It’s time, once again, for a Disney+ battle. This week, I will be comparing and contrasting two popular films from the Disney Renaissance. Let’s see which film is better between “The Little Mermaid” and “Pocahontas.”

1. PROTAGONIST

The main character of “The Little Mermaid” is Ariel, a 16-year-old mermaid, who has fallen in love with a guy she saved after he fell off a ship. The main character of “Pocahontas” is Pocahontas, a 16-year-old Native American girl, who falls in love with a guy she saved from being killed by her tribe. Those are very similar protagonists. Ariel decides to give up her voice for a pair of legs to try to convince the Prince to kiss her. Pocahontas tries to teach John Smith about the importance of the land rather than industrialization. The major difference is Ariel is based on a character from a fairytale and Pocahontas is very loosely based on a real person who was much younger when she supposedly saved John Smith and it wasn’t a love story. Point to “The Little Mermaid.”

The Little Mermaid 1 | Pocahontas 0


2. ANTAGONIST

The main villain of “The Little Mermaid” is Ursula, a sea witch, who convinces Ariel to give up her voice for her legs. Then, she transforms herself to ensure Prince Eric doesn’t kiss Ariel by the deadline to get her voice back. She’s evil. In contrast, the main villain of “Pocahontas” is Governor Ratcliffe, a representation of European, specifically British, colonization in the Americas. He’s a greedy man searching for gold and ordering his sailors to kill the “savages” for being different. He is the worst of what man can be. While Ursula is a more fun villain, Governor Ratcliffe is a more realistic villain. Point to “Pocahontas.”

The Little Mermaid 1 | Pocahontas 1

3. SUPPORTING CHARACTERS

Both of these films are filled with interesting supporting characters. Sebastian steals the show with his performances of “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.” Flounder is a true friend to Ariel. Scuttle is a lot of fun even if he is dimwitted. They carry the movie in some parts, especially when Ariel can’t speak. “Pocahontas” has great friends in Meeko and Flit. Grandmother Willow is a wise figure for advice. And John Smith is written as a good man, even if the actual John Smith was less than admirable. I think the characters in “The Little Mermaid” are better though. Point to “The Little Mermaid.”

The Little Mermaid 2 | Pocahontas 1

4. MUSIC

This is a battle of Alan Menken and Alan Menken. He was one of the major songwriters on both films. “The Little Mermaid” was the first of three films Menken worked on with Howard Ashman for Disney. They produced great songs like “Under the Sea,” “Part of Your World,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” and “Kiss the Girl,” as well as an excellent score. Menken was working with Stephen Scwartz by the time he was working on “Pocahontas.” They produced some more great songs like “Just Around the Riverbend” and “Colors of the Wind.” While “Colors of the Wind” is my favorite song from either movie, I think the music does a better job of driving “The Little Mermaid.” Point to “The Little Mermaid.”

The Little Mermaid 3 | Pocahontas 1


5. MEMORABLE MOMENTS

Time now for the most subjective category of these battles. To me, the memorable parts of “The Little Mermaid” include: “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” King Triton destroying Ariel’s possessions, Ariel giving up her voice, Ariel misunderstanding life on land and Prince Eric and Ariel finally getting together. In “Pocahontas,” I think the memorable parts are: “Just Around the Riverbend,” Pocahontas saving John Smith, Thomas killing Kocoum and John Smith getting shot for Chief Powhatan and having to leave the “New World.” I think “The Little Mermaid” is more memorable. Point to “The Little Mermaid.”

“The Little Mermaid” wins this battle. Both of these are good films, but the subject matter of the real life Pocahontas makes the film unpalatable for some. I’m of the belief that “Pocahontas” would be a better film if it weren’t based on a real person. But, what do you think? Which film is better: “The Little Mermaid” or “Pocahontas?”





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Jeremy Brown

Jeremy has been a big Disney fan since he was a kid growing up during the Disney Renaissance. One day he hopes to go to every Disney Park in the world.

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