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‘The Little Mermaid’ filmmakers talk putting a modern spin on the timeless tale

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The Little Mermaid swims back into theaters this weekend, this time as a live action version of the 1989 classic animated Disney musical.

Rob Marshall directed the new film, and he tells ABC Audio that the original Hans Christian Andersen story from the 1830s surprisingly has a lot to say about life in the 2020s.

“When we went back and looked at this tale, we saw this incredibly modern story of a girl who feels displaced, who doesn’t feel she fits in and wants to sort of break the boundaries and break the sort of taboo of going to see what another life is like in another world,” he explains.

Even with similarities, executive producer John DeLuca says they did feel they needed to make some changes.

“It was very important for us to make Ariel’s quest for going…above the surface, not just for a love of a handsome man, but to be part of that world, to learn,” DeLuca shares.

The Little Mermaid soundtrack also gets a little update with composer Alan Menken, who wrote the music for the original, creating three new songs for the new film with lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It’s a partnership that Menken says was “really delightful.”

“I know both of us are the kind of people who will just keep writing and writing and writing till we write something that’s fantastic,” Menken expressed.

There were also some lyrical changes to the classic songs this time around, which Menken was “totally open” to do.

“There were cuts made sometimes just for dramaturgical reasons in this, and sometimes it was just to remedy something that might just need adjusting for the times,” he clarified. “As long as it doesn’t at all damage the basic quality of the song, I’m totally open to that.”

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