Aladdin (1992 Disney film)
Original theatrical poster; art by John Alvin
|Directed by||Ron Clements
|Produced by||Ron Clements
|Written by||Ron Clements
|Music by||Alan Menken|
|Edited by||Mark A. Hester
H. Lee Peterson
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$504 million|
Aladdin is a 1992 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Aladdin is the 31st animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, and was part of the Disney film era known as the Disney Renaissance. The film was directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, and is based on the Arab folktale of Aladdin and the magic lamp from One Thousand and One Nights. The voice cast features Scott Weinger, Jonathan Freeman, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Frank Welker, Gilbert Gottfried, and Douglas Seale.
Lyricist Howard Ashman first pitched the idea, and the screenplay went through three drafts before Disney president Jeffrey Katzenberg agreed to its production. The animators based their designs on the work of caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, and computers were used for both colouring and creating some animated elements. The musical score was written by Alan Menken and features six songs with lyrics written by both Ashman and Tim Rice, who took over after Ashman's death.
Aladdin was released on November 25, 1992, to positive reviews and was the most successful film of 1992, earning over $217 million in revenue in the United States, and over $504 million worldwide. The film also won many awards, most of them for its soundtrack. Aladdin 's success led to other material inspired by the film, including two direct-to-video sequels, The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves; an animated television series; toys, video games, spin-offs, and Disney merchandise. A Broadway adaptation debuted in 2014.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast and characters
- 3 Production
- 4 Themes
- 5 Release and reception
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The film opens with Jafar, Grand Vizier to the Sultan of the fictional sultanate of Agrabah, attempting to retrieve a magical oil lamp containing a genie from the Cave of Wonders. He enlists a petty thief to enter the cave and retrieve it, whose attempt fails. Jafar and his parrot assistant, Iago, learn that only a "Diamond in the Rough" can enter the cave. Meanwhile, Jasmine, the Sultan's daughter, frustrated with her life in the palace, flees to Agrabah's marketplace. There she meets street rat Aladdin and his monkey pet, Abu, and the two begin to form a friendship. After Aladdin is arrested by orders of Jafar, Jasmine orders Jafar to have him released. Jafar lies to her that Aladdin was already executed, leaving Jasmine heartbroken.
Jafar, disguised as an elderly man, releases Aladdin and Abu from the dungeon and leads them to the Cave of Wonders, promising a reward in return for retrieving the lamp. The cave allows them to enter but instructs them to touch nothing but the lamp. Aladdin and Abu find a magic carpet. Aladdin obtains the lamp but Abu's attempt to steal a gem backfires and causes the cave to collapse. The carpet flies them back to the entrance and Aladdin delivers the lamp to Jafar, who then tries to kill him. Abu then thwarts Jafar and steals back the lamp as he, the carpet, and Aladdin fall back into the cave just as it closes.
In the collapsed cave, Aladdin rubs the lamp, inadvertently unleashing Genie, who reveals he will grant Aladdin three wishes with the exception of murder, romance, revival of the dead or additional wishes. Aladdin tricks the genie into magically freeing himself, Abu, and the carpet from the cave without actually using a wish; thereafter, Genie states that Aladdin will not receive anymore magic help unless he explicitly states "I wish". While contemplating his wishes, Genie admits he would wish for freedom, since he is a prisoner to his lamp. Aladdin promises to free Genie as his last wish. Aladdin decides to use his first wish to become a prince in order to be legally able to court Jasmine.
Meanwhile, Jafar attempts to mind control the Sultan into arranging a marriage between himself and Jasmine in order to become Sultan himself. Before he is able to succeed, Aladdin appears and parades into the Sultan's palace as "Prince Ali of Ababwa". Sultan is impressed but Jasmine rejects Ali as a suitor. Despite the Genie's suggestion that Aladdin to tell the princess who he really is, Aladdin keeps up his act as a suave prince and takes Jasmine around the world on the magic carpet. Jasmine suspects that Ali is actually the man she met in the marketplace; during the trip, she tricks Aladdin into admitting it and demands the truth from him. Aladdin fabricates a story that he sometimes dresses as a commoner to escape palace life. The couple kisses as Aladdin returns her home.
Afterwards, Aladdin is kidnapped and thrown into the ocean by Jafar who makes a second attempt to arrange a marriage. Genie rescues Aladdin as his second wish; Aladdin returns to the palace and exposes Jafar's plot. Jafar flees after noticing the lamp in Aladdin's possession, realizing who Aladdin is. Aladdin has second thoughts about freeing Genie, believing that without him he is "just Aladdin". Iago steals the lamp and brings it to Jafar. Jafar becomes Genie's new master, using his first two wishes to usurp the Sultan's throne and become the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Using his new powers, Jafar enslaves Jasmine and the Sultan, exposes Aladdin as a street rat, then exiles him and Abu to a frozen wasteland.
Aladdin and Abu use the magic carpet to return to the palace, where Aladdin sneaks in to try and recapture the lamp. Jafar proposes using his third wish to make Jasmine his queen. Genie protests that he cannot grant that wish, but Jasmine decided to feign interest in Jafar, allowing Aladdin to try to grab the lamp. Aladdin gets caught and battles Jafar, who transforms himself into an enormous cobra and traps Aladdin. Jafar claims to be "the most powerful being on Earth", to which Aladdin argues that Genie is more powerful. Faced with this realization, Jafar uses his final wish to become a genie himself. However, he then discovers that genies are not free entities as he is sucked into a lamp of his own, dragging Iago with him. The Genie sends Jafar's lamp flying into the Cave of Wonders. Genie urges Aladdin that he should use his third wish to regain his princeship, warning Aladdin that he has never seen a woman like Jasmine, but Aladdin, realizing that he cannot keep pretending to be something he is not, decides to keep his promise and wish for Genie's freedom. Seeing Jasmine's love for Aladdin, the Sultan changes the law to allow her to marry whomever she deems worthy. The newly free Genie leaves to explore the world while Aladdin and Jasmine celebrate their engagement.
Cast and characters
- Scott Weinger as Aladdin: A poor, but kind-hearted Agrabah thief. Weinger sent in a homemade audition tape with his mother playing the Genie, and after several call backs he found six months later that he had the part. The character's singing voice was provided by Brad Kane, who also performed the character's speaking voice before Weinger was cast. Aladdin's supervising animator was by Glen Keane.
- Robin Williams as The Genie: A comedic genie, with nigh omnipotent power that can only be exercised when his master wishes it. Clements and Musker wrote the part of the Genie for Williams, and, when met with resistance, created a reel of Williams' stand-up to animation of the Genie. When Williams watched the video, he "laughed his ass off" and agreed to do the project. The Genie's supervising animator was Eric Goldberg. Williams' appearance in Aladdin (despite his appearance along with Christian Slater and Tim Curry in the early 1992 animated film Fern Gully) marks the beginning of a transition in animated film to celebrity voice actors, rather than specifically trained voice actors in animated film. Williams provided many celebrity impressions during recording sessions, which were re-adapted into the fabric of the character. These included Ed Sullivan, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Groucho Marx, Rodney Dangerfield, William F. Buckley, Peter Lorre, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Arsenio Hall.
- Williams also voiced the Merchant, with Bruce Adler providing his singing voice.
- Jonathan Freeman as Jafar: The power-hungry Grand Vizier of Agrabah. Jafar was originally envisioned as an irritable character, but the directors decided that a calm villain would be scarier. Freeman was the first actor cast and spent one year and nine months recording his dialogue. He later readjusted his voice after Weinger and Larkin were cast as he felt "Jafar had to be seen as a real threat to Aladdin and Jasmine". Jafar's supervising animator was Andreas Deja, who tried to incorporate Freeman's facial expressions and gesturing into the character, while Jafar's beggar and snake forms are animated by Kathy Zielinski.
- Linda Larkin as Princess Jasmine: The princess of Agrabah, who is tired of life in the royal palace. Larkin was chosen nine months after her audition, and had to adjust her pitch to reach the voice the filmmakers were looking for the character. Lea Salonga, who was performing Miss Saigon on Broadway at the time, supplies the character's singing voice. Jasmine's supervising animator was Mark Henn.
- Frank Welker as Abu: Aladdin's kleptomaniac pet monkey with a high-pitched voice. The animators filmed monkeys at the San Francisco Zoo to study their movements for Abu's character. In the three years it took to record the film, Welker did not meet Weinger or Williams.
- Welker also voiced Jasmine's tiger Rajah and the Cave of Wonders. Duncan Marjoribanks was the supervising animator for Abu, while Rajah was animated by Aaron Blaise.
- Gilbert Gottfried as Iago: Jafar's sarcastic, foul-mouthed parrot assistant. Iago's supervising animator Will Finn tried to incorporate some aspects of Gottfried's appearance into Iago's design, especially his semi-closed eyes and the always-appearing teeth.
- Douglas Seale as The Sultan: The pompous, but kind ruler of Agrabah, who desperately tries to find a suitor for his daughter Jasmine. Some aspects of the character were inspired by the Wizard of Oz, to create a bumbling authority figure. The Sultan's supervising animator was David Pruiksma.
- Jim Cummings as Razoul: The Captain of the Guard. He was named after layout supervisor Rasoul Azadani. He and the other guards were animated by Phil Young and Chris Wahl.
- The Magic Carpet is a sentient carpet who is able to fly. Animator Randy Cartwright described working on the Carpet as challenging, since it is only a rectangular shape, who expresses himself through pantomime – "It's sort of like acting by origami". Cartwright kept folding a piece of cloth while animating to see how to position the Carpet. After the character animation was done, the carpet's surface design was applied digitally.
- Charlie Adler as Gazeem: A thief that Jafar sends into the Cave of Wonders at the beginning of the film but is trapped inside for being unworthy. Gazeem was animated by T. Daniel Hofstedt.
- Hal Smith has a small, uncredited role for doing the sounds of Jafar's horse, as he did Philippe in Beauty and the Beast.
Script and development
In 1988, lyricist Howard Ashman pitched to Disney the idea of an animated musical adaptation of Aladdin. After Ashman wrote some songs with partner Alan Menken and a film treatment, a screenplay was written by Linda Woolverton, who had worked on Beauty and the Beast. Then directors John Musker and Ron Clements joined the production, picking Aladdin out of three projects offered, which also included an adaptation of Swan Lake and King of the Jungle – that eventually became The Lion King.
Musker and Clements wrote a draft of the screenplay, and delivered it to studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg in 1991. Katzenberg thought the script "didn't engage", and on a day known by the staff as "Black Friday," demanded that the entire screenplay be rewritten without revising the November 25 release date. Katzenberg only approved it after the screenwriting duo Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio successfully rewrote it. Among the changes, the character of Aladdin's mother was removed, Princess Jasmine was made into a stronger character, Aladdin's personality was rewritten to be "a little rougher, like a young Harrison Ford," and the parrot Iago, originally conceived as a "British" calm and serious character, was reworked into a comic role after the filmmakers saw Gilbert Gottfried in Beverly Hills Cop II. Gottfried was cast to provide Iago's voice. Several characters and plot elements are also based on the 1940 version of The Thief of Bagdad, and many aspects of the traditional story were changed for the film – for instance, the setting is changed from "China" to a fictional Arabian city, Agrabah.
Design and animation
|“||In early screenings, we played with him being a little bit younger, and he had a mother in the story. [...] In design he became more athletic-looking, more filled out, more of a young leading man, more of a teen-hunk version than before.||”|
He was initially going to be as young as 13, but that eventually changed to eighteen. Aladdin was designed by a team led by supervising animator Glen Keane, and was originally made to resemble actor Michael J. Fox. During production, it was decided that the design was too boyish and wasn't "appealing enough," so the character was redesigned to add elements derived from actor Tom Cruise and Calvin Klein models.
The design for most characters was based on the work of caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, which production designer Richard Vander Wende also considered appropriate to the theme, due to similarities to the swooping lines of Persian miniatures and Arabic calligraphy. Jafar's design was not based on Hirschfeld's work because Jafar's supervising animator, Andreas Deja, wanted the character to be contrasting. Each character was animated alone, with the animators consulting each other to make scenes with interrelating characters. Since Aladdin's animator Glen Keane was working in the California branch of Walt Disney Feature Animation, and Jasmine's animator Mark Henn was in the Florida one at Disney-MGM Studios, they had to frequently phone, fax or send designs and discs to each other.
For the scenery design, layout supervisor Rasoul Azadani took many pictures of his hometown of Isfahan, Iran for guidance. Other inspirations for design were Disney's animated films from the 1940s and 50s and the 1940 film The Thief of Bagdad. The coloring was done with the computerized CAPS process, and the color motifs were chosen according to the personality – the protagonists use light colors such as blue, the antagonists darker ones such as red and black, and Agrabah and its palace use the neutral color yellow. Computer animation was used for some elements of the film, such as the tiger entrance of the Cave of Wonders and the scene where Aladdin tries to escape the collapsing cave.
Musker and Clements created the Genie with Robin Williams in mind; even though Katzenberg suggested actors such as John Candy, Steve Martin, and Eddie Murphy, Williams was approached and eventually accepted the role. Williams came for voice recording sessions during breaks in the shooting of two other films he was starring in at the time, Hook and Toys. Unusually for an animated film, much of Williams' dialogue was ad-libbed: for some scenes, Williams was given topics and dialogue suggestions, but allowed to improvise his lines. It was estimated that Williams improvised 52 characters. Eric Goldberg, the supervising animator for the Genie, then reviewed Williams' recorded dialogue and selected the best gags and lines that his crew would create character animation to match.
The producers added many in-jokes and references to Disney's previous works in the film, such as a "cameo appearance" from directors Clements and Musker and drawing some characters based on Disney workers. Beast, Sebastian from The Little Mermaid, and Pinocchio make brief appearances, and the wardrobe of the Genie at the end of the film—Goofy hat, Hawaiian shirt, and sandals—are a reference to a short film that Robin Williams did for the Disney-MGM Studios tour in the late 1980s.
Robin Williams' conflicts with the studio
In gratitude for his success with Touchstone Pictures' Good Morning, Vietnam, Robin Williams voiced the Genie for SAG scale pay ($75,000), on condition that his name or image not be used for marketing, and his (supporting) character not take more than 25% of space on advertising artwork, since Williams' film Toys was scheduled for release one month after Aladdin 's debut. For financial reasons, the studio went back on the deal on both counts, especially in poster art by having the Genie in 25% of the image, but having other major and supporting characters portrayed considerably smaller. The Disney Hyperion book Aladdin: The Making of an Animated Film listed both of Williams' characters "The Peddler" and "The Genie" ahead of main characters, but was forced to refer to him only as "the actor signed to play the Genie".
Williams and Disney had a bitter falling-out, and as a result, Dan Castellaneta voiced the Genie in The Return of Jafar, the Aladdin animated television series, and had recorded his voice for Aladdin and the King of Thieves. Following Jeffrey Katzenberg's departure from Disney, former 20th Century Fox production head Joe Roth, whose last act for Fox was greenlighting Williams' film Mrs. Doubtfire, replaced Katzenberg and arranged for a public apology to Williams by Disney. Williams agreed to perform in Hollywood Pictures' Jack, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and even agreed to voice the Genie again for the King of Thieves sequel (for considerably more than scale), replacing all of Castellaneta's dialogue.
Composer Alan Menken and songwriters Howard Ashman and Tim Rice were praised for creating a soundtrack that is "consistently good, rivaling the best of Disney's other animated musicals from the '90s." Menken and Ashman began work on the film together, with Rice taking over as lyricist after Ashman died of AIDS-related complications in early 1991. Although fourteen songs were written for Aladdin, only six are featured in the movie, three by each lyricist. The DVD Special Edition released in 2004 includes four songs in early animations tests, and a music video of one, "Proud of Your Boy", performed by Clay Aiken, which also appears on the album DisneyMania 3.
The filmmakers thought the moral message of the original tale was not appropriate, and decided to "put a spin on it", by making the fulfillment of wishes seem like a great thing, but eventually becoming a problem. Another major theme was avoiding an attempt to be what the person is not – both Aladdin and Jasmine get into trouble faking to be different people, and the Prince Ali persona fails to impress Jasmine, who only falls for Aladdin when she finds out who he truly is. Being "imprisoned" is also discussed, a fate that occurs to most of the characters – Aladdin and Jasmine are stuck to their lifestyles, Genie is attached to his lamp and Jafar, to the Sultan – and is represented visually by the prison-like walls and bars of the Agrabah palace, and the scene involving caged birds which Jasmine later frees. Jasmine is also depicted as a different Disney Princess, being rebellious to the royal life and the social structure, and trying to make her own way, unlike the princesses who just wait for rescue.
Release and reception
A large promotion campaign preceded Aladdin 's debut in theaters, with the film's trailer being attached to most Disney VHS releases, and numerous tie-ins and licensees being released. After a limited release on November 13, 1992, Aladdin debuted in 1,131 theaters on November 25, 1992, grossing $19.2 million in its opening weekend – number two at the box office, behind Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It took eight weeks for the film to reach number one at the US box office, breaking the record for the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve with $32.2 million. The film held the top spot five times during its 22-week run. Aladdin was the most successful film of 1992 grossing $217 million in the United States and over $504 million worldwide. It was the biggest gross for an animated film until The Lion King two years later. As of January 2014, it is the thirtieth highest grossing animated film and the third highest grossing traditionally animated feature worldwide, behind The Lion King and The Simpsons Movie.
