There have been many films that feature mermaids over the past 100 years. Here are seven of my favorites and a video clip from each.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
I have to start with Disney's The Little Mermaid. Even though it's an animated feature and Disney completely changed the ending of the original Hans Christian Anderson tale, it's a beautiful film and the songs are catchy as only Howard Ashman and Alan Menken songs can be.
The post- war world seemed to have a sudden love affair with mermaids. And Miranda starring Glynnis Johns, who later appeared in Mary Poppins, takes a charming turn as a mermaid all the men fall for in this twist on the classic drawing room comedy. In this clip Miranda is brought to visit the seals at the London Zoo by an admirer.
Mr Peabody and the Mermaid (1948)
Another post-war treatment of mermaids. This time Mr. Peabody, played by William Powell, works through his mid-life issues in his romantic and whimsical relationship with a mermaid, played by Ann Blyth. This clip shows her swimming in Mr. Peabody's pond. This clip is colorized, the original film is black and white.
Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah's charm and chemistry make Splash a romantic comedy worth watching and elevate it to a classic that rises above its 1980's setting.
The Secret of the Roan Inish (1994)
While not strictly about mermaids, half woman, half fish, The Secret of the Roan Inish by John Sayles addresses the Irish equivilent with a beautiful and haunting story about selkies, the Irish sea-spirits who can change from seals to humans.
A more recent Irish film that plays with the selkie legends. A mysterious and beautiful woman turns up in fisherman Colin Farrell's nets. Is she really a selkie or is something else going on?
La Sirene by George Melies (1904)
This last clip is from the the short silent film La Sirene by pioneer filmmaker George Melies and is probably the first film to be made about a mermaid. In the film, a magician performs his routine, fishing out of his top hat and finally transforming the normal world to the undersea world. My favorite shot is the first one of the mermaid, through the fish tank.