Mermaids, those enchanting beings of the deep sea, have long captured our imaginations. From the alluring sirens of legends to friendly and wholesome depictions, these mythical creatures have left their mark on both childhoods and adulthoods. They’ve swum their way onto screens big and small, ranging from the fantastical to the eerie, with examples like the enigmatic Siren clan in Wednesday.
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As the “mermaidcore” aesthetic gains popularity, it’s natural to seek inspiration from these captivating beings. While we eagerly await the release of The Little Mermaid, there’s a sea of other mermaid-themed films and TV series that deserve a closer look. Whether you’re into animated adventures like Ruby Gillman and Lucca or exploring the depths of human form portrayals, there’s a treasure trove of mermaid media waiting to be discovered.
11‘Blue My Mind’ (2017)
“Blue My Mind,” a dark and unconventional coming-of-age drama directed by Lisa Brühlmann, offers a captivating yet unusual journey through Mia’s challenging teenage years. Luna Wedler portrays Mia, who not only grapples with the typical adolescent struggles and anxieties but also undergoes a startling physical transformation. Mia’s fate takes a drastic turn, and she must come to terms with her extraordinary and unsettling changes.
This film might not be everyone’s cup of tea, as some may find it flawed. However, it possesses a unique and strangely beautiful quality that’s equally disturbing, which adds to its overall allure. “Blue My Mind” also incorporates intriguing elements of horror, making it a distinctive cinematic experience worth exploring.
Aquamarine, a 2006 film starring Sara Paxton, is often regarded as a comforting and lighthearted watch. With its summery vibes, it’s the ideal choice for those looking to enjoy some carefree entertainment in the upcoming season. Directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum, the movie revolves around two teenage girls, played by Joanna “JoJo” Levesque and Emma Roberts, who discover that mermaids might not just be a myth after one of them, portrayed by Paxton, washes ashore following a violent storm.
While it primarily caters to its target audience of teenage girls, this delightful coming-of-age tale has also become a guilty pleasure for viewers of all ages worldwide. Its simplicity and charm make Aquamarine one of the most endearing mermaid-themed films to date.
9‘Night Tide’ (1961)
In the realm of psychological horror from 1961, we encounter Sailor Johnny Drake, played by Dennis Hopper, who finds himself on shore leave. His attention is captivated by Mora, portrayed by Linda Lawson, a young woman who mesmerizes audiences as a mermaid in a sideshow attraction. However, Johnny soon discovers that Mora’s act is more than just a performance; she genuinely believes she is fated to kill men on full moon nights.
While opinions on Curtis Harrington’s Night Tide are divided, with some viewers finding it slow-paced and uneventful, many critics laud it as a brilliantly executed, peculiar, moody, and atmospheric gem that deserves the attention of every horror enthusiast.
8‘Siren’ (2018 – 2020)
Freeform’s TV series surprised and intrigued many when it first debuted. Eric Wald and Dean White’s fantasy drama, Siren, invites viewers into a coastal village steeped in mermaid mythology. The peaceful existence of the town is disrupted when a mysterious woman arrives, bringing chaos in her wake.
With Eline Powell captivatingly portraying Ryn, the show delves into age-old mermaid legends while delivering an engaging storyline and commendable pacing, despite occasional criticisms about its writing, with some fans feeling that the earlier seasons were stronger. It’s worth noting that Siren spans three seasons.
7‘H2O: Just Add Water’ (2006 – 2010)
This iconic Australian series introduced audiences to the charms of Claire Holt, Phoebe Tonkin, and Cariba Heine as they played one of TV’s most bewitching, mer-mazing trios in their earliest roles. In this coming-of-age story, Emma, Cleo, and Rikki attempt to survive school while simultaneously hiding their shared secret from the rest of the world.
The true definition of a comfort show, the bubbly H2O: Just Add Water delivers just what it promises: a generous amount of beautiful Australian beach landscapes, teenage drama, and a fun time in front of the screen. Much like Aquamarine, the series is the perfect guilty pleasure for teens and romantics alike.
6‘The Little Mermaid’ (2023)
As it would seem, this year’s anticipated new Disney live-action remake did not disappoint, ranking high among the category’s best. Adapted from the movie of the same name, The Little Mermaid impresses many viewers so far.
One of the film’s strongest aspects is the stunning and wildly talented Halle Bailey’s performance as the beloved Ariel, whose chemistry with co-star Jonah Hauer-King was completely off the charts. On top of this, the film maintains the animated classic’s magic while also giving itself room to develop its own distinctive style.
The first installment to an unconventional double feature, Ken Annakin’s 1948 fantasy drama Miranda follows Dr. Paul Martin (Griffith Jones) as he is out fishing alone and gets abducted by Miranda (Glynis Johns), a stunning and terribly lonely mermaid. Miranda eventually releases Paul, but not before he promises to show her the city of London for a month.
A delightful and fun watch, Miranda is an excellent pick for everyone who enjoys mermaid-related content and fantasy involving comedic elements; it is definitely a memorable watch with a charming premise that will likely linger in the audience’s minds.
It is no surprise that this animated gem directed and written by the iconic Hayao Miyazaki — which also features a fishy narrative following a young goldfish princess named Ponyo and her human love interest — drew inspiration from The Little Mermaid.
Ponyo is marvelous, and part of what makes it stand out is its beautiful writing and, like many other Studio Ghibli features, stunning visuals. While it is arguably not Miyazaki’s finest work, the 2008 film is nevertheless an absorbing fairy tale that will leave every member of the audience smitten.
3‘Mad About Men’ (1954)
The compelling second entry to the Miranda double feature, Mad About Men centers around the flirtatious titular protagonist as she now swaps places with a teacher who has gone on vacation. Ultimately, this leads the character to fall for a human.
Fortunately for viewers, the comedy and fun keep going in this well-made campy fantasy sequel (that is perhaps even more enjoyable than its predecessor). Plus, what is not to love about Glynis Johns as a mermaid?
Released under Disney’s Touchstone banner, Ron Howard’s romantic comedy fantasy stars Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. It’s a simple but finely executed story about a young man who falls for a mermaid who rescued him as a boy.
Fueled by charming performances and a screenplay that’s downright excellent (garnering an Academy Award nomination), Splash is not only one of the best mermaid movies ever, it’s one of the best romantic comedies of the 1980s.
1‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989)
Needless to say, the original The Little Mermaid obviously has to take a spot on the list. A classic through and through, the Ron Clements and John Musker film made many viewers fall head over heels for the charming protagonist, her relationship with Prince Eric, and the many memorable characters that inhabit Ariel’s world.
It is evident that The Little Mermaid remains a relevant Disney film today; proof of that is the just-mentioned remake. It also features great animation, an amazing score, and glowing reviews from universal audiences.