It’s almost impossible to comprehend that it’s been over thirty years since the initial, theatrical release of The Little Mermaid, a film that has forever changed animation and The Walt Disney Company as a collective whole. To celebrate the release of the film, Walt Disney Home Entertainment is re-releasing the film as part of the Walt Disney Signature Collection, a series created to celebrate the very best and most memorable achievements in Disney animation. Despite a landmark anniversary in store, and the opportunity to provide a truly spectacular series celebrating Walt Disney and his legacy, the latest installment of the Walt Disney Signature Collection does little to celebrate the film and offer another worthy release of the movie if you had already purchased The Little Mermaid before.
It’s always a delight to watch The Little Mermaid, a cinematic achievement worthy of the legacy that cemented itself among Disney’s greatest on-screen achievements. The Blu-Ray transfer of the film looks as gorgeous as always, and re-experiencing this film is the perfect way to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of this cinematic classic that changed Disney and animation forever.
Sadly, like the other previous installments of the Signature Collection, there is, unfortunately, little to gain from this release if you already purchased the movie on its previous releases, including the Diamond Edition in 2013. The digital exclusive version of this film on Movies Anywhere offers over three hours of classic content, but there are very few notable features to be found as part of this latest release. Below, we’ll break down the five new bonus features you’ll find on this Blu-Ray.
- Audio Commentary: View the film with an audio commentary from directors John Musker and Ron Clements, providing insight into the creation of the film.
- Sing-Along Mode: Watch the film with a sing-along feature, providing on-screen lyrics throughout the musical portions!
Alan Menken and the Leading Ladies (15:45)- Songwriter and Disney Legend Alan Menken sits down with five remarkable Disney legends and voice actors with their own respective legacies in Disney animation history, including Jodie Benson (Ariel), Paige O’Hara (Belle) Judy Kuhn (Pocahontas) Lillias White (Calliope the Muse, Hercules) and Donna Murphy (Mother Gothel, Tangled). Here, these Disney actresses, along with Menken, who is appropriately seated at a piano to provide some wonderful musical moments, discuss how their careers have been forever changed since their films and the influence that The Little Mermaid has had upon their own roles. It’s both a wonderful retrospective and a delightful conversation that fans will be excited to see.
Stories from Walt’s Office: Gadgets and Gizmos (6:40)- This series, hosted by Becky Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives, and archivist Ed Ovalle, is one of the most interesting and rewarding portions of the Walt Disney Signature Collection, and the one element of these releases that we wish there were more of. This series offers some brilliant insight into Walt’s legacy and the history that continues to live on at the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, even in the smallest details. In a Blu-Ray series that seems to lack in new and informative features, we hope more installments will follow in this same vein.
What I Want From You…Is Your Voice (5:47)- This feature includes rare VHS footage of the voice actors recording their dialogue for the film. It’s neat to see this feature uncovered and included on the release, and we wish there was more archival footage to be shared along with this as well.
#TreasuresUntold (5:40)- As these releases seem to typically include at least one feature from a Disney Channel synergy related product, this one includes a feature from the brand new Disney TV show, Coop and Cami Ask the World. Actors Ruby Rose Turner and Olivia Sanabi share some fun and interesting facts about The Little Mermaid.
DCappella ‘Part of Your World’ Music Video (3:00)- We’ve covered DCapella on the site before and while this is a great bonus feature, its not much to add to the release, in what could have been a great YouTube video on its own.
Classic Bonus Features: Everything else on this release once existed in a previous release, including a long-unseen lecture given by the late Howard Ashman at Walt Disney Animation sometime around the production of the film, and a great bonus feature about the live-action reference used to produce the film. There are over three hours of fantastic material to be found, but of course, if you already own The Little Mermaid from the Diamond Edition release, you already have access to these wonderful features.
Overall, this latest release of The Little Mermaid does little to constitute an absolute must-purchase product for those who haven’t owned the film before. As diehard fans of this Disney classic, we certainly wish there were more informative features from the studio archives or production team on the process behind this movie, the legacy of the film in those thirty years, and more stories about the relation to Walt Disney and his own idea for a ‘Little Mermaid’ film during his lifetime. Owning The Little Mermaid on home media is always a good idea, but for those diehard Disney fans looking to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary, it may just be easier to dust off a previous Blu-Ray copy to do so.
The Little Mermaid: The Walt Disney Signature Collection is now available to purchase online