First, the movie made waves because it was directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Mary Poppins Returns), who chose R&B singer Halle Bailey as Ariel and made her the first Black Ariel in the world. In the months that followed, more changes to the classic were shown. The lyrics to popular songs like “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and “Kiss the Girl” were changed to represent a more modern Disney princess who wasn’t so focused on finding a man and had more control over her life.
Jodi Benson, who played Ariel in the first version of The Little Mermaid in 1989, agrees with these changes. “We’re thinking about starting our voice-over sessions in 1986 [for the original film]. “It’s 2023, so we have to grow, learn, and be aware of our surroundings,” she told EW in an interview before the launch of the new Little Mermaid this Friday.
Benson’s movie The Little Mermaid was an important moment in the history of movies. Marshall worked with Benson on the stage version of Chess in the 1990s. He thinks that the movie was the start of a new wave of movie musicals. But it has also been criticized over time. Some people have come to think that the story is about a young woman who gives up her voice and her whole life to follow a guy.
Marshall, producer John DeLuca, and screenwriter David Magee were well aware of these criticisms, so they made some changes to their version of The Little Mermaid, which was based on both the animated classic and the Hans Christian Andersen fairy story.
Ariel, played by Bailey, and Prince Eric, played by Jonah Hauer-King, now have more in common. Even though their families want them to stay close to home, they both want to see what else is out there. Other changes include changing a line in “Kiss the Girl” to talk about consent and making small cuts to “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” Ursula, who is played by Melissa McCarthy, no longer sings about how people think “a girl who gossips is a bore.”
Benson says, “We have to be aware of how we’ve changed as people and what’s important now and what maybe isn’t as important.” “Everything changes. We have to deal with that. I think Rob and John did a great job of doing that while still honoring and paying respect to our original film. But you have to be able to grow.
It is very important to stay current with where we are and what is going on around us. We need to know. So the changes and fine-tuning they did were necessary, but they did it in a beautiful way, and I’m very, very happy with it.”
Benson is also blown away by Bailey’s act as a new Ariel. The Disney legend says she first talked to the rising star through a contact who worked for one of the film’s executive producers. She has also met with Bailey and her mother several times.
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She says, “It’s been great to be able to just love on her and help her and her family.” “And to know that the staff, especially Rob and John, were taking great care of her. And to see how beautifully she has been able to catch Ariel and everything about her. I wanted her to know how proud I am of her and that I was there for her in any way I could. She did that. She has told this beautiful story, and I am just so happy for her.”