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Mythical Beauties: Varying Representations of Mermaids in Film

In the field of mythology, mermaids draw constant speculation. Their elusive nature adds to this element of mystery. However, film tends to polarize these mythical creatures into one of two categories: dangerous temptress or charming innocent. Identify specific films that assign mermaids to either of these two categories, and describe how this characterization helps to develop the film’s plot line.

  • An example of the innocent lies in the Disney Classic The Little Mermaid, as an example of the temptress is in the fourth Harry Potter movie. – tombaumser 7 years ago
  • Its amazing how we make something so scary absolutely innocent, to entertain kids. The question is whether this is destroying the old myths, creating new, or some weird mutant baby in between. – thesoaringmarlet 7 years ago
  • The movie Mermaids is a good example of the innocence that mermaids evoke in popular media as all three of the main female characters in the film are representative of feminine innocence in one way or another. Although the characters never become mermaids for anything more than a Halloween costume, the idea and all of the literary and historical baggage is attached to them because of the titling. All three women have their own struggles, yet they are resilient, independent, and own their gender and/or sexuality in powerful ways. For an 'actual' mermaid--for whatever that term is worth--I would not overlook Daryl Hannah's mermaid character in "Splash." This character epitomizes innocence, ignorance and nativity in a very saccharine, painful and unrealistic way. This is an unintentionally loaded film, with many problematic characters and gendered themes. It is also interesting to note that this film was the first live action release of Walt Disney Studios' Touchstone Pictures label, from the same Walt Disney that released the animated classic, "The Little Mermaid," in 1989. "Splash" became such a hit that it even popularized the female name of Madison, being the self given name of Hannah's character, after it's release. In a nutshell, this film had a great influence on pop culture. – HeatherStratton 7 years ago