Luca, the new Pixar movie, and The Little Mermaid, one of the Disney classics based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen, they have much more in common than it might seem. Even behind the figure of the protagonist of The Little Mermaid there is a very interesting story. In addition, it includes a metaphor that must be taken into account to understand what Andersen wanted to tell with his tragic tale.
First of all, let’s focus on What do they have in common both movies. We already know everything that differentiates them; but there are certain brushstrokes that unite the two stories, beyond the fact that it begins under the sea. For this we are going to talk about Luca, so this article contains spoilers for the new film.
Let’s start with the similarities in the two films before getting into the mud of metaphors. The beginning of both Luca, who can already be seen on Disney Plus for free, and The Little Mermaid is with a sailing ship. Of course, there are always differences, for example the one in the new Pixar movie is smaller; but it already makes you remember the other movie.
Similarities between ‘Luca’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’
When Luca and Alberto meet for the first time; Luca is looking at various objects that fell from the ship the night before. Among them, a watch that we will see again later in the film. Right away, it becomes clear to us Alberto’s fascination for the surface and Luca’s fear. Afterwards, the protagonist of the film will also be fascinated by the surface; especially when he discovers the existence of Vespas. That same fear and fascination are what lead Ariel to peek into Prince Eric’s ship, to save him and leave him on the beach. And, also, to begin your story. In short, the curiosity of both characters on the surface is what makes them want to embark on this new adventure. But there is something else that pushes them there.
The parents of Ariel and Luca do not want them to have contact with the surface and they get angry, but thanks to that they begin their adventures
Luca and Ariel’s adventures begin after fighting with their mother and father, respectively. Both parents get angry with their children because of their fascination with the surface. The protagonist of the Pixar film is discovered after spending several days rising to the surface to spend time with Alberto. While Triton is angry after discovering that Ariel is madly in love with a human. Neither parent wants their child to get out of the water.
By last, both have to change their body to be able to get out of the sea; although the way they do it is different. Ariel gives up her tail in exchange for her voice and for three days she tries to woo Prince Eric. For its part, Luca just has to get out of the water to make his sea monster body disappear. However, any contact with water causes it to transform again, even partially. The way Luca shapeshift is more reminiscent of the mermaids from the H20 series than the Disney classic.
‘The Little Mermaid’ also has its metaphor
What happens under the sea that both Luca and Ariel prefer the surface? Well, if we read it as if the sea were a closet, the truth is that it is understood that both prefer to be outside of it and live their happy lives. We have already talked about Luca before, but what about The Little Mermaid? Is it also a metaphor about the LFTB + collective? At first it doesn’t seem like it, you have to understand Andersen to see the metaphor.
Neither company wanted to make their protagonists LGTB + icons, but that does not mean that people can make one different reading of the movies that their creators were looking for. However, with The Little Mermaid we have to go back in time. Until the moment Andersen wrote his story. It is different from the Disney story, because, for example, the protagonist of the story ends up turned into bubbles after not getting the love of her prince; but both stories still have things in common.
Andersen’s love for an aristocrat
Hans Christian Andersen was the protagonist of his stories, from The Ugly Duckling to The Princess and the Pea. And, how could it be less, also from The Little Mermaid. In his works embodied his greatest wishes and shaped reality to another that was much more favorable to him. Except in the case of the story on which Disney would later be based to create Ariel.
In Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, the protagonist feels a fascination for the surface and a prince, but none of his wishes will be satisfied. And this is because it is based on Andersen’s own story and his fascination with the aristocrat Edvard collins, son of the director of the Royal Theater in Copenhagen.
The desire for a reciprocated love
Ariel’s story emerged when Andersen went into exile on the island of Flyn when his love got married. And it is that the writer loved him deeply, according to some of the letters that have been recovered. However, it was late nineteenth century and homosexuality was frowned upon; so the surface of the story symbolized the freedom to love. But Collins had absolutely nothing for the Danish writer but disgust and contempt; This is important because otherwise, the idea that they had at the time would not have mattered, other men and women have lived their love before, although with less freedom.
Andersen thus explained that his homosexual wishes would only be good or correct if they were reciprocated; but collins didn’t love him
But let’s get back to the point. We don’t know if Andersen was gay or bisexual, but the important thing is that I wanted a man. And that forbidden desire was reflected in the fascination of his little mermaid on the surface and the search for love in the prince. But the tale has a tragic ending. In the narration, Andersen has already explained that mermaids do not have a soul and that only with the prince’s kiss, he would receive a piece of his soul and they would live happily. On the other hand, since the prince does not correspond to him; the Little Mermaid turns into sea foam and dies.
Andersen thus explained that his homosexual desires would only be good or correct if they were reciprocated; but Collins did not love him. He considered that he did not have a soul and that only his beloved could give it to him, as he reflected in the story. Only the reciprocated love It would make him not feel like a monster.
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The other reading of ‘The Little Mermaid’
Leaving us from Andersen’s own story, The Little Mermaid can have another reading. This is a bit more free, but it states that Ariel would represent trans women, that only leaving behind the surface and the mermaid tail could they be happy. That transformation towards his true self would fill trans women with happiness and, why not, the love of a prince.
Some trans women feel identified with Ariel’s story, although it was not what Andersen or Disney wanted to tell
This other reading is less known, but it must also be taken into account because some trans women they feel identified with it. Or, at least, with the metaphor. And while Disney, of course, will never accept that Ariel can be considered a trans character or that she is a metaphor for homosexuality; the people of the LGTB + collective have their icons there. Regardless of what Pixar or Disney wanted to tell, the experiences of the spectators mark the reading that is made of the films. And they are all correct.
Beyond ‘Luca’: LGTBIQ + icons at Disney
But Ariel and Luca They are not the only characters that attract attention due to their possible sexualities. The followers of Elsa (Frozen, 2013) they asked for a girlfriend for her for years. With Raya and NamaariSomething similar happened from another of the latest Disney movies, Stripe and the Last Dragon. The chemistry between them is overwhelming, but the Mickey Mouse company has no intention of matching them at the moment. And another of the icons, in this case bisexual, is the general Li Shang, who ended up being Mulan’s husband.
That Ariel was a trans woman was not the idea that the writer wanted to convey; nor is it the idea of Pixar that its viewers think that Luca and Alberto, in other circumstances, would have been considered to like each other and would have been more explicit. However, not everything is the author’s intention. The message that the viewer receives will be different depending on their experiences and the feelings that the film generates. And, without a doubt, both The Little Mermaid and Luca have reached the LGTB + public in different ways than those proposed by its directors. They are not sea monsters, they are people who want to live free. Like everyone.