The Initial Release (1992)
Like most Disney princess generation movies they started as folklore stories. Aladdin is no different. This tale originated in the Middle East and was only one tale from The Book Of One Thousand and One Nights. It wasn’t part of the original book but was added into the collection by author Antoine Galland, who was responsible for translating the original book into french. A task that started in 1704.
From then on the tale of Aladdin is retold in numerous ways but the most well know dramatization of the Aladdin tale is the 1992 animated feature by Walt Disney Feature Animation. Of course since it is a Disney adaptation, details were changed. Like Princess Jasmine, who was originally called Princess Badroulbadour, Jafar, who was not the sorcerer, magic carpet, who was originally a magic ring that held a lesser genie and the setting is moved from China to a fictional city named Agrabah. The 1992 version was the 32nd animated feature by Disney and was received warmly by critics and got positive reviews.
It wasn’t easy for the idea of Aladdin to take off though. It took 3 drafts before the Disney president at the time, Jeffrey Katzenberg, let it go ahead. The animation was created drawing influence from the works of Al Hirshfeld, although the coloring and some of the other animated aspects were done using computers. The musical score was written by none other that Alan Menken. If there is anything that adds to this movie it was the soundtrack. Everything was wonderfully-paced and that is what made me fall in love with the story. That and the message it represented.
My Experience (1992 – 2014)
Unfortunately I have not read any of the original Aladdin stories like I have for other folklore inspired movies to make a decent comparison but Aladdin, I believe, is strong enough to stand on its own two feet. I had watched it for years before I actually understood the message. Considering I was born a mere year before the November 25 1992 release, it took me until I was about 6 to fully understand the meaning of the story. I could sing every song, quote every line but when I finally understood the message, I started to see this enjoyable movie in a new light.
Aladdin is an orphaned street rat who’s only true friend is his pet monkey Abu. Your first glimpse into Aladdin’s life makes him look like a good for nothing street rat within the first 10 minutes but as his debut musical number comes to a close you see that appearances can be deceiving and that he actually isn’t what they make him look like. Unfortunately for Aladdin he can’t escape his daily life, he steals to survive day-to-day although if he had a choice he wouldn’t. His ideal escape would be living in the Sultan’s Palace, where he thinks he would be free to do whatever and be whoever he wants. Which leads us the life of Princess Jasmine, who lives in the royal palace. Being forced to marry before her next birthday is not how she envisioned her teen life. Her palace life doesn’t leave her free to make her own choices, her own mistakes and she desperately wants to get out.
Surprisingly (if you’re watching it for the first time) their lives cross and from then on they are joined together by that magical force that is the The ever impressive… The long-contained… … The often imitated but never duplicated… duplicated… duplicated… duplicated… Genie of the Lamp!
I won’t go into anymore detail about the plot so I can leave the magic to those who still haven’t experienced it yet. There is so much in the movie that both the young and old can enjoy.
Both lives of Aladdin and Jasmine are relate-able, especially as a teenager. The angst that comes with not being able to be yourself is one that spoke volumes to me and still does in a certain way. Things haven’t changed much in regards to being treated like what you look like. This movie takes stereotyping and flips it on its head. On the one hand you have a street rat who has a heart of gold and on the other hand you have the pretty princess who just wants to think for herself , make her own choices and not be treated like a princess. Most of the people I know can relate with that feeling of being pigeon-holed and that is the true magic in this movie. Although this message is one of the main points in this story there is also the humor.
The humor in this movie is what, in my opinion, makes it. There are laughs upon laughs and those laughs are all carried by the Genie, played by Robin Williams. With his sad passing this week the feelings have come flooding back about what he taught people. He taught some of us that humour has a place almost anywhere, that love has no boundaries and that friendships are something so special that it’s almost like magic. The genie in this movie was the friend we wish we all had, that friend who will stick with you even if they know you are making a bad decision, cover you when things get tough and, of course, cheer for you when you are fighting the bad guy.
The Genie as well as Aladdin and Jasmine craves freedom, he wants to be who he is without having to be at the beck and call of his “Master”. Sounds completely relate-able if you ask me. Who doesn’t want to call the shots in their own life? Who doesn’t want to reach their full potential? Who isn’t willing to help friends on their en devours even if it might jeopardize your chances at success?
Aladdin is a movie I will always recommend to people to watch both young and old when they are in need of something enjoyable with meaning. I will love this movie for many more years to come and I don’t see why I wouldn’t. It grew up with me, it helped me learn about myself and it’s taught me valuable life lessons that I will use for rest of my life.
If you’re feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts, or think a loved one is, please do not hesitate to contact a local organization such as Pieta House, or the Samaritans, who offer 24 hours a day emotional support for those who need it. You’re not alone.
R.I.P Robin Williams, 1951 – 2014