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Original Production Animation Cels of Princess Ariel, Prince Eric, and Max from "The Little Mermaid"

Updated: Jul 20, 2019

Original Production Animation Cels of Princess Ariel, Prince Eric, and Max from "The Little Mermaid," 1989
Original Production Animation Cels of Princess Ariel, Prince Eric, and Max from "The Little Mermaid," 1989

Original hand painted production animation cel of Princess Ariel, Prince Eric, and Max with matching Wedding Veil cel from "The Little Mermaid," 1989, Numbered 123 and V123 in ink lower right corners; Walt Disney Studios; Set on a lithographic background; Walt Disney seal upper right; Size - Princess Ariel, Prince Eric, & Max: 7 3/4 x 15", Image 10 x 17"; Unframed.

"The Little Mermaid," is an American animated musical fantasy film and the 28th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. It was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures to theaters on November 17, 1989. The film was based on the Danish fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, which tells the story of a beautiful mermaid princess who dreams of becoming human. The film was written, directed, and produced by Ron Clements and John Musker; with music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. The voice cast includes: Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Pat Carroll, Samuel E. Wright, Jason Marin, Kenneth Mars, Buddy Hackett, and René Auberjonois.

There was more money and resources dedicated by the Walt Disney Studios to "The Little Mermaid" than any other Disney animated film in decades. Aside from its main animation facility in Glendale, California; Disney opened a satellite feature animation facility in Lake Buena Vista, Florida that was within the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park at Walt Disney World. Their first projects were to produce an entire Roger Rabbit cartoon short, "Roller Coaster Rabbit," and to contribute ink and paint support to "The Little Mermaid." Another first for Disney films of recent years, was the filming of live actors and actresses for motion reference material for the animators. Broadway actress Jodi Benson (who was predominantly a stage actress when she was cast) was chosen to play Ariel, and Sherri Lynn Stoner, a former member of Los Angeles' Groundlings improvisation comedy group, acted out Ariel's key scenes.

The Little Mermaid's supervising animators included Glen Keane and Mark Henn on Ariel, Duncan Marjoribanks on Sebastian, Andreas Deja on King Triton, and Ruben Aquino on Ursula. Originally, Keane had been asked to work on Ursula, as he had established a reputation for drawing large powerful figures, such as the bear in "The Fox and the Hound," 1981 and Professor Ratigan in "The Great Mouse Detective," 1986. Keane however, was assigned as one of the two lead artists on the petite Ariel and oversaw the "Part of Your World" musical number. He jokingly stated that his wife looks exactly like Ariel "without the fins." The character's body type and personality were based upon that of Alyssa Milano, who was starring on TV's "Who's the Boss?". The effect of Ariel's hair underwater was based on footage of Sally Ride when she was in space; and scenes of Sherri Lynn Stoner in a swimming pool were used in animating Ariel's swimming. A challenge in animating Ariel were the colors required to show her in various changing environments, both under the sea and on land. By the end of the film, the animators required a total of 32-color models; not including costume changes. The sea-green color of her fin was a hue specially mixed by the Disney paint lab, and the color was named "Ariel" after the character.

Prince Eric was designed by Glen Keane and animated by Mathew O'Callaghan. O'Callaghan worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios beginning in 1981 and ending in 2007. Eric's voice was supplied by Christopher Daniel Barnes, who was only 16 years old at the time. He is best known for providing the voice of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the 1994 television series Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Eric's dog is his loyal Old English Sheepdog named Max. Max was animated by Russ Edmonds and the voice actor was Frank Welker. Welker has done over 800 different character voice roles in animated films, television shows, video games, and commercials; and he is listed as the number one "All Time top 100 Stars at the Box Office" in terms of the total revenue generated by the films in which he has participated. A bit of trivia: when Max growls at the Prince Eric statue, the snarling was reused sound from Toby in The Great Mouse Detective when he made stairs out of his left ear while he, Basil, Dr. Dawson, and Olivia were leaving Ratigan's lair.

"The Little Mermaid," 1989 was the final Walt Disney full length feature film that used hand painted animation cels. This is an outstanding original production animation cel setup of Princess Ariel, Prince Eric, and their loyal Old English Sheepdog Max. The setup is from the end of the film when The Little Mermaid, Ariel marries her Prince Eric. This is a very large cel image spanning an incredible fifteen inches long. A absolutely spectacular addition to any animation art collection!


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