The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (also known by the working title, The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning) is a 2008 American animated direct-to-video fantasy film produced by DisneyToon Studios, With the animation production being done by Toon City Animation and a prequel to Disney's 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid and the third and final installment in The Little Mermaid trilogy, as well as the final direct-to-video follow-up after John Lasseter took over as chairman for the Disney Animation Division. It is also the first in the chronology of the story running through the series. Directed by Peggy Holmes, the film's story is set before the events of the original film, when Ariel is still young, and where all music has been banned from the underwater kingdom of Atlantica by King Triton after being heartbroken at his wife's death, and Ariel attempts to challenge this law. Jodi Benson and Samuel E. Wright (in his final film role before his death in 2021) reprise their roles as Ariel and Sebastian respectively, while Sally Field voices the film's new villainess, Marina Del Rey. Jim Cummings takes over the role as King Triton, replacing Kenneth Mars, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The film was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on August 26, 2008. The film received negative reviews with criticism aimed at the script and the music score, but the animation quality and voice performances were praised and the film was deemed an improvement over its predecessor, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.
|The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning|
|Directed by||Peggy Holmes|
|Produced by||Kendra Halland|
|Edited by||John Royer|
|Music by||James Dooley|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment|
King Triton and his wife, Queen Athena, rule over the underwater kingdom of Atlantica, filled with music and laughter. They have seven young daughters: Attina, Alana, Adella, Aquata, Arista, Andrina and the youngest of whom is Ariel. One day, while the merpeople relax in a lagoon above water, Triton gives Athena a music box. However, a pirate ship approaches with the intention of killing the merfolk. Everyone escapes except Athena, who is killed when she tries to recover the music box. Triton becomes devastated by his wife's death and throws the music box away, and music is permanently banned from Atlantica.
Ten years later, Ariel and her sisters live under a strict routine maintained by their governess, Marina Del Rey and her assistant, Benjamin. Marina hates being the girls' governess and longs to be Triton's attaché, a job currently filled by Sebastian the crab. Ariel is frustrated by their current lifestyle, which brings her into arguments with her father. One day, Ariel encounters Flounder, a young tropical fish whom she later follows to an underground music club. She is overjoyed by the presence of music, and is shocked when she sees Sebastian performing there. When her presence is revealed, the entire band stops playing and hides, believing Ariel will tell her father about them. Ariel sings a song explaining her love of music and the remembrance of her mother, and she joins the club with an oath.
Ariel returns to the palace and her sisters confront her over her disappearance, she explains where she was and the following night the girls go to the club to have fun, Marina finds them and she later reports their activities to Triton, who destroys the club with his trident. Sebastian, Flounder and the band are sent to prison, while Marina gets the job she wants. The girls are confined to the palace as punishment for having music in Triton’s kingdom and Ariel says that Triton would not have hated music if her mother were still alive. She swims to the bedroom, with her sisters following, and nobody is happy except Marina. That night, Ariel frees her friends and leaves Atlantica. Sebastian leads them to a deserted place far away from the palace where Ariel finds Athena's music box, as Sebastian hoped. In the kingdom, Marina happily talks to Triton about her new job, but Attina informs Triton that Ariel is not in Atlantica. Triton orders his guards to find Ariel, which angers Marina. In her lair, Marina tells Benjamin that she releases her electric eels from the dungeon. Marina is about to finish the job to have Sebastian killed and Ariel eliminated from the palace. Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian decide to return to Atlantica to bring the music box to Triton, hoping that it will change his mind, as he has not remembered how to be happy after Athena’s death.
Before Ariel and her friends return to Atlantica on the way back, Marina and her eels confront them. Before music is restored back into Atlantica, the final battle begins when Marina begins permanently banning Ariel from Atlantica. Marina wants to stop them so she will retain her position of power, and a struggle ensues. Flounder and Ariel are rescued from Marina's electric eels by the band. While Triton arrives in time seeing that Ariel has helped the band defeat the eels by having them tangle themselves, Marina barrels towards Sebastian and tries to kill him, but Ariel blocks her way, getting hit in the process, and falls apparently dead. Triton witnesses this and blames himself. He sings the lyrics of "Athena's Song", and Ariel revives. Triton apologizes to Ariel for not listening to her and sends her home to the palace while his guards place Marina under arrest. On the next day, thanks to Ariel, Triton restores music to Atlantica and appoints Sebastian as Atlantica's first official court composer, much to everyone's delight. Everyone, including Ariel and her sisters and their friends Flounder and Sebastian, rejoices while Marina winds up in prison.
- Jodi Benson as Ariel
- Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian (last film role before his death in 2021)
- Jim Cummings as King Triton
- Sally Field as Marina Del Rey
- Parker Goris as Flounder
- Kari Wahlgren as Attina
- Tara Strong as Adella and Andrina
- Jennifer Hale as Alana
- Grey DeLisle as Aquata and Arista
- Jeff Bennett as Benjamin, Swordfish Guards
- Lorelei Hill Butters as Queen Athena (speaking)
- Rob Paulsen as Ink Spot, Swifty
- Jim Cummings as Shelbow
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Cheeks, Ray-Ray
The film's working title was The Little Mermaid III, and it was originally scheduled for a mid-2007 release. When John Lasseter took over Disney Animation, more resources were spent on completing Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, and attention only returned to this film in July 2006 after the wrap up of Cinderella III.
A teaser trailer and musical preview of the film (an alternate version of "Jump in the Line") were attached to the Platinum Edition DVD of The Little Mermaid, which was released in October 2006. At the time, the working title The Little Mermaid III was still being used.
The score to the film was composed by James Dooley, who recorded the score with a 72-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony, as well as a big band, at the Sony Scoring Stage. The film features new songs written by Jeanine Tesori, along with covers of previously recorded calypso songs that were arranged by Dooley. No soundtrack has been released yet for the film.
All tracks are written by Jeanine Tesori.
|1.||"Athena's Song (Endless Sky)"||Andrea Robinson|
|2.||"Just One Mistake"||Sally Field|
|3.||"Jump in the Line"||Samuel E. Wright & Chorus|
|4.||"Jump in the Line (Reprise)"||Jodi Benson, Parker Goris, Samuel E. Wright & Chorus|
|5.||"I Remember"||Jodi Benson|
|6.||"Man Smart (Woman Smarter)"|
|7.||"Just One Mistake (Reprise)"||Sally Field|
|8.||"I Will Sing"||Jeannette Bayardelle|
The film was released on Region 1 DVD in the United States on August 26, 2008, and on Region 2 DVD in the United Kingdom and Europe on September 22, 2008. The DVD contains special features including deleted scenes, a production featurette hosted by the director, games and activities, and a featurette hosted by Sierra Boggess (who played Ariel on Broadway) about the Broadway musical.
On December 16, 2008, the film was released in a "The Little Mermaid Trilogy" boxed set that includes The Little Mermaid (Platinum Edition) and The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. On November 19, 2013, it was released on Blu-ray as a 2-movie collection alongside the sequel.
In 2019, the film was released on Disney+.
The DVD became the top-selling DVD for the week ending August 31, selling 980,237 copies.
On the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, 33% of 6 critic reviews are positive. The new villain, Marina Del Rey, was criticized as a poor follow-up to Ursula. The animation quality of the film has been praised as being "impressive" for a direct-to-video and comparable to that of the original film. A mildly negative review has described that in the film "goofiness often gets buried too often underneath a blah story that's much too run-of-the-mill to allow the emotional oomph of the characters' plights to truly impact". The music has also been criticized as being unmemorable, with one review stating that "to label this a musical would be false advertising".
Censorship in the United KingdomEdit
In the United Kingdom, the word "spastic" was cut from an interactive game in the extra features of the DVD and Blu-Ray releases by the BBFC to achieve a "U" rating. An uncut version was available rated "12".
The word appears uncensored in all versions of the full-length feature.
- "The Little Mermaid Ariel's Beginning (2008)".
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- Glennon, Christopher (1 September 2008). ""The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning": How To Keep Fish Fresh". Anime Superhero News. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
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- "MERMAID DISCOVERY VANITY GAME | British Board of Film Classification". www.bbfc.co.uk. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
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