Eyes are known as a big identifier of emotion. In the movie, The Little Mermaid, directors Ron Clements and John Musker made sure to focus on the characters’ eyes. I believe they do this because in animation, it is very hard to show emotion through facial expressions and movement in the characters. The directors use a lot of graphics to emphasize this instead. For example, when the sea king, King Triton, learns of Ariel’s love for Prince Eric, anger is portrayed through graphics by shadowing his face so his eyes pop out. During his tantrum of ruining her human objects his eyes are the only things that are not yellow, again making them pop. Another time when Clements and Musker use graphics to emphasize emotion is when they first introduce Ursula. They do a fade out until the scene is just her eyes show in a black background. You are able to see that her eyes are a different shape than the other characters. A resemblance of evil.
Another way Clements and Musker use eyes to portray emotion is by enlarging the characters eyes. Not only that, but they continue to change the size throughout the movie. When Ariel first meets Eric after she becomes “human,” the size of her eyes increases immensely. This is due to the fact she is trying to seduce him into falling in love with her without the use of her voice. As Ariel matures and evolves as a character throughout the movie, her eyes become less prominent. As she loses her naïveté, the enormity of her eyes decreases. For example, in the final wedding scene, Ariel’s eyes have become more compact. This illustrates the coming-of-age and settling down of her ambitions as she ventures into womanhood.
Animators can use their artistic abilities to demonstrate themes in their films. Humans view eyes as the window to the soul, however, in animation, this is hard to achieve. Instead, directors and animators use graphics to accomplish this same effect.
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