The walls of my home are littered with pop culture art. I’ve got a lovely piece from Disney artist Brittney Lee, a Close Encounters print by Matt Ferguson, and a couple of Anna and Elsa prints from Mandie Manzano to name but a few. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke… I get over-invested in popular culture! It’s what I do. So when Disney’s art partners Cyclops Printworks announce a series of prints based on the work of Ron Clements and John Musker to celebrate the release of Moana, I get excited. Very excited.
The pieces are gorgeous, as I’ve come to expect from Cyclops Printworks, but if I had to pick one, I’d go for JC Richard’s wonderful The Little Mermaid print. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, Little Mermaid is my favourite Clements/Musker film (indeed, one of my favourite Disney films of all time). Secondly, I think it captures in one epic image something that nearly three decades of writing about the film has failed to capture: that Ariel is a goddamn badass!
Here’s the poster…
LOOK AT IT!! It’s beautiful. The colours, the grandeur, the detail. Everything about it is… beautiful. But more than that, it captures what the film’s about: not just Ariel’s love for Eric, but her desperation to break free of the traditions of her people and forge her own life. Richard captures that wonderfully by putting her against Atlantica’s castle: the imposing representation of all those traditions.
More than that, it’s a beautiful reference to all the man-stands-against-epic-thing posters that have littered Hollywood for years.
What do all these posters have in common (apart from an enjoyment of mens’ backs)? They’re all about power: the power of an heroic man standing up against something epic, awe-inspiring, or scary. That’s what Ariel does in The Little Mermaid, and that’s why she’s no less an awesome hero, no less strong, than any of the men in these posters, or any of the other Princess or non-Princess characters we’ve seen in Disney films.
Ariel is probably my favourite Disney Princess, and I’ve decided I’m going to return to her in a special post leading up to the newest Princess, Moana. I may even do a little series focusing on my favourite Princesses and why I like them. Until then, consider this a little precursor. And a showcase of awesome art, and even more awesome mermaids.