“Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat?” Those well-known lyrics could be said of Disney’s new “The Little Mermaid” Diamond Edition Blu-Ray DVD. “Neat” is the digitally restored video, full of deep, rich vibrant colors brought to life in stunning detail. Its brilliant high-definition sound and three hours of extras are enough to keep fans of all ages entertained.
I jumped into watching the extras first, since I’d seen the film countless times. However, this didn’t sit very well with my three-year-old daughter. But being very patient for her age and being as enthralled as I was at seeing a beloved Disney character at near life-size for the first time, thanks to our HD projector, she was willing to wait.
When you click to play the movie in the root menu, Ariel dives into the ocean. This fun, unexpected animation definitely got the attention of my daughter.
We started with “@Disney Animation”, a documentary about the Disney animators, where they work and the process behind the company’s modern-day animated features. What I thought was interesting was what the artists said impacted them the most about Mermaid. One artist said “The Little Mermaid” is the Disney movie that inspired her the most to become an artist. You get to see where the artists work and how they use current technology to carry on Walt’s legacy. I found the process fascinating, and think this feature would be inspiring for young artists hoping to make animation his or her career. The colorful and open artist workspaces, which they’re free to customize and use as they see fit, makes working at Disney seem like a dream for just about anyone.
After that, we checked out the music video “Part of Your World” by Carly Rae Jepson, which I wasn’t expecting to find particularly entertaining, but thought my daughter just might. In reality, this feature is aimed at the junior high-aged girls, which, despite being Mermaid’s original audience, fell flat. Even with its twist ending, this video left my little one and I non-plussed. Like I said, there are features on this disc for everyone.
We then checked out the feature about Herman the Merman, a character who didn’t make it into the movie due to time constraints.
Herman, as you may have guessed from the name, is a hapless, nerdy looking merman who wants better looks, and goes to Ursula for help. I mean, what could go wrong? She grants him his wish, but true to her character, stacks the odds in her favor. And without King Triton to bail him out, things don’t end too well for Herman. This feature provides further character development of Ursula as being conniving, sinister and bent on owning the “poor and unfortunate souls.” It would make an interesting addition to a possible extended full-length feature.
At this point, my daughter was ready to move on to the movie.
Right from the start of the movie, I noticed a huge difference between this version and the other version we own, which is on VHS. Digitally enhanced using state-of-the-art technology, each scene seemed to pop immensely over our decade-plus-old SD version. The colors were intense, rich and clear. This new version had me eagerly looking forward to each new scene and wondering how each one would look with the new treatment, which was a feast for the eyes.
I highly recommend this Blu-Ray version to any Disney fan who wants to see “The Little Mermaid” the way it should be: with stunning visuals and equally impressive high-definition audio.
Aside from the classic bonus features, here’s a list of the other features you’ll get with this release:
- Under The Scene: The Art of Live-Action Reference – The animators went back to Walt Disney’s rotoscoping roots when making the film. You get to see live actors acting out key scenes in the movie, which is fascinating for animation buffs. It’s interesting to see which classic scenes were scripted and which others were improvised.
- Howard’s Lecture – A lyricist for “The Little Mermaid”, Howard Ashman, gave a “lunchtime lecture” to the film’s animators during production, during which he talks about modern musicals.
- Part of Her World: Jodi Benson’s Voyage to New Fantasyland – Benson, who played the live version of Ariel, talks about how the part changed her life. You see her taking her own kids, who are young teens, to the New Fantasyland at Disney World.
- Crab-E-Oke Sing-Along – You can sing along to “Part of Your World”, “Under the Sea”, “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, “Les Poissons”, and “Kiss the Girl”. Some neat animation here.