The best change in Disney’s new live-action The Little Mermaid is easily the development between Ariel (Halle Bailey) and Eric (Jonah Hauer-King). We are given so much more in the remake than we are with the original, grounding both characters and giving more depth to their relationship. One of our favorite new scenes is during “Kiss the Girl” when Eric is showing Ariel all the constellations, and she tells him her name without words. Not only is this scene gorgeous and fun, as is the original, but it takes the original’s foundations and adds to it, making the scene feel fresh while giving the audience more to love.
There is a lot leading up to the scene between Ariel and Eric that makes it all the more rewarding. Eric’s attraction to Ariel is clear after the day they spend together, having fun and being with each other. She makes him forget about the siren’s voice that haunts him. She captivates him, even with her silence. Her true self shines, and she doesn’t hide. She wants to share herself with him. As soon as Ariel figures out a way to tell him her name, she does it brilliantly. Telling someone your name is part of the basic pleasantries exchanged when meeting someone new. But here, it feels like so much more.
Ariel pays close attention to Eric’s words, so to spare him from guessing every name he can think of, she takes control, using his own words to tell him. Their expressions are absolutely adorable in this scene; his surprise at her eagerness to share this with him and then his own determination to figure out her name makes this an iconic scene that is overwhelmingly intimate.
I love that Ariel directs the conversation without her voice. Eric is a gentle and observant person. When it comes to Ariel, his gentle nature puts her at ease and makes her feel safe enough to share herself and not just her name. Her exuberance is on clear display here, allowing Eric to see more of her. Ariel takes control in this scene, and Eric gives her the reigns once again, waiting and yearning to know her name. He takes in every detail to learn more about the enigmatic woman facing him who understands him better than anyone else has.
Eric says that her name is written in the stars, so quietly showing some of his vulnerability, and Bailey’s expression at that moment is full of the love Ariel feels for him. It also shows how much the love between Ariel and Eric has grown since their first meeting. At this point, she does know him far more, and it is effortless for viewers to believe in their feelings.
Of all the additional scenes we get of Ariel and Eric, this moment during “Kiss the Girl” emphasizes their emotional journey. Their longing is on obvious display, and the way they find means to communicate against the challenges presented is something to revere. It shows the depth of their connection and how sharing your name can be more than a simple exchange of words. It’s a way for Ariel and Eric to share all parts of themselves, with the little chance they have, ensuring their happy ending continues to feel magical.
The Little Mermaid is now available for digital purchase. What are your thoughts on Ariel and Eric’s name exchange? Let us know in the comments below.