Posted on Thursday, July 8th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
Hans Christian Anderson‘s The Little Mermaid, first published in 1837, has been adapted into a great variety of media. The most famous is Disney’s animated musical of the same name, which helped kickstart the revitilization of Disney animation when it was released to great success in 1989.
So any new adaptation of The Little Mermaid is probably going to be seen as a remake of Disney’s movie, whether or not that is really the case. In fact that’s not the case for the new version being prepped by Working Title and Atonement director Joe Wright, who claims much greater inspiration from a theatre production of the tale.
Deadline says that Wright is developing the film with a script by Abi Morgan, and that the key inspiration, besides the original story, is a Little Angel Theatre Company production that used puppets. (That company was founded by Wright’s father.)
I wonder if Wright’s version will include a key aspect of the original story that has been left out of many adaptations. That is, in the Anderson telling, the mermaid of the title doesn’t just fall in love with a human prince and want to give up her merfolk nature in order to be with him. She also learns that, upon death, merfolk simply become part of the sea, while humans can go to heaven and live for eternity. She doesn’t just want humanity to be with the prince; she wants an eternal soul. That stuff didn’t quite make it into the Disney version.
[illustration by Edmund Dulac]