Tag Archives: Ariel

The Little Mermaid “Daughters of Triton” (1989)

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King Triton’s Entrance

The Little Mermaid is universally acknowledged to be the film that launched the Disney Renaissance (a period that lasted from 1989 until Disney’s Tarzan in 1999). The Academy Award winning score was composed by Alan Menken, who collaborated with lyricist Howard Ashman on the songs.

It’s a big day in the undersea kingdom of Atlantica. The court composer Sebastian (a Jamaican crab) is putting on a concert starring the daughters of King Triton, with tonight being the debut of the youngest, Princess Ariel. King Triton, benevolent ruler of the Seven Seas, makes a grand entrance into the crowded concert hall in a seashell chariot pulled by several dolphins, lighting up the chandelier with a burst from his magical trident.

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King Triton is most excited for this concert as he’s been looking forward to Ariel’s first performance. Sebastian insists that he is excited too (though he quietly mumbles that it would be helpful if the princess attended more rehearsals). Despite his grumblings, Sebastian takes the stage and the show begins with six of Triton’s children appearing out of clam shells singing (appropriately enough) “Daughters of Triton”:

The Little Mermaid ‘Daughters of Triton’ (1989)

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Oh, we are the daughters of Triton
Great father who loves us and named us well:
Aquata
Andrina
Arista
Attina
Adella
Alana
And then there is the youngest in her musical debut
A seventh little sister, we’re presenting her to you
To sing a song Sebastian wrote, her voice is like a bell
She’s our sister Ari…

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Whoops! The concert comes to a crashing halt as the final clam shell opens to reveal…no one! Ariel isn’t here! Her sisters gasp in shock, the audience is befuddled, Sebastian is mortified and King Triton is understandably upset, bellowing out “ARIEL!!!” very angry that his youngest daughter has seemingly skipped out on an important event. Where IS Ariel? Well, as it turns out, she’s been busy hunting for human artifacts with her best friend Flounder (even though she’s been told repeatedly to stay away from anything related to humans).

Originally this scene was going to play out differently. In an earlier storyboard, the scene was going to start with Sebastian going backstage to check on the sisters as they are warming up for their performance. He would then notice that Ariel isn’t there and grow frantic when Andrina mentions that no one has seen her in quite some time. The crab races off to tell King Triton the bad news, but a spotlight illuminates him before he can reach the king, so the crab resigns himself to the inevitable and begins the show. It was decided that the scene would play better if Ariel’s absence was a complete surprise for everyone.

Due to how the scene ends, this is a rare example of a Disney song that ends abruptly (another good example is “A Girl Worth Fighting For” from Mulan).

I always found the ending of this scene to be awkward as a kid, with the way the music comes to a sudden halt and how awkward everyone acts with the revelation that Ariel has no-showed the concert. Now that I’m older I can appreciate this scene better, as it starts a quasi-tradition of Disney princesses not being where they’re expected to be (for example, Pocahontas isn’t waiting to meet her father when he comes back from battle; Mulan is late to meet the matchmaker, you get the idea).

What do you think of “Daughters of Triton”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

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See also:

The Little Mermaid “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (1989)

The Little Mermaid “Vanessa’s Song” (1989)

For more Disney songs, check out the main page here

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Disturbing Disney #16: King Triton destroys Ariel’s grotto

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King Triton destroys the grotto

Thirty years after the so called “Golden Age” of Disney ended with Sleeping Beauty, the studio leapt into a new age of glory with the premiere of The Little Mermaid in 1989. Loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale of the same name, the film raised animation to a whole new level. As a very young child, I lived and breathed The Little Mermaid, following Ariel’s adventure with rapt attention. And yet…after seeing the film a hundred times, something strange began to happen: I didn’t enjoy the film as much, in fact I became downright scared of it and would rather watch anything but that film!

Being only three, my fear was attributed to the scariness of Ursula at the climax of the film, and this is partially true. But even before Ursula transformed herself into a colossus, I developed a fear of an entirely different scene. Now that I’m grown up, I look back at this scene and recognize the disturbing elements that led me to reject this scene and ultimately the film as a child. And that scene is King Triton’s destruction of Ariel’s grotto.

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Ariel, the youngest daughter of King Triton, keeps many secrets from her loving but overprotective father. The biggest of these secrets is that she has a secret grotto full to the brim with human artifacts that she has salvaged from various human shipwrecks on the ocean floor. This is a huge problem because Triton has strictly forbidden contact with anything from the human world, up to and including anything made by humans. Sebastian, Triton’s court composer, discovers the grotto during “Part of Your World” but is initially persuaded by Ariel to keep it a secret. But when it becomes clear that Ariel has fallen in love with the human Prince Eric, Sebastian reluctantly informs King Triton of the truth.

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Triton’s confrontation with Ariel coincides with Flounder surprising his best friend with a statue of Prince Eric that was on the shipwreck that Ariel saved the prince from earlier in the film. The princess is delighted with her present and she twirls about in delight, only to come face to face with her very angry father. As a single father, King Triton has done his best to raise seven daughters, but Ariel’s stubbornness has him at his wits end. He tries, as best he can, to convince his daughter that her love for the prince can’t possibly come to anything, that humans are dangerous. As the famous line goes “Have you lost your senses completely? He’s a human, you’re a mermaid!” When Ariel retorts that she doesn’t care (about the difference), Triton decides desperate measures are in order.

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“So help me Ariel, I am going to get through to you. And if this is the only way, so be it!”

What follows disturbs me to this day. Full of anger, King Triton proceeds to destroy most of the grotto, with several shots devoted to various items disintegrating from the power of the trident. That part alone is heartbreaking because we already know Ariel loves her collection very much. But what makes this scene disturbing is how Triton changes. As he finishes the line with “so be it”, the glow of the trident first under-lights his face, creating a scary look. Then, for the rest of the destruction, the king is drawn as a dark figure surrounded by a dark red background, destroying everything in spite of Ariel’s anguished pleas for him to stop.

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This is disturbing because, for this moment, Triton has become a monster in the eyes of Ariel and the audience. Fathers aren’t supposed to hurt their children, even if they have done something wrong. And while it is true that Triton did not lay a hand on Ariel, destroying her prized possessions right in front of her must have done severe psychological and emotional damage.

To be fair, Triton expresses remorse almost immediately afterward, as he is seen glancing back with sadness when he hears Ariel sobbing, but nevertheless, the damage is done. Ariel’s private sanctuary has been destroyed, and she doesn’t feel like she can trust anybody since Sebastian betrayed her secret. Hence, this is the perfect opportunity for Ursula’s hench-eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, to sneak their way in and invite Ariel to visit their mistress.

What do you think of Triton’s destruction of the grotto? Did he go too far? Did you find it disturbing as well? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also:

Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #4: Dumbo loses his mother (1941)

Disturbing Disney #5 The death of Bambi’s Mother

Disturbing Disney #6: Faline vs. the dogs (1942)

Disturbing Disney #7: Cruella wants to do WHAT??

Disturbing Disney #8: The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (from Make Mine Music, 1946)

Disturbing Disney #9: Dr. Facilier’s Fate (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)

Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999)

Disturbing Disney #12: The Bear from The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #13: “Smoking them out” in The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #14: The Salt Trap in The Jungle Book (1994)

Disturbing Disney #15: Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia (1940)