Working Title Pictures has had an adaptation of The Little Mermaid brewing for years now, with Joe Wright (Hanna) attached to direct. Details have been scant as the project labored in development purgatory, but what we do know is that it will be the first live-action English language version of the classic fairy tale.
The well-known animated Disney adaptation is actually very faithful to Hans Christian Andersen’s original story (up until, the end, at least; Andersen’s conclusion to the tale doesn’t fit very well with the traditionally romantic Disney princess story arc), but does gloss over some of the more unpleasant aspects of it, such as the fact that the Little Mermaid actually has her tongue cut out and is cursed to feel agonising pain whenever she walks on her human legs.
It remains to be seen whether Wright’s version of The Little Mermaid will be closer to Andersen’s work, or whether it will apply a new twist to the tale, but at least the project now seems to be moving ahead. Deadline reports that Kelly Marcel, one of the co-creators of short-lived sci-fi show Terra Nova, has been hired to rewrite the script, which was originally penned by Abi Morgan (Shame).
Marcel is already committed to the major project of adapting E.L. James’ steamy erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey for the big screen, which comes with the challenge of making it something other than easy Rifftrax fodder (sample line from the book: “You’ve got a taste for this, haven’t you, Miss Steele?“/”I’ve only got a taste for you.”) If she’s capable of that then adapting Andersen’s beautiful and evocative fairy tale should be a cakewalk.
Joe Wright has notably made waves in the thriller genre with Hanna, but his other works have shown evidence of a real talent for period drama and doomed romance. His recent adaptation of Anna Karenina employed a technique of fascinating choreographed on-screen set changes and theatricality, in reference to historian Orlando Figes’ description of the Russian nobility living their lives as though they were actors on a stage. That kind of creative vision and originality could be just what this familiar story needs to freshen it up.
Are you looking forward to seeing what Wright and Marcel have to offer, or have you been left with fairy tale fatigue after the recent barrage of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Jack the Giant Slayer and Beauty and the Beast adaptations?
The Little Mermaid doesn’t have a scheduled release date yet, but we’ll keep you updated as the project develops.