Aladdin

March 28, 2013 | By | Add a Comment

We’ve come to the sixth member in our Princess Diary series. Aladdin came out in 1992 – three years after The Little Mermaid and one year after Beauty and the Beast. Let’s take a ride on that magic carpet. 

Jasmine1:30 – This movie opens with a sinister looking man singing “Arabian Nights”. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but I don’t think this guy would even make it past the first round of American Idol.

2:05 – Sinister man mentions something about a city of mystery and enchantment and then tries to sell a coffee maker that doubles as a… hookah!

2:42 – Sinister salesman references a genie lamp and tells us that it isn’t what is on the outside but on the inside that counts. Sure. Buy his products and what will be on the inside is caffeine addiction and lung cancer.

3:03 – Sinister man tells of a tale beginning with a “dark night, where a dark man waits with a dark voice.” I think it is only fitting that I eat some dark chocolate.

3:13 – First glimpse of the movie’s villain and it a dude. Stepmothers around the world rejoice.

5:56 – Villain man finds a “Cave of Wonders”, which I think just ate somebody.

6:29 – Apparently only a “diamond in the rough” can enter the “Cave of Wonders”. Such a mysterious movie we have going here.

6:48 – Enter Aladdin, who we find stealing a loaf of bread! At least he wasn’t stealing the combo coffee-hookah machine.

8:41 – Aladdin only steals what he can’t afford, which is everything. Meanwhile, a monkey friend named Abu helps Aladdin escape mean looking dudes who have swords, knives and watermelons. Not sure if the punishment fits the crime on this one. At this point, a rather large lady mentions that Aladdin is “rather tasty”. Huh? Does she want to practice cannibalism? We’re not even 9 minutes in and I already have no idea what is going on.

9:11 – They play the same song the girl in the library sang for me when I tried to check out these movie. She even did some hand gestures.

10:43 – Aladdin gives the bread he stole to hungry children. Then, Aladdin saves a child from being whipped by an evil suitor. So far we’ve met:

Evil merchant singer guy
Evil villain
Angry men with swords, knives and watermelons
Evil suitor

The men in this movie could use a hug or father figure or something. Actually, the guy without parents (ALADDIN) and only one friend (Abu) is the nicest of them all.

11:08 – After being called “Riffraff”, “Street Rat” and “Scoundrel”, evil suitor says to Aladdin, “You are a worthless street rat. You were born a street rat. You will die a street rat and only your flees will mourn you.” With enemies like that, who needs friends?

11:41 – We come to Aladdin’s “I Want” song. I learned about the “I Want” song after reading about “Part of Your World” on Wikipedia. Here is what it said:

Believing that, in a musical, it is necessary for the heroine to at some point sing about her goals and what she hopes to achieve in life, (Howard) Ashman wrote the lyrics for “Part of Your World”, which he referred to as the film’s “I Want” song”.

12:42 – Jasmine arrives on the scene. True to princess form, the first time we see her is with some animals – including a pet tiger named Rajah. While Disney still can’t disrupt the animal to princess connection, they’ve come a long way from bunnies and hummingbirds.

13:06 – According to the law, Jasmine must be married to a prince by her birthday and only has 3 more days. The problem is that all the suitors have been “self-absorbed” and “overdressed”. I get the first part, but is being overdressed really that big of an issue? Has a woman ever rejected a guy for dressing too nice?

13:09 – Jasmine PETS A BIRD while stating how she hates being forced into marriage, thus removing any doubt as to whether she belongs on the list of official Disney princesses.

13:35 – Father mentions that he isn’t going to be around forever and wants to make sure Jasmine is taken care of and provided for. The big issue here: Father TAKES THE BIRD out of Jasmine’s hand and PUTS IT BACK IN A CAGE. What self-respecting princess relative takes a bird out of the hands of Disney princess?

Jasmine_and_the_Sultan_with_Rajah_2

13:42 – Jasmine is miserable. She’s never done anything on her own or had any real friends. She says this while she is PETTING FISH IN A POND.  She then mentions “except you” to her pet tiger. Phew! Have to be real clear here – just because the princess wants friends, it does not mean she doesn’t love her animals.

13:48 – Jasmine also states that she has never even been outside the palace walls. Talk about overprotective parenting! Doesn’t her father know that one of the biggest needs for Disney princesses is adventure? Let’s recap:

Sleeping Beauty – Cooped up in a secluded house with her fairy mother maids
Cinderella – Can’t go out because of her endless list of chores
Ariel – Lost at sea
Belle – Imprisoned in her provincial life.
Snow White – (Thinking…) Actually, from what I recall Snow White just seemed to wander around in the forest. Now there was a princess who couldn’t be tied down.

13:52 – Fed up, Jasmine stammers “Maybe I just don’t want to be a princess anymore!” Whoa! Slow down Jasmine. Millions of girls want to be like you. Now, you want to be like the millions of girls? It’s like Ariel, who wants to be a regular girl while millions of regular girls around the world want to mermaids. Meanwhile, as Jasmine considers how it might not be such a bad thing to be poor, Aladdin wants to be rich. Isn’t anybody happy with what they have or who they are?

14:11 – Jasmine’s father vents his frustrations to Rajah about how hard it is to raise daughters. Maybe he should get together with King Triton and form a support group. Meanwhile Jasmine, with a devious and slightly deranged look on her face, LETS OUT ALL THE BIRDS FROM THE CAGE. Take that Daddy!

19:24 – After running away, Jasmine takes an apple and gives it to a poor child. In response, the merchant tries to slice of Jasmine’s arm! Thankfully, Aladdin comes to the rescue. Goodness me. Is that really cause for getting your arm hacked off? Whatever crime you commit in this town, just make sure it doesn’t involve stealing food.

21:43 – Jasmine and Aladdin do some bonding. Aladdin wonders what it would be like to live in the palace, not also be scraping for food and have servants and valets. Jasmine wants to be free from all these aggressive men who look like a Men’s Wearhouse advertisement.

26:30 – Jafar comes between the love that is building between Aladdin and Jasmine. For an alleged kidnapping, Aladdin is given the sentence of “death by beheading”. Is any crime not given the death sentence in this town? Now, like Snow White and Cinderella before her, we have another sobbing princess. I can’t remember if Ariel shed tears, but do remember her having a full-fledged meltdown.

abu-0132:13 – Aladdin, who we now know is the “diamond in the rough” is tricked into finding the genie lamp for Jafar. Abu is stalked and terrorized by a magic carpet. They are all almost killed by a tidal wave of lava. All this takes place in the Cave of Wonders, whose name continues to not disappoint.

35:50 – Jafar’s plan to get the lamp is foiled by Abu. Now, Aladdin has three friends: a kleptomaniac monkey, shapeshifting spirit and magical rug.

36:58 – Aladdin is given 3 wishes from Genie man. Other than not being about to wish for more than 3 wishes, Genie has some rules:

1)      You can’t kill anybody
2)      You can’t make anybody fall in love
3)      You can’t bring people back from the dead

The first wish would obviously be that the Genie loosen up on his terms of service.

45:23 – Aladdin describes what he likes about Jasmine. She is smart and fun and beautiful and he likes her eyes, hair and smile. I’m tracking with Aladdin until he gets to her hair. Unless her hair were missing or some color of the rainbow, I don’t think it would be so high on my list.

58:36 – After some missteps in his attempt to woo Jasmine, Aladdin offers her the chance to leave the palace and see the world. You know what that means, don’t you? That’s right, one of the best Disney songs of all time.

61:56 – Aladdin and Jasmine share one of the longest kisses in princess history. Normally I would say they are moving too fast, but they did have quite a night with the floating carpet ride through the city and all. Beautiful song. Major kiss (all Disney princess movies end with a kiss). Where can this movie go from here? I think it should just end.

Aladdin_Jasmine

 I’ve included my thoughts on the rest of the movie below.  

Closing Thoughts:
When I asked my friends to name their favorite Disney princess movies, one of them immediately crossed off Aladdin. When I asked why, she said it was because the movie was about the prince and not the princess. But that is also what makes this movie special compared to the others so far (save Beauty and the Beast). To this point, we’ve mainly only had a princess going through trials before finding their already perfect prince.

Family Background:
Like others before them, Aladdin and Jasmine come from incomplete families. We don’t know what happened to Jasmine’s mother, but do know that her father is very protective of her, perhaps too protective.

Aladdin’s issues are of an entirely different nature – he has no parents at all. Aladdin longs for a life more like Jasmine’s. He wonders what it would be like to live in a palace, not needing to always scrape for food and having servants and valets. If he were rich and lived in palace, he wouldn’t been seen as a worthless boy.

The only thing Jasmine and Aladdin have in common is that they both feel trapped. Still, they can learn from each other. Jasmine knows Aladdin is mistaken when he believes that being rich would solve all his problems. Aladdin knows not to take for granted all the luxuries that come with wealth.

