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The Pitfalls of Live-Action Remakes: A Case Study of “The Little Mermaid”

In the realm of entertainment, there is a growing trend of live-action remakes of beloved animated classics. This trend, spearheaded by companies like Disney, is often met with mixed reactions.

While some appreciate the nostalgia and modern twists, others criticize the lack of originality and the potential dilution of the original’s charm. A prime example of this controversy is the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid,” a film that has stirred up a sea of debates, much like the tumultuous waves in Ariel’s oceanic home.

The Issue of Length

One of the first issues that arise with live-action remakes is the length of the film. The original animated “The Little Mermaid” was a concise 83 minutes, packing a compelling narrative without feeling rushed. This brevity is reminiscent of the succinct storytelling found in many classic fairy tales, where every word and scene holds significance.

However, the live-action remake extends to a hefty 135 minutes, almost an hour longer than the original. This extension does not necessarily translate to more content or depth. Instead, it often results in slower pacing, longer conversations, and bloated action scenes.

This is akin to a long-winded novel where the plot gets lost in excessive descriptions and unnecessary subplots.

The result is a sense of inertia that can be frustrating for the audience, much like a ship caught in the doldrums.

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The Pitfalls of Live-Action Remakes: A Case Study of "The Little Mermaid" 5

Visuals and CGI

The second issue pertains to the visuals and the use of CGI. The original animated film was known for its vibrant and colorful underwater world, a visual feast that brought to life the enchanting marine universe. This is reminiscent of the vivid illustrations in children’s books that captivate the young readers’ imagination.

However, the live-action remake replaces this with a dark, dreary, and poorly rendered environment. The CGI, particularly for the mermaids and animal characters, lacks the fluidity and grace of the animated film, resulting in an unnatural and jerky motion.

This downgrade in visual quality can be jarring for the audience, especially considering the high production cost. It’s like expecting a Picasso but receiving a poorly executed paint-by-numbers piece instead.

Performances and Characterization

The performances and characterization in the live-action remake also leave much to be desired. While the musical numbers are executed flawlessly, the acting skills of the cast are questionable.

The character of Prince Eric, for instance, is portrayed as soft, meek, and easily dominated, a high contrast to the charismatic and self-confident character in the original. This shift in characterization may be an attempt to cater to modern sensibilities, but it risks alienating the audience who loved the original characters.

It’s akin to replacing James Bond’s suave and daring persona with a timid and passive character.

Moreover, the film’s setting and cultural representation seem to be at odds of different elements, creating a confusing and unrealistic world. This lack of attention to detail and authenticity can be distracting for the audience, much like a poorly researched historical novel that mixes up different time periods and cultures.

The Role of Women and Authenticity

The live-action remake also takes a different approach to the role of women. In the original film, Prince Eric plays a crucial role in the climax, saving Ariel’s life. However, in the remake, Ariel takes control and saves the day, despite having no experience or understanding of sailing ships.

This change seems forced and unrealistic, undermining the concept of romance and mutual support that was present in the original. It’s like rewriting “Romeo and Juliet” with Juliet single-handedly resolving the family feud, leaving Romeo as a mere bystander.

The representation of women in live-action remakes of beloved animated classics is an important aspect to consider. In an era where the push for strong female characters and empowering narratives has taken center stage, it is necessary to strike a balance between modern ideals and the authenticity of the original story.

When examining the role of women in the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid,” one can observe a lot of problematic implications. In the original animated film, Ariel’s journey from an innocent and curious mermaid to a self-assured young woman played out through her desire to become human and explore the world beyond the sea.

The character of Prince Eric played a significant role in the climax, saving Ariel’s life. This dynamic highlighted the idea of romance and mutual support, showcasing a balance between the male and female leads.

The movie also played with a lot of feminist ideals – Ariel literally loses her voice, gives that up for a man and then has the revelation that she doesn’t want to do that and that she’s not having a voice is actually a negative aspect in her interaction with Eric.

