Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Radical Little Mermaid

Thinking of the movie Impromptu made me think of Disney's The Little Mermaid. What they have in common are heroines driven by passionate desire for a man. Which is a very rare plot for a movie - most female leads are pretty passive.

You can see the Little Mermaid fall in love with Prince Eric in this clip here.

Another thing that's so cool about the Little Mermaid is her intellectual curiosity. Disney's movie presents her as a kind of mermaid anthropologist. The reason she gets close enough to Eric to fall in love with him is because she studies humans and collects human artifacts that end up at the bottom of the ocean.

So all in all, Ariel the Little Mermaid is really radical for a major studio cartoon. Well, having a female character is rare enough in cartoons. So much so that in the movies Antz and Bee Movie, the workers, which are female in nature, are almost all male in the movies.

Although Disney has featured leading females in quite a few movies - often based on fairy tales - they are usually, as in the case of say, Snow White, or Cinderella, passive and the objects of desire.

Not only does Ariel desire Eric, she saves his life. That's one of the reasons why I like the folk song Tam Lin so much - enough to adapt it into a play. And Janet, the heroine of TAM LIN, is also driven by desire throughout the story. And so is Jane Eyre.

Here we see the Little Mermaid working her moves on Eric during the charming song "Kiss the Girl"

Lusting after guys and rescuing them - you can't go wrong with that plot line, in my opinion.