literature → Andersen, H. C. (Hans Christian), 1805-1875
Literature → Children's literature - Film and video adaptations
Literature → Literature
Graphite on paper
16mm film; Access Print (Section 1)