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A special "Under the Sea," bulge-free, M-I-C edition of Why For

Jim Hill

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A special "Under the Sea," bulge-free, M-I-C edition of Why For

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First off, Major Mudd writes in to say:

Jim --

I just got my hands on a preview copy of the new "Little Mermaid" 2-disc set. This DVD is a Disney geek's delight. It's absolutely loaded with goodies. Everything from a dishy commentary track by Alan Menken, John Musker & Ron Clements to a simulated ride-thru of that "Little Mermaid" dark ride that the Imagineers were going to build at Euro Disneyland.

Speaking of that audio commentary: Toward the beginning of the film, as Ariel is exploring that sunken ship and she & Flounder get attacked by a Great White, Ron Clements says:
"The shark, his name is Glut, although his name is never brought up the movie. He was originally going to return later in the movie and Flounder was going to defeat him. And Flounder would have his moment of glory, finally. But as we simplified the story, Glut never does return."
Didn't you once do a story about those cut Glut scenes? Which had something to do with a barrel of explosives, if I'm remembering correctly?
Given that a lot of people will be re-watching "The Little Mermaid" next week, I'm sure that they (just like me) would like to know more about these missing scenes from the movie. So could you tell your Glut story one more time? Please?

Dear Major Mudd --

Well, since you asked so nicely ... Sure ...

Truth be told, it's not so much that a scene actually got cut out of "The Little Mermaid." But -- rather -- a gag that John Musker & Ron Clements had set up in the first 10 minutes of their film that didn't pay off as well as it could have.

Which gag am I talking about? Well, do you remember Ariel’s introductory scene in “The Little Mermaid”? The one where she and Flounder swim through an old sunken ship in search of human artifacts, only to wind up being attacked by a great white shark?

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

That shark’s name (as Ron confirms in his DVD commentary) was Glut. And according to the first draft of that script – as Glut flails around the interior of that sunken ship, frantically trying to get at Ariel & Flounder so he can eat them -- this shark accidentally swallows a lot of stuff. Including a an old French horn.

Luckily, the two friends are finally able to escape once Glut gets his head caught in the rope end of an anchor.

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

In the finished version of "The Little Mermaid," Glut only gets about two minutes of screen time. And then he completely disappears from the movie. But if Ron'n'John had stuck to the original version of their screenplay, this great white shark would have re-appeared just as "TLM" 's action-packed finale was getting underway. More to the point, Glut would have gotten to make a truly spectacular exit from the film.

How so? Well, do you remember how Eric sets sail on his wedding barge with the magically altered Ursula. And Ariel is left heartbroken on the dock, as the sun begins to set.

Things are looking pretty hopeless at this point. But the Little Mermaid's animal friends simply refuse to give up. First Sebastian uses his claw to cut a rope that’s securing a bunch of barrels to the dock ...

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

Then the crab orders Ariel to grab onto one of the bobbing barrels while Flounder (who’s taken ahold of a piece of rope that’s still secured to that barrel) starts to tow her out to the wedding barge.

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

The action in this part of the picture is already pretty intense. With Ariel urging Flounder on while she clings to the barrel ...

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

... While the poor little fish is clearly exhausted by the effort.

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

But you know what would have made this particular scene in "The Little Mermaid" even more intense? If the film-makers had just followed Musker & Clements' original screenplay. Which would have revealed (at this precise point in the picture) that Glut had somehow gotten free from that anchor.

And just as Ariel & Flounder reached Eric's wedding barge, the great white would have swum up underneath them …

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

And just as the Little Mermaid had started to clamber up the side of the ship, Glut would have broken through the surface. Intent on eating Ariel in one gulp ... 

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

It's up to Flounder now to save his friend. Thinking quickly, the terrified little fish crams the barrel that he's been towing into the great white’s gaping maw. As Glut bites down on that wooden container ...

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

... the camera zooms in to reveal the “Gun Powder” label that’s pasted to the side of that barrel.

Cut to the deck of the wedding barge. Prince Eric & Ursula’s ceremony ...

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

... is interrupted as the wedding barge is rocked by an enormous off-screen explosion. Tons of water now rain down on everyone standing on deck. After a slight pause, a battered French horn falls out of the sky – landing right at Ursula’s feet. Signaling Glut's demise.

And speaking of that wedding ceremony, Samantha P. writes in to ask:

Is there any truth to the rumor that Disney animators deliberately gave the bishop who is officiating at Eric & Ursula's wedding an erection?

Absolutely not. If you look closely at this image capture from the film, you'll notice that the only thing that's pointing out from under this cleric's robe ...

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

... is his knobby knees.

Though -- that said -- I find it kind of interesting to compare this shot from my new 2-disc version of "The Little Mermaid" ...

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

... to an image capture from my old VHS version of that very same scene in the film.

Copyright 1989 The Walt Disney Company

Is it just me? Or is the Bishop's groin area now bulge-free? 

UPDATE!  I've just spoken with someone who worked on the restoration of "The Little Mermaid." And he confirmed that -- as part of the work that was done on this 1989 Walt Disney Pictures release in order to get it ready for its long-since-abandoned IMAX release -- the minister received a makeover.

Meaning that whatever it was in this one particular portion in the picture that people used to interpret as being an erection has long since been removed. So any unsightly bulges that used to be in this scene has been animated away. Leaving behind a Bishop with a newly smooth and (hopefully) controversy-free crotch.

And -- finally -- speaking of things that are difficult to spot in this motion picture, Mouse-aholic writes in to say:

I know that you've written about this previously, Jim. But can you please tell me where I can find that hidden Mickey, Donald and Goofy in "The Little Mermaid" ?



Okay. When you pick up your copy of the Platinum Edition of "The Little Mermaid" next Tuesday, first insert Disc One in your DVD player. Then stop the film after three minutes and 42 seconds.

At that exact moment on screen, you should see this image ...

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

Directly below the curl of King Triton's hair you'll see (in descending order) Goofy, Donald Duck and then Mickey Mouse seated together in a row at the concert.

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises

Though how exactly this trio of classic cartoon characters can breath underwater remains a mystery to me.

Anyway ... That concludes our special all-"Little Mermaid" edition of Why For. You folks have a great weekend, okay?

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  • First off, Scuttle doesn't swim (but Flounder does!).
    I'm so upset that the artists had to change things in this movie...did anything but the bishop's knees get changed?  First the Beast's castle gets cleaned and an audio "hiccup" gets changed, then dust and alligators and waterfalls changed in "The Lion King", and Aladdin's line to Rajah gets changed...geesh.  I know some people might say, "Lighten up, nothing significant has been changed", but, even if one frame has been changed, they should let us know.  It's worth keeping the original VHS versions, since those truly are the original films the way they were seen in the theaters.
    Anyhoo, I'm really excited to pick up my copy of "The Little Mermaid" on Tuesday; I think it'll be the best-selling Platinum Edition yet.
  • That's a riot. I'm not even a Little Mermaid fan, but now I'll be picking up a disk on Tuesday.

    Is there going to be a Disney Geek equivalent to the well-loved "Han Shot First" t-shirt? ( http://www.thinkgeek.com/pvp/swag/712c/ ) I dunno, but I don't think I want to be walking around in a shirt that proclaims "The Minister Had A Boner."
  • I'm with blackcauldron85 on this one; I think it's only fair to the animation buffs and hardcore Disney fans to leave every single frame uncut, uncleansed, and untouched. Restoring everything is fine, but for a Platinum Edition it's not exactly fair, seeing how it's going to be the truely dedicated who are going to buy this newly released version.

    Anyway, I'm really excited about the Platinum Edition; it's probably going to be the first of my new Disney DVDs collection that I'm saving up for. After all, I have to start getting my own copies of all of the movies so that I have plenty of Disney of my own to take with me when I move out. Ack, I can't wait to get a hold of those special features!
  • Considering that Eisner ended up on tv some years back with that scene running to point out it was just the minister's knees, I can't say I'm surprised.

    I wouldn't worry too much about it. Variety just had an article today about how both Wal-Mart and the studios are trying to figure out just how much longer packaged content like DVDs are going to be around before content suscriptions take over. When that happens, there's bound to be uncut Disney available for hardcores- knobby knees and all- and more sensitive revamps for kids and the casual adult fans.
  • You can still get the 1998 DVD of Little Mermaid to see the  the uncut erection priest filled film. THe only thing is the credits were redone. Was there ever a Little Mermaid LD done? I've been buying all the reedited films on LD with hopes of one day putting them on DVD in all their audio hiccuped, dirty dust saying, Aladdin suggestive, glory! I hate it when Disney edits stuff. Aladdin and Little Mermaid have SIGNIFIGANTLY reanimated scenes. AS all the Imaxed films did. You can only get the untouched up films on LD.
  • Yes, there's a Little Mermaid LD, if the ebay listings are any indication.

    Anyone know if these visual changes are put on DVDs overseas? Disney's bordering on 4Kids terrain.
  • blackcauldron85 said:
    First off, Scuttle doesn't swim (but Flounder does!).
    I'm so upset that the artists had to change things in this movie...did anything but the bishop's knees get changed?  First the Beast's castle gets cleaned and an audio "hiccup" gets changed, then dust and alligators and waterfalls changed in "The Lion King", and Aladdin's line to Rajah gets changed...geesh.  I know some people might say, "Lighten up, nothing significant has been changed", but, even if one frame has been changed, they should let us know.  It's worth keeping the original VHS versions, since those truly are the original films the way they were seen in the theaters.
    First off, B&tB and Lion King had mostly been "cleaned" up for their IMAX reissues--Blowing 70mm up to IMAX size meant that a few details had to be re-detailed for clarity (as those who saw "Sorcerer's Apprentice" in the IMAX Fantasia 2000 will note)...

    As to why knees and tiger whispers get changed...well, take a big fat whopping guess who's responsible for THAT one:  9_9
    If a million Disney-fans and Disney-bashers hadn't been giggling over what they -thought- they saw, and each thought they were the first person in history to start telling all their friends about it over the net, Disney wouldn't have noticed them either...And they changed it to STOP all the easily-amused dopes from giggling about it.  Disney didn't change the films, Idiots changed the film when they got too attached to cheap jokes--I believe the expression is, "Don't come running to the rest of us".  :)
    (And besides, half of the "erection" jokes had been overlapped with Cheap Disney TLM Urban-Legend Joke #3, the idea that the original designs for distant shots of King Triton's palace spires had originally seemed a bit, er...phallic--Which was also changed later after a lot of adult third-graders started giggling about it in public.)
  • Alot of this has to do with the limitations of video versions, particularly when pan-and-scan distortions are made. http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/ozsuicid.htm http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/3menbaby.htm That said, improvements in home viewing tech may well reveal more of this sort of thing: http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/rescuers.htm
  • <i>Jim Hill's back with even more answers to your Disney-related questions. This time around, Jim talks about how Disney Consumer Products tries to influence the films that the studio makes, why you weren't able to spy any naughty bits in "Mulan"
  • PingBack from http://dominic.formedianews.info/originalversionofthelittlemermaid.html

  • PingBack from http://workmadeforhire.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/anchors-away/

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