What girl DIDN'T grow up wanting to be a mermaid at some stage in her life? Looking at you, Ally, if you're reading this!
'The Little Mermaid' is one of the first Disney films that I remember seeing in the cinema. For years I was under the impression that I must have been at least 8 or so. But, no - I was 4! That's right - Disney's version of 'The Little Mermaid' was released in 1989!
Me: I KNOW!
Needless to say, my earliest memories of the story were purely those of a sassy Sebastian, Flounder the guppy, and THAT scene which always made my Dad cry; when King Triton gives Ariel her legs back so she and Eric can get married and she whispers 'I love you, Daddy' before sailing off into the sunset. I know, Dad. It was emotional stuff.
So, imagine my HORROR when I first encountered the TRUE story of Hans Christian Anderson's 'The Little Mermaid'. You know, the one where she DOESN'T win the love of her prince (he marries someone else) OR get to keep her legs (they felt like walking on razor blades 24/7 FYI) but disappears instead into a cloud of sea foam, ceasing to exist.
Thanks, Ursula, you sea b*tch.
You can view a 1975 Japanese animation of the original story here. But, be warned - it's v.sad.
(But also kiiiiiiiiinda funny when her name translates simply to 'Princess Mermaid.')
This original ending does not a fairy tale make and just goes to show how sinister our favourite stories were before Walt got his magical, sugar-coated hands on them.
The final line from the 1975 re-telling goes thusly:
"Eventually, The Little Mermaid's soul was allowed to return from heaven to the sea, where it had dissolved to foam with the coming of dawn's first light. From that time on, through her story, the story of her love and her courage, she has guided the wayward hearts of men and so she shall, forever."
For this reason my version of 'The Little Mermaid' does not include a sassy sidekick, a singing crustacean, or even a well-coiffured Prince unable to reciprocate her love.
It focuses purely on the Mermaid herself, who, in my imagination, is something of a magpie of the sea; scouring shipwrecks in search of lost treasures and jewels. Of course in this instance they are sparkling gems of Chanel and Christian Dior, her tail wrapped in Tiffany & Co pearls.
Glittering prints are available in my store here: www.birdyandme.bigcartel.com
More mermaid-spiration below: