The Whole World in a Song

Disney has produced many memorable songs for its animated films, but three of them share a connection through their attachment to how the heroine or hero sees the world.

Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid (1989))

I wanna be where the people are…

She just wants to be with him. Now and forever. But she is a mermaid, and he is a human. Ariel reprises this song after she rescues Eric, a human prince with whom she has fallen in love, from drowning. The youngest, favored daughter of Tritan, the king of the sea, you may think she’s got everything, but who cares? No big deal. She wants more

See ‘em dancin’, walkin’ around on feet cause legs are required for jumpin’, dancin’, strollin’ along down a street… Ariel wants to be human. This is the great dream of the little mermaid. The music of her heart calls her higher and higher. Wouldn’t I love to explore that shore up above? Out of the sea; wish I could be part of that world. ‘That world’ means not hers. From this song we find out Ariel is different from her sisters. Despite having an underwater kingdom at her fingertips, she wants more, a different life on land. What would I give if I could live outta these waters? The song represents Ariel’s thoughts and feelings as a mermaid. In this context, the viewer can see the song as a hymn of finding and discovering yourself in the world, no matter what kind of world it is, water or earth. Everyone will find his place in the circle of life. Like Ariel and Eric, who became the part of each other’s worlds…

A Whole New World (Aladdin (1992))

A new fantastic point of view

What if you could find a new, fantastic world? Your world. A world where everything is perfect. A world with a “prince” (let’s call him Aladdin), a genie who fulfills three wishes, and a magic carpet. This shining, shimmering, splendid world lies at your feet (literally). And the charming prince sings only for you… I can open your eyes, take you wonder by wonder over, sideways and under on a magic carpet ride.

Everything comes true in a single romantic flight around the world. It shows Princess Jasmine a life of freedom and true love. It’s a dazzling place you never knew, cause we, ordinary people, can’t fly on the carpet (at least not every day). Jasmine’s travel across the skies seems like a beautiful dream. Unbelievable sights, indescribable feeling, soaring, tumbling, freewheeling through an endless diamond sky. But the viewer can also see Jasmine’s flight as a part of growing up, a symbolic image of a chick leaving its nest… in her case, the palace of Agrabah. In this context, all these new horizons to pursue, a thrilling chase, a wondrous place, are not just exotic discoveries for our princess, but a conscious search for a new life and a place in it. A place where lives your prince ready to share with you a whole new world and with whom every turn is a sweet surprise…

Colors of the wind (Pocahontas (1995))

Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?

So you traveled to a whole new world, became a part of it, and discovered a new territory. What do you do next? If you’re like Captain John Smith, with all his talk of adventure, finding gold, fighting ‘Injuns’ and settling in the new land, you might assume not much. But then John departs to explore the wilderness and encounters Pocahontas. The daughter of the Native American paramount chief of the Powhatan tribe shows him the right way, cause you think you own whatever land you land on, the earth is just a dead thing you can claim, but I know every rock and tree and creature has a life, has a spirit has a name.

John Smith discovers a “new world” with Pocahontas, who runs the hidden pine trails of the forest, tastes the sun-sweet berries of the earth, rolls in the riches all around. This song is not just about opening new horizons, but about animism and respecting nature. Critics have compared it to transcendentalist literature and New Age spirituality. This “new world” can hear, breathe, feel, and paint alongside its human inhabitants. The main thing it offers is to care for and respect your roots. Our heroes quickly bond, become fascinated by each other’s worlds, and end up falling in love.

The moral of this tale is… open yourself to the world and it will reveal its secrets to you. Maybe you will even find happiness. Learn to paint with all the colors of the wind and find true love…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianna Kaplun was born in Moscow. She is candidate of philological sciences specializing in the first Russian drama and theatre of XVIIth century. She’s also a film and TV critic. You can find her essays on her Lumiere page and on her blog.

2 thoughts on “The Whole World in a Song

Add yours

  1. Loved your thoughts on Colours of the Wind and A Whole New World.

    Especially the part about Jasmine’s growing up.

    At the moment I am reading THE SEVEN BASIC PLOTS by Colin Booker and I have also read a book /essay about Russian film culture.

    Liked by 1 person

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