Ariel (The Little Mermaid) - Development

Development

"I heard Part of Your World, Jodi Benson singing that, and it just captivated me. I have to do that. And I went and told those guys, 'I really wanna do Ariel.' And they said, 'Well, I don’t know. This is supposed to be a pretty girl. Can you do that?' I said, 'Look, I have to do Ariel. I mean, I can feel it in my heart.'"
— Glen Keane, Ariel's supervising animator

Ariel was based on the protagonist of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" but co-director and writer Ron Clements felt that the mermaid in the original story was too tragic and rewrote the character, resulting in Ariel.

Jodi Benson, who was predominantly a stage actress, was chosen to voice Ariel because the directors felt "it was really important to have the same person doing the singing and speaking voice". Clements stated that Benson's voice had a unique "sweetness" and "youthfulness". When recording the vocals for "Part of Your World", Benson asked that the lights in the studio be dimmed, to create the feeling of being deep under the sea. "Part of Your World", which was referred to by songwriter Howard Ashman as the "I Want" song, was originally going to be cut from the final film, owing to Jeffrey Katzenberg's belief that it slowed the story down, but Ashman and Keane fought to keep it in.

Ariel's original design was developed by animator Glen Keane, who stated in an animation lecture that her appearance was based on that of his wife. It was also based on actress Alyssa Milano, who was 16 at the time, and model Sherri Stoner, who provided live-action references for the animators during the development of the film. The movement of Ariel's hair underwater was based on footage of astronaut Sally Ride while she was in space.

A challenge in animating Ariel for the 1989 film was the color required to show Ariel in the changing environments, both under the sea and on land, for which the animators required thirty-two color models, not including costume changes. The blue-green color of Ariel's fin was a hue specially mixed by the Disney paint lab; the color was named "Ariel" after the character. The choice of red as Ariel's hair color was the subject of dispute between the filmmakers and studio executives who wanted the character to have blonde hair. It was noted that red hair contrasted better with Ariel's green tail and that red was easier to darken than yellow so it was ultimately kept.

In an interview, Jodi Benson stated that for Ariel's Beginning, the writers revised the script multiple times to make sure Ariel retained her relevance in a more modern context. Benson complained to them that they wrote Ariel out of character and suggested they bring her back to her roots.

Read more about this topic:  Ariel (The Little Mermaid)

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