Jasmine’s Conflict:
Jasmine’s character is fairly consistent. She has had enough with “stuff shirt swaggering peacocks” who have an inflated sense of their own worth and only want to marry her for her money or fame. (The very type of person Aladdin believes he needs to become to win Jasmine.) She has no control over where she goes, what she wears or who she marries. It is enough to make Jasmine wish she were never a princess in the first place. Jasmine sighs, “I can’t stay here and have my life lived for me.” In her case, running away from her problems are actually a legitimate way of solving them. “A Whole New World” makes perfect sense in its context. Given how badly she wants to see the world, it is no surprise how her bond with Aladdin is solidified after the magic carpet ride.

I found myself liking Jasmine more than I thought I would. She’s is strong-willed, but that will is for what is right and true. She is not afraid to stand up to Jafar or her father and does so for good reasons. Like Belle before her, she is able to look past external appearances. While her father looks for safety and Jafar for power, she looks for kindness and goodness and finds it in Aladdin. If anyone is able to spot the “diamond in the rough” in this movie, it is her.

Aladdin’s Conflict:
While Jasmine’s struggles are more with her external environment, Aladdin is fighting an internal war. He is given the identify of riffraff, street rat and scoundrel. In the beginning, he fights back, declaring, “I’m not worthless and I don’t have flees” He will not accept the identity others have chosen for him and laments that if only they would look closer they would see more to him than just poverty. Despite his bravado and resistance, it is clear that these labels eventually find their way into his heart.

Though Jasmine already loves him for he who is, Aladdin believes that he was a fool for thinking a princess could ever love him and that if she were to find out he is a “crumby street rat”, she’d laugh at him. Thinking it to be the way to Jasmine’s heart, he tries to be “smooth, cool and confident”. When Genie tells Aladdin to just be himself, he counters “that is the last thing I want to be”. Because his true self is not good enough, he needs to create a fake one. Even if Jasmine were to want to marry him, he believes that she deserves better than anything he has to offer.

As their magic ride concludes, Jasmine calls Aladdin “handsome” and a “prince”. This is no doubt the most affirmation he has ever received in his life. The thought of losing this affirmation makes his decision to open up about his true background that much more difficult. In his mind, there is no way Jasmine could continue to care about him if she knew the truth. For now, the object of his affection loves him back. In a land with genies and treasuries and magic carpet, this is no doubt the greatest wonder of them all.

As their wonderful carpet ride concludes, Aladdin continues to pretend to be something he’s not. Jasmine asks Aladdin, “Who are you? Tell me the truth”. It’s not an easy question to answer. Is he a street rat? Is he truly a prince thanks to the wish Genie granted?  Though Aladdin isn’t forthcoming with Jasmine, a major part of the problem is that he doesn’t even know the answer himself.

Aladdin’s cognitive dissonance reaches a climax when Jasmine’s father praises Aladdin for his upstanding moral character. He decides that he has to come clean. Before he can do so, Jafar exposes him to be a liar, con and fraud. Even Genie, who is essentially Aladdin’s father figure at this point, confronts him for not keeping his promises.

Aladdin is able to save the princess from Jafar’s evil advances. Next, he has the even more difficult task of facing the junk that has formed in his own heart. As his secret is revealed, Aladdin apologizes to Jasmine about lying about being a prince. For her part, Jasmine is quick to forgive and very understanding, stating she understands why he lied about being a prince. Jasmine even tells Aladdin that she loves him – something he possibly never heard in his entire life.

Unfortunately, Aladdin can’t marry the princess because he is no longer a prince and promised he would use his last wish for the benefit of the Genie. Whereas earlier he selfishly didn’t keep his promise, now he does so at a great cost. However, after having proved himself to be worthy, the law is revised and Jasmine is free to marry Aladdin, even though he isn’t technically a prince. Jasmine and Genie get their freedom and Jasmine and Aladdin find love.

More on Identity:
Given how so much of the movie revolves around Aladdin finding his identity, I thought I would share one of my favorite quotes and songs on the topic.

I have come to believe that by and large the human family all has the same secrets, which are both very telling and very important to tell. They are telling in the sense that they tell what is perhaps the central paradox of our condition – that what we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else.  It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are – even if we only tell it to ourselves – because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier that way to see where we have been in our lives and where we are going. It also makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own, and exchanges like that have a lot to do with what being a family is all about and what being human is all about. Finally, I suspect that it is by entering that deep place inside us where our secrets are kept that we come perhaps closer than we do anywhere else to the One who, whether we realize it or not, is of all our secrets the most telling and the most precious we have to tell.

Frederick Buechner

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Category: Princess Diaries

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