A bold mer-girl, with the looks of Jessica Rabbit’s innocent younger sister, chases love against the odds before living happily ever after with her prince charming. This is the tale of The Little Mermaid, as told through the rose-tinted animation of Disney.
But while the Disney version touches on Christian Andersen’s themes of body image, teen rebellion and the quest for love, what it neglects to mention is that the sacrifices Ariel made – her family, her identity, her mortality – in pursuit of her prince charming, were in vain. She ultimately gives penance by sparing the prince’s life for her own, disseminating into foam and onto veritable purgatory.
There are some dark elements in the Disney version – notable mention going to conniving and terrifying sea witch Ursula, her slithering water snakes Flotsam and Jetsam and Chef Louis, who attempts to cook up Ariel’s loyal advisor, Sebastian the crab, as he also prepares a stuffed flounder.
Les poissons, les poissons
Hee hee hee, haw haw haw
With a cleaver I hack them in two
I pull out what’s inside
And I serve it up fried
‘Cuz I love little fishes, don’t you?
-Chef Louis, Disney’s The Little Mermaid
Currently in the works is a new live-action version of the story, with Sofia Coppola taking the seahorse carriage reins as directo
Coppola (The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, The Bling Ring) is known for her intimate, melancholic directing style, with films that follow female protagonists through their tales of transition. Lush, dreamlike landscapes, soft focus layers, opulent costumes and meticulously curated soundtracks make for ethereal and visually beautiful films. Just the candidate to recount this sombre mermaid fable.
Add to this a script penned by Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands, The Corpse Bride) and an Ariel rumoured to be played by Emma Watson, and there’s every reason to cook up a seafood banquet to celebrate.
ON THE MENU
Scallops with Purple Cauliflower Puree, Whole Baked Flounder with Seaweed Salad
While it may seem a little grim to be serving up Ariel’s aquatic mates, Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale of female adolescence is one of the Dutch story teller’s more morbid works, so it’s only fitting.
‘The Little Mermaid, longing for the prince and an eternal soul, eventually visits the Sea Witch, who sells her a potion that gives her legs, in exchange for her tongue (as the Little Mermaid has the most intoxicating voice in the world). Drinking the potion will make her feel as if a sword is being passed through her, yet when she recovers she will have two beautiful legs, and will be able to dance like no human has ever danced before. However, it will constantly feel like she is walking on sharp swords, and her feet will bleed most terribly. In addition, she will only get a soul if the prince loves her and marries her, for then a part of his soul will flow into her. Otherwise, at dawn on the first day after he marries another woman, the Little Mermaid will die brokenhearted and disintegrate into sea foam.’