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Musical Genre Theory

In: Film and Music

Submitted By kpearsson
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Genre Theory is where certain movies follow a certain type of formula. It starts with the characters portrayed, the settings and iconography; the elements usually lead to the expectations of the audience to be a particular type of movie. For example, The Little Mermaid is an iconic Disney musical. Musical Genre movies are “Films that focus on songs as a major element, whether sung by characters in a realistic context such as a nightclub, or sung in lieu of dialogue to further the plot and express emotions (Goodykoontz & Jacobs 2014)”. Musicals aren’t just movies like The Little Mermaid; they can also be musical documentaries or concert films (Goodykoontz & Jacobs 2014). The Little Mermaid follows the story of a young beautiful mermaid princess, Ariel, who falls in love with a human prince, Eric. After the opening title sequence, the film starts out with King Triton, Ariel’s father, at a concert given by his seven daughters. They sing a musical number introducing themselves when they get to Ariel’s part; the girls notice the princess is absent. Ariel and her best friend, a tropical fish named Flounder, are treasure hunting in sunken ships. Once she gets the things she admires, she takes it to her hiding place and sings the iconic song, “Part of Your World”. As Ariel is finishing her song, she looks up and sees a shadow of a ship going over her kidding place. She decides to go to the surface to check it out, which is forbidden by her father, this is when she sees Prince Eric for the first time, love at first sight. King Triton finds out about her trip to the surface; he finds Ariel’s hiding place. As he’s giving her a lecture, King Triton manages to get Ariel to admits she’s fallen for Eric. Hearing Ariel is in love with a human, it outrages the king to the point of destruction. Once Triton leaves, Ariel sends every away and two eels show up offering her a deal from the Sea-Witch, Ursula. At first, she refuses, then as the eels are leaving she changes her mind and follows them to Ursula’s lair. Ursula offers Ariel a chance to be with her prince. Ursula offers up a deal Ariel can't refuse, the princess will get legs and become human, in exchange for her voice. Ariel agrees and is soon on her way to the surface, not before Ursula gives her one condition she must make Prince Eric fall in love and kiss her by sunset of the third day. If she manages to get the kiss of true love she will be able to remain a human, if not she become one of Ursula’s ‘pets’. The Little Mermaid follows the Musical genre to a ‘T.’ The songs of this film are a major element. The songs truly capture the raw emotions and the drama. For example, in the wedding boat scene when Vanessa, Ursula the sea-witch turned human, is singing in a mirror you can hear the evil vindictiveness in her voice as she’s happy, because she thinks she has just gotten her revenge on King Triton. In this song, Vanessa further tells us about her tricking Ariel into believing she had a chance of completing the task Ursula gave to her.
Emotion plays a big part in musicals. If you take a look at the ”Part of Your World” scene, you can tell just how happy Ariel is about having her collection of ‘hoozits and whatzits galore.’ Ariel sings the whole song with a huge smile plastered on her face as she’s daydreaming of one day being able to walk on the surface. Another good example of emotion is “Poor Unfortunate Souls”. It is sung by Ursula as she’s trying to convince Ariel to sign the contract. With this song, you can see and hear how Ursula is taking advantage of Ariel’s sadness and despair, by trying to manipulate her into signing the contract. Another next song that plays an impactful role in The Little Mermaid is “Kiss the Girl”. This part of the movie is set in what looks like to be a small lake. At this point in the film, Eric hasn’t kissed Ariel yet. All of Ariel’s friends, Scuttle, Sebastian, and Flounder, turn the lake into a romantic setting by using the natural surroundings to make the melody. Meanwhile, Ariel’s friends are trying to set the ‘mood’ for the big kiss that is supposed to save Ariel from certain doom. In Conclusion, the songs sung by the Ariel and friends and Ursula all play pivotal roles in the movie. They all show the emotion, intensity, and drama of what is sure to unfold as you enjoy the iconic Disney movie The Little Mermaid. This film detailing the journey of Ariel trying to find a place in Prince Eric’s heart lives up to the expectation one has when watching a film of the musical genre.

References:
Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2014). Film: From watching to seeing (2nd ed.) [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/
The Little Mermaid - Disney 1989 [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cornel1801.com/disney/Little-Mermaid-1989/movie-film.html

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