Saturday, February 18, 2006

Roman Holiday, The Little Mermaid

It's kind of amazing that someone like Audrey Hepburn existed. I've only seen two of her films to-date: Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany's. Nevertheless, from what little I know about her, she is endlessly captivating. Regardless...

Roman Holiday reminds me quite a bit of The Little Mermaid. Not the Disney one, but the original Hans Christian Andersen one. Actually, maybe not even exactly that one, but one definitely a lot more faithful to it. When I'd originally watched it somewhere around the age of eight, I think the idea of the mermaid disappearing into sea foam broke my heart. I'd go so far as to say that it's colored my worldview from that point on.

I'm sure The Little Mermaid was about a lot of things, but what sticks out in my mind is cultural immobility. She gives up her voice (her ability to communicate words and precise ideas) to gain legs (the appearance of a human). It seems pretty blunt in implying the prince and mermaid's love, though earnest, is only superficial. In the end (of the movie that I recall), even though her sisters provide her a means to return as a mermaid by killing the prince, she chooses to dissolve into sea foam instead.

In Roman Holiday, Joe and Ann fall quickly and earnestly in love, despite being from different worlds. In the end, though in love, they realize that what they had was beautiful, but ephemeral; true but out of reach.

If the movie were made today, Ann and Joe would probably end up getting married, living happily ever after. It's not that it couldn't happen. I recall a Japanese princess (Princess Akiko I believe) married a commoner not too long ago. And it's good in that it shows that love can overcome any obstacle; that hard work and perseverance can let you accomplish anything... You can create a multi-billion dollar business, too, I just don't think it's a realistic expectation.


Heather said...

I've made that observation, myself, Gabe. Roman Holiday tops my list of favorites, and Disney's version, though changed, remains one of their best since 'Sleeping Beauty.'

I think that one of the reasons 'Roman Holiday' is so memorable and wonderful is that it refused to give in to the Hollywood ideal of 'living happily ever after (I was going to write 'happy ending,' but, well, you know)' just to leave viewers sated. I don't know about you, but that final scene always leaves me smiling - granted, with tears running down my face - because of the purity of the story and the superb acting of Peck and Hepburn.

Disney gave into that Hollywood ideal with 'The Little Mermaid," but stayed true enough to the original fairy tale to make it memorable.

The similarities between the two are surprising, and you have to wonder if Dalton Trumbo took his inspiration from childhood memories.

It's so secret that I love Audrey Hepburn, and you should try to see more of her films!

'Sabrina,' 'Funny Face,' and 'How to Steal a Million' are fluffy fun, 'Wait Until Dark' is scary and dramatic, and 'Charade' has been dubbed "The best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made" (and one of my favorites).

Deals On Wheels said...

Haha! I was just about to comment something like, "Ghee, I wonder how long it will take Heather to comment on this post!" And, of course, she already has.


The thing about the Little Mermaid (and I'm speaking about the Disney version, here) that has always bothered me is that Ariel SIGNED her name on the contract she made with the sea witch. Thus, the audience can conclude that Ariel was, in fact, LITERATE. So why didn't Ariel write the prince a letter explaining what was going on? This has always driven me crazy…stupid Ariel!

Gabe said...

Yeah, I've added a few of her movies to my queue. But given Netflix's throttling, who knows when I'll get them (i've currently got about 160 in there).

I'd bet Trumbo and Andersen both worked from the grander scheme of things.

As far as Ariel being literate goes, that certainly would've made it a lot easier for her. I guess that reminds me of an In Living Color sketch: Jim Carrey played a man who was hypnotized into being a chicken, but prior to being turned back, the hypnotist dies, leaving Carrey a chicken for the rest of his life. Years later, he's destitute and in a fast food restaurant trying to get a hamburger. The clever cashier tells him to just write it down, and Carrey thinks to himself, "Of course! Why didn't I think of that?" and proceeds to write down "Bak bak bak baka!"

But yeah, I re-read the Andersen fable prior to writing the post and literacy never plays a role. Can't say that I've ever thought of that before, tho...

Heather said...

I also see a very strong similarity between Roman Holiday and Disney's 'Aladdin.' Princess escapes castle pretending to be a commoner... meets man who pretends he doesn't know who she is...

Gabe said...

Definitely not the same ending though.

On second thought, maybe the Little Mermaid and Roman Holiday aren't that similar after all... In Roman Holiday, I guess it was more about personal compatibility offset by positional incompability. In the Little Mermaid, it was probably more just personal incompatibility.