Screen Sirens

The Magical Mermaid Caught on Film

What better way to get in touch with one's inner mermaid, than to study one in motion, in a motion picture? For those of you who are more recently familiar with the scary mermaids in Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire, or a certain Disney character

The Mermaid by Georges Melies (1904)

This charming three-minute silent film by Georges Méliès is likely man's first attempt to bring mermaids to the silver screen, but certainly not his last!

Note: The beginning is slow, so skip ahead to the 2:30 mark if you are in a hurry to see the mermaid appear.

You can read more about this film, now in the public domain, or download your own copy at archive.org

Merilla, Queen of the Sea 1918
Merilla Queen of the Sea

Annette Kellerman

Sadly, this silent film is presumed lost, however you can see some brief clips from someof Annette's other films on youtube.

Mr Peabody & the Mermaid 1948
Ann Blyth

This one looks like a lot of fun, another on my "must see" list. Fiftyish man in midst of mid-life crisis discovers a mermaid; love and complications follow. Starring the lovely Ann Blyth opposite William Powell.

 

Miranda 1948
Miranda the Film

Glynis Johns stars as the lovely mermaid. You may remember her as the suffragette mom in Mary Poppins, or else as the cheery grandmother in While You Were Sleeping, a few years back. The movie follows what seems to be a common theme among mermaid films: Mermaid is found, brought home, and life gets messy, hiding her from the neighbors. I haven't seen this one, but it sounds delightful.

Hans Christian Andersen 1953
The Little Mermaid

Featuring The Little Mermaid

Danny Kaye stars as Hans Christian Andersen, author of many fairytales, including the sad but beautiful story of The Little Mermaid. Within the film you see an abbreviated versionof the ballet based on this tale, with enchanting scenery, costumes, dancing and music.

You can watch the whole film for free online at hulu.

Million Dollar Mermaid 1952
Actress Esther Williams

In Million Dollar Mermaid, Esther Williams, the undisputed queen of "aquamusicals" plays Annette Kellerman, the Australian swimmer who starred in a number of water-themed films of the silent era, and who was also the first woman to attempt to swim the English Channel.

If you've never seen Esther in action, here's a brief sampling of some of her stunning waterwork on youtube.

Splash 1984
Splash DVD image

Splash is a light romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. It may not make many top ten lists, but it's still worth an eye if you enjoy mermaid tales, and being transported back to a simpler time (the mid 1980s). Plus, if you are a Daryl Hannah fan, you are guaranteed to see a lot of her in this film!

The Secret of Roan Inish 1994
Roan Inish Film poster from Wikipedia

The Secret of Roan Inish is not about a mermaid, per se, but about the mythological selkie, a seal who can turn herself into a human. Directed by independent filmmaker John Sayles, and set in a misty fishing village on the western coast of Ireland.

I saw this movie with a Pisces pal back in NYC when it first came out, and we both enjoyed it thoroughly. I don't remember it as being very fast-moving, but it provided a delightful refuge from the busy, noisy city for a few hours. Click the image at right to visit The Secret of Roan Inish on IMBD, or here to check it out on Amazon.

 

Aquamarine 2006
Aquamarine DVD image

Aquamarine is a sweet, end-of-summer, coming-of-age preteen chick flick, but one I think a Pisces of any age would enjoy. A story of love and friendship between 3 teen girls, one of which happens to be a mermaid who needs help and has the power to grant a wish in return.

Starring a younger, geekier Emma Roberts, Joanna 'JoJo' Levesque as her best friend, and Sarah Paxton as "Aquamarine." Click the image at right to visit Aquamarine on IMBD, or here to check it out on Amazon.

 

Ondine 2009
Ondine poster image

Ondine comes highly recommended by my older & wiser sister, who has yet to steer me wrong about anything. So it's now on my "hurry up and see" list.

I'm not sure why this film wasn't on my radar earlier than this; it sounds wonderful. Like The Secret of Roan Inish, it is set in Ireland and involves selkies, and features Colin Farrell as the fisherman who catches something mysterious and intriguing in his net.

Ondine is directed by the acclaimed Neil Jordan, who is himself a Pisces (born on February 25th) — which bodes well for his having gotten the atmosphere and details right.

Click the image at right to visit Ondine on IMBD, or here to check it out on Amazon.