Warning: This post contains mild spoilers for The Little Mermaid live-action
Disney’s The Little Mermaid got a live-action remake, and among some of the changes made included the film’s location. Directed by Rob Marshall and starring Halle Bailey as Ariel, The Little Mermaid swam into theaters on May 26, and featured a star-studded supporting cast. While the story remained loyal to the 1989 animated movie, the live-action adaptation made a few adjustments, including to its setting.
There’s a scene in The Little Mermaid that sees Ariel and Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) venturing into town on a wagon. There is a vibrancy to the scene as Ariel mingles briefly with the island’s population, dancing with them in the street while exploring the culture, artifacts, and goods they have to offer. It’s immediately clear that the live-action Little Mermaid is set in a new location, one that is distinct from the one in the animated classic. Though it’s different, Prince Eric’s kingdom is still an island, but one with a disparate aesthetic and feel than before. The film’s setting offers something new, taking influence from a real-life region.
The Little Mermaid Remake Hints At A Location Change From The Original Movie
The Little Mermaid animation was set under the sea in the kingdom of Atlantica and its adjacent surface world, both of which were believed to be located in Denmark. It’s also where author Hans Christian Andersen, who penned the original story, was from. While the actual location of the 1989 is unknown, with many speculating it’s set somewhere in the Mediterranean, The Little Mermaid live-action changed things up in terms of its location, with the revelation that the film’s surface scenes take place across the ocean and south of Andersen’s homeland.
When Ariel and Eric look at the maps of Eric’s island kingdom and its surroundings, the film suggests its setting is now in the Caribbean, and the culture Ariel experiences while in town also indicates that the remake updated its location. Prince Eric’s castle, among other things, also draws from the Caribbean setting. The Little Mermaid actually filmed in London’s Pinewood Studios and the Italian island of Sardinia, which is a far cry from the Caribbean itself, though Prince Eric’s island kingdom is itself fictitious. All told, the film’s setting is reminiscent of a Caribbean atmosphere, with its street market, dancing, architecture, and the ocean’s clear waters making an impression on Ariel.
Why The Little Mermaid’s Caribbean Setting Makes Sense For The Remake
The Little Mermaid’s Caribbean setting is a refreshing change, and one that makes sense for the live-action film, especially when considering the famously Jamaican-accented Sebastian (Daveed Diggs gives the crustacean more of a Trinidadian accent). What’s more, the vibe and music of the original animation — notably in the memorable hits “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl — already had a Caribbean feel to them. And since the movie’s cast is so diverse, a fictitious Caribbean setting works all the more. Moving The Little Mermaid live-action to the actual Caribbean, albeit a fictional one, fits into what has already been established in the story and adds to it, enhancing it and fleshing it out further.