An influential mermaid

My dear friends at True Classics has invited bloggers to share their “Movie Memories” during the month of June. I am honored that I was invited to participate . Head to True Classics to read the other marvelous posts!

little mermaid

Little Mermaid

I remember sitting in a dim theater and looking at lit up designs on the wall.

It was 1989 and I was about a year old, but I remember. Somehow I have an uncanny memory.

The Little Mermaid” was the last Disney feature film to be animated with hand painted cells and it was my first movie in a movie theater.

Though “The Little Mermaid” isn’t necessarily a classic film, I was very attached to the movie when I was very young. It introduced me to a love of movies and movie characters.

My sisters tell me I used to roll around in the bath water while my mother would try to bathe me pretending to be a mermaid like Ariel. A Christmas Day home video shows me excitedly playing with a new Ariel Barbie while trying to sing tunes from the film.

I even remember telling my mom that I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up. She said, “You can’t, you have to be born a mermaid.” I found this to be a very puzzling statement.



My parents always took my sisters and me to see the new Disney cartoons but also introduced us to the classic Disney films. Cinderella (1950) was another favorite of mine at a young age.

The Little Mermaid” and “Cinderella” are typical favorite films for little girls between the age of two to six, and maybe even older.

Several years later in 1997, I saw another film that affected the way I viewed movies. In third grade, I fell in love with the Twentieth Century Fox animated film “Anastasia.”



I was obsessed.  I wore a locket like in the film, learned the dances, studied Romanov history and wished I was the lost princess Anastasia Romanov. My mom told me that wouldn’t be possible. But this time I understood what she meant.

The movie interested me in history and the 1920s since the song “Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart” has cameos from Josephine Baker and Maurice Chevalier.

Again, another movie changed the way I looked at things.

At the age of 14, my dad decided to introduce me to “West Side Story.” I remember it was March and I was on spring break.

West Side Story mambo scene

West Side Story mambo scene

West Side Story” changed the way I looked at film and solidified my love for classic movies. It’s what led me to watch 501 musicals and thousands of other classic films.

But my film love all started with “The Little Mermaid.”

As I sat in the movie theater, not even two years old, my life was change. Movies became important to me at an early age, shaping my interests and world views.

Who would have thought that a disobedient teenage mermaid could be so influential.

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6 thoughts on “An influential mermaid

  1. That’s lovely! What special memories.

    We took our younger daughter to a reissue of THE LITTLE MERMAID as her first movie — which turned out to be a strange experience as fire alarms went off and we had to exit partway through the movie, then they later let us back in and we finished it. 🙂

    My first film in a theater was also Disney — my parents took me to see MARY POPPINS when I was three. Later, at the same age, they took me to THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Julie Andrews has thus been very important in my life. 🙂 It’s really special to me that I’ve seen both her and Dick Van Dyke in person since they were in my very first big-screen movie!

    Best wishes,


    • Those are some great movies to see for the first time in a theater! I’m impressed you sat through Sound of Music at such a young age (that’s a looong movie).
      That’s amazing you have seen Andrews and Van Dyke in person too!
      That’s terrible about The Little Mermaid though. That’s a pretty frightening first film experience
      Thank you for reading, Laura! 🙂


  2. Nice Jessica!!! What I found especially interesting is despite our age difference (I am a lot older!) we have one film in common that was memorable to our film development, that being WEST SIDE STORY. I was about the same age as you were when my folks and I saw the film on Broadway in NYC. It was my first time in a majestic Broadway theater. WEST SIDE STORY which I have seen countless times since remains one of my two favorite musicals (the other being SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN.) Thanks for sharing!


    • Thank you, John!
      Hooray for finding a fellow West Side Story fan and that sounds amazing that you saw it on Broadway! Much more exciting than watching it in my living room 🙂


  3. I adored the Little Mermaid as a child. In fact, one time I watched it seven times in one day. I just wanted to see how many times I could watch it in a row. And I always cried when Ursula became huge and did that maniacal laugh. Oh no!

    Great post Jessica!


    • I feel like “The Little Mermaid” was THE childhood movie for girls our age. That’s hilarious that you watched it so many times in a row! I don’t remember being too happy about Ursula growing to her gigantic size when I was little…but now I find it hilarious.
      Thank you for reading, Raquel 🙂


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