There is a lot of deep understanding around how women feel and how relationships can be improved by communication. However, in the live-action remake, there seems to be a shift in the dynamics of this relationship.

Ariel takes more control and agency, ultimately saving the day, despite having no experience or understanding of sailing ships.

While the intent to portray strong, independent women is Disney’s pet project for some time, this alteration in the story is straying too far from the original narrative.

It did undermine the concept of romance and mutual support that was present in the original, leaving Prince Eric as a mere bystander and Ariel as a foolish Teenager – both did annihilate the audience.

Balancing empowerment and authenticity is crucial when considering the role of women in movies. The trap here is that other characters and situations have to be pushed down to show the female protagonist as strong.

This is not only one-dimensional, it also shows a lot of our society and especially relationships as a zero-sum game with no entertainment factor. Nobody want’s to see heroes who push other people down – that’s for villains.

In the case of “The Little Mermaid,” a more balanced approach could involve showcasing Ariel’s agency and determination while still allowing Prince Eric to play an essential role in the resolution of the conflict. This would preserve the original dynamic while acknowledging the strong female character.

It is crucial to present characters who are multidimensional, with strengths and weaknesses, as this allows for relatability and realistic character development.

The traditional approach would have worked better: Ariel helps Eric to overcome hist shortcomings, and Eric helps Ariel in the final resolution. But that pattern, that is inspired by the real world, is not wanted at Disney because they believe this would be a detriment for the female character.

The main Problem of many films seems to be that it is about recreating a movie with certain cultural criteria, not being a storyteller.

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The Pitfalls of Live-Action Remakes: A Case Study of "The Little Mermaid" 6

The Role of Culture in Live-Action Remakes

Culture plays a significant role in the success or failure of live-action remakes of beloved animated classics. When approaching the task of remaking a film, it is crucial to consider the cultural nuances and elements that made the original so beloved in the first place.

This consideration becomes even more important in cases where the original film has become a cultural touchstone, as is the case with “The Little Mermaid.” Cultural authenticity is an essential aspect of storytelling. It allows the audience to connect with the characters, setting, and overall narrative on a deeper level.

In the original animated film, “The Little Mermaid,” the story and characters were firmly rooted in a specific culture – a European fairy tale setting. From the architecture to the costumes, everything oozed the charm and mystique of old-world Europe.

This cultural authenticity allowed the audience to immerse themselves fully in the world of Ariel and her underwater adventures – just as it did with Chinese culture in Mulan or Irish culture in Brave.

However, the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” seems to have overlooked this crucial element. The film’s setting and cultural representation appear to be of different elements, creating a confusing and unrealistic world.

This lack of attention to detail and authenticity can be distracting for the audience, much like a poorly researched historical novel that mixes up different time periods and cultures. By paying careful attention to cultural elements, filmmakers can create a more immersive and engaging experience for the audience.

This attention to detail extends beyond just the visual aesthetics; it includes the language, mannerisms, and cultural references used throughout the film. When these elements are thoughtfully incorporated, they help to create a sense of authenticity and allow the audience to feel a deeper connection to the story and characters.

Culture plays a crucial role in the success of live-action remakes. The cultural authenticity of the original film is often what resonated with audiences, and straying too far from this can lead to a loss of charm and connection.

When approaching a remake, it is vital to carefully consider and respect the cultural elements that made the original so beloved. By doing so, filmmakers can create a more immersive and enjoyable experience for the audience while capturing the magic of the animated classic.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” serves as a case study of the pitfalls of such remakes.

While the intention to modernize and bring a fresh perspective to beloved classics can be argued for, it’s crucial to maintain the charm, authenticity, and essence of the original. Otherwise, the result is a film that, despite its high production cost and star-studded cast, fails to capture the magic of the original and leaves the audience longing for the charm of the animated classic.

It’s a reminder that in the world of storytelling, newer isn’t always better, and sometimes, the original masterpiece is best left untouched.

Author
Michael Klein
Culture-Marketing Expert I bring together Culture & Marketing to Explain why things work.

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