Two delightful surprises appear on Disney's Platinum Edition DVD of The Little Mermaid that was just released earlier this week.
Highly unique and original as a DVD supplemental feature is the Under The Sea Adventure. Very oddly listed under the Games & Activities section on disc 2, this feature is literally a virtual theme park attraction, based on Walt Disney Imagineering concepts for a Little Mermaid dark ride. Imagineers returned to their early 1990s designs to create this CG experience. Tony Baxter provides the background on the project, and viewers are treated to original concept art and models. A really great detail: when you board your ride vehicle at the beginning, you hear safety instructions in both English and Spanish.
The Little Match Girl is a truly beautiful seven minute piece of--what's this?--traditional 2D animation! Developed originally for a proposed Fantasia 2006 feature, this short is a poignant adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson story. Directed by Roger Allers and produced by Don Hahn, the film retains the story’s original tragic ending. Aside from the snowflakes at the film’s beginning, all the animation was hand drawn. I love a lot of CG animation, especially of the Pixar-level quality, but seeing this film really made me feel even sadder about traditional animation’s recent near-demise. It’s ironic that CG pioneer John Lasseter, now creative head of WDFA, will more than anyone, likely bring it back from the brink of extinction.
Oh, and there’s a really great animated feature film on the DVD that you might want to check out as well. Something about a mermaid and a prince . . .