Why Live-Action Little Mermaid Cuts 1 Specific Polyps Element From Animated Movie

Jun 1, 2023

Warning: The article contains SPOILERS from live-action The Little Mermaid remake.The live-action The Little Mermaid remake cuts one polyps element from the original animated movie, but there’s a good reason. The live-action adaptation of 1989’s The Little Mermaid reintroduces Ariel’s undersea world with its talking fish, magic, and breathtaking locations. It also brings King Triton back to the limelight, and he enjoys a much more dignified conclusion that doesn’t involve turning into a polyp. Instead, Triton is turned to dust in the remake’s climax, but the movie doesn’t feature any scene showing humans turning into polyps (and vice-versa) like in the animated version.

In an interview with, The Little Mermaid director Rob Marshall explained why the polyps transformation scenes were cut from the live-action film. He argues the polyps transformation wouldn’t have worked for live-action. Check out his quote below:

“Yeah, it was interesting. It was really, I know this sounds crazy, but it was about where they were. You know, if I wanted to go back to the Hans Christian Andersen [fairy tale], where they’re really these creatures who are outside of her lair … it just felt like one thing too much for them to be actual people … it was the idea that these plants would then turn into people felt almost like an animation idea, a concept … When you watch Triton in the original turn into one of them, it’s comical.”
“In a live-action, there’s that line, you know, there are things that work in animation. There are just things that just don’t work in live-action… I felt like this feels like one step too far, that it will cross that line into something that seems silly.”

How The Live-Action Little Mermaid Differs From The Original

The fate of King Triton and the human-to-polyps transformation are not the only massive change that The Little Mermaid brings to the classic film. Ariel’s family tree also faces a serious shake-up that changes Ursula’s motivations, with the villain revealed to be the sister of King Triton. She was banished from the undersea kingdom and now seeks vengeance and her brother’s crown. Given that Ursula originally is merely a power-hungry witch, offering new motivations helps to make her more comprehensible and three-dimensional.

The Little Mermaid also changes the lyrics to some of the classic songs. Given that the original story is somewhat shaky in a modern context due to Ariel’s overdependence on Prince Eric in the animated version, the live-action The Little Mermaid features a few divisive lyric changes. “Kiss the Girl”, specifically, has been adapted to include more explicit consent on Ariel’s part, which helps to make everyone involved much more sympathetic.

The live-action adaptation also features new songs from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, including “Wild Uncharted Waters,” “For the First Time,” and “The Scuttlebutt.” The film’s climax also helps to introduce a more active Ariel in the fight against Ursula and helps keep her in the spotlight of her own movie. The Little Mermaid features some major changes, but they work to create a greater whole and to help distinguish it from the classic movie without diminishing what came before.


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