The movie that ushered in the new golden era at Disney is now out as a super special Diamond Edition. Digitally re-mastered, this new release includes Blu-ray 3D, regular Blu-ray, regular DVD as well as digital copy. It’s packed with all sorts of extras, as you would expect from a major Disney DVD release. Many, like the Crab-E-OKE, make perfect kid’s play. However, serious Disney and animation fans will enjoy new commentary from co-directors Ron Clements and John Musker, as well as two true gems– a recording of Howard Ashman’s lunchtime “class” presented in the early stages of production to the animation department and an in-depth look at the elaborate reference footage filmed with actors Sheri Stoner and Joshua Finkel.
Listening to Ashman describe not only his thoughts on how and why he made various musical decision, but how he brought the fundamentals of musical theatre to the production, is truly extraordinary. His insights into his creative process as well as how and why he made certain creative decisions are not only enlightening but inspiring. John Musker himself gets choked up himself on camera at one point as he and Ron provide fascinating background and context on Howard’s work, work which we all know, won an Academy Award.
Equally as interesting is John and Ron walking us through the history of filmed reference at Disney, going all the way back to Snow White. A great clip of a test short the studio created to experiment with more life-like character movement provides ample evidence of how groundbreaking the new use of real actors and props for reference filming was to the world of animation. The test short looked like an old Silly Symphony cartoon. Additionally, footage shot during the making of The Little Mermaid, juxtaposed with the actual scenes derived from that footage, are really fun to watch. Seeing a young Glen Keane directing Shaner and Finkel, working with nothing but a few boxes and wooden crates is a real treat.
The Little Mermaid set the bar for the new age of animated musicals and still stands up today against not only the films that followed it, but all the films that preceded it. Pick up your copy today.
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