Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Mermaid's Ennui

French Mermaids have it tough.
So, Simon was humming the Little Mermaid. More specifically, Part of Your World. I will allow a moment for all who remember his hard-rocking, head-banging days to fall from their chairs, pick themselves up again, shake a fist to the Heavens crying out “why, oh why?” or “et tu, Brute” then resume reading.

Back? Excellent.

This melodious interval led to a fun little game of French v. English, the Disney songs round (it always does. We are the definition of cool.) Which then made us realise that the French translations of Disney songs are incredibly more high-brow than the originals. Case in point:

Original English:

Look at this stuff
Isn't it neat?
Wouldn't you think my collection's complete?
Wouldn't you think I'm the girl
The girl who has ev'rything?

Direct Translation of the French:

All these secrets
I kept to myself
Do you not think that the fairies have fulfilled my every wish?
Do you not think that Life
has spoilt me too much?

Or my personal favourite:

Original English:

But who cares?
No big deal,
I want more!

Direct Translation of the French:

But all this
Leaves me indifferent
And full of ennui

 Clearly, French Ariel has weighed her social position as a privileged mer-princess, she is aware that this is undeserved (she refers to “fairies” and an embodiment of Life, outside agents akin to the Fate of the Greeks). Her double-dealings with her father are also at the forefront of her mind, she talks of “secrets” rather than “stuff”.
Even more striking is the comment on consumerism implied by her pathological hoarding of human paraphernalia: whilst English-speaking Ariel dismisses the objects themselves as not good enough, French Ariel is more self-aware, she puzzles at her lack of reaction. The consumerist mind-set tells her she should be satisfied, and yet, a true 20th century heroin, Ariel has to come to terms with the fact that she cannot fulfill the yearnings of her heart with stuff. 
The struggle is real, people.

And it’s not just Ariel.

Elsa is still wracked by guilt and not as self-assured:

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door

Liberated, unburdened
I shall never lie again
Liberated, unburdened
It’s decided, I shall leave

Belle is a true poet (and a smidge less judgmental although she still wants to “live something other than this life”):

Little town
It's a quiet village
Ev'ry day
Like the one before
Little town
Full of little people
Waking up to say

Prim and proper town
On its little cloud
Where the days
Remain immobile
Where people
From early morning, chatter
About this or that

French Disney Princesses, they are DEEP , man.


  1. Autant je trouve la traduction d'Ariel pas mauvaise du tout en français. Autant celle de la reine des neiges est très mauvaise, il n'y a plus du tout l'esprit de départ ou elle devient un peu bad ass.... (Oui oui on trouve toujours le temps de remarquer et de faire des recherches sur ce genre de thème

    1. Je suis bien d'accord. Pocahontas aussi est completement ratée.
      J'ai une copine qui m'a envoyé ce lien sur le meme sujet, ca m'a bien fait rire: