Rob Marshall was determined for the water in The Little Mermaid to seem “photorealistic”.
A live-adaptation of Disney’s 1989 animated classic of the same name, the updated version follows Halle Bailey as Ariel, a mermaid princess who makes a deal with sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to trade her voice for human legs.
Reflecting on the painstaking process of reimagining the musical classic, director Marshall noted that he and the visual effects team had to map out each underwater scene in great detail.
“There are two different worlds in our story: the above world, which is the very real world, and the underwater world, which is our magical world where mermaids exist, crabs sing, and diving birds like Scuttle speak. The underwater world is entirely digital, and above the water, everything is real and constructed in the way a classic period film is,” he explained in a press release. “Even though it’s a magical world that we created, our goal was to not let it look animated in any way. We wanted to reimagine our underwater space in a photorealistic style so that it would come to life in a live-action way. That was really important to us.”
In addition, production designer John Myhre spent countless hours researching and reviewing nautical footage, documentaries, and still images to get the aesthetic of each set just right.
“We didn’t want it to look like a manmade or futuristic kingdom, but to feel like it actually comes from something very real,” he continued. “We wanted to try and keep it as natural as possible, so everything underwater actually comes from the sea.”
The Little Mermaid is now showing in cinemas.
– Cover Media