Aladdin was very well received by critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 94% of critics gave the film a positive review based on a sample of 65 reviews, with an average score of 8/10.
Most critics' praise went to Robin Williams' performance as Genie, with Janet Maslin of The New York Times declaring that children "needn't know precisely what Mr. Williams is evoking to understand how funny he is". Warner Bros. Cartoons director Chuck Jones even called the film "the funniest feature ever made." Furthermore English-Irish comedian Spike Milligan considered it to be the greatest film of all time. James Berardinelli gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars, praising the "crisp visuals and wonderful song-and-dance numbers". Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said the comedy made the film accessible to both children and adults, a vision shared with Desson Howe of The Washington Post, who also said "kids are still going to be entranced by the magic and adventure." Brian Lowry of Variety praised the cast of characters, describing the expressive magic carpet as "its most remarkable accomplishment" and considered that "Aladdin overcomes most story flaws thanks to sheer technical virtuosity".
Some aspects of the film were widely criticized. Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine wrote a negative review, describing the film as racist, ridiculous, and a "narcissistic circus act" for Robin Williams. Roger Ebert, who generally praised the film in his review, considered the music inferior to its predecessors The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, and claimed Aladdin and Jasmine were "pale and routine".
Aladdin also received many award nominations, mostly for its music. It won two Academy Awards, Best Music, Original Score and Best Music, Original Song for "A Whole New World" and receiving nominations for Best Song ("Friend Like Me"), Best Sound Editing (Mark A. Mangini), and Best Sound (Terry Porter, Mel Metcalfe, David J. Hudson and Doc Kane). At the Golden Globes, Aladdin won Best Original Song ("A Whole New World") and Best Original Score, as well as a Special Achievement Award for Robin Williams, with a nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Other awards included the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature, a MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance to Robin Williams, Saturn Awards for Best Fantasy Film, Performance by a Younger Actor to Scott Weinger and Supporting Actor to Robin Williams, the Best Animated Feature by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and four Grammy Awards, Best Soundtrack Album, and Song of the Year, Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for "A Whole New World".
American Film Institute recognition:
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs – Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs
- AFI's 10 Top 10 – Nominated Animated Film
- AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals – Nominated Musical
The film was first released in VHS on October 1, 1993, as part of the "Walt Disney Classics" line. In its first week of availability, Aladdin sold over 10.6 million copies, and went on to sell over 25 million in total (a record only broken by the later release of The Lion King). It entered moratorium on April 30, 1994.
On October 5, 2004, Aladdin was released on DVD, as part of Disney's Platinum Edition line. The DVD release featured retouched and cleaned-up animation, prepared for Aladdin's planned but ultimately cancelled IMAX reissue in 2003, and a second disc with bonus features. Accompanied by a $19 million marketing campaign, the DVD sold about 3 million units in its first month, but it was less than the number of copies, sold in that amount of time, by any other Platinum Edition released before it. The film's soundtrack was available in its original Dolby 5.1 track or in a new Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix. The DVD went into moratorium in January 2008, along with its sequels.
According to an insert in the Lady and the Tramp Diamond Edition release case, Aladdin was going to be released on Blu-ray Disc as a Diamond Edition in Spring 2013. Instead, Peter Pan was released on Blu-ray as a Diamond Edition on February 5, 2013 to celebrate its 60th anniversary. A non-Diamond Edition Blu-ray was released in a few select European countries in March 2013. The Belgian edition (released without advertisements, commercials or any kind of fanfare) comes as a 1-disc version with its extras ported over from the Platinum Edition DVD). The same disc was released in the United Kingdom on 14 April 2013. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has the film slated for release on Diamond Edition Blu-ray on October 6, 2015.
One of the verses of the opening song "Arabian Nights" was altered following protests from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). The lyrics were changed in July 1993 from "Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face," in the original release to "Where it's flat and immense and the heat is intense." The change first appeared on the 1993 video release. The original lyric was intact on the initial CD soundtrack release, but the re-release uses the edited lyric. The rerecording has the original voice on all other lines and then a noticeably deeper voice says the edited line. Entertainment Weekly ranked Aladdin in a list of the most controversial films in history, due to this incident. The ADC also complained about the portrayal of the lead characters Aladdin and Jasmine. They criticized the characters' Anglicized features and Anglo-American accents, in contrast to the other characters in the film, which are dark-skinned, have foreign accents and grotesque facial features, and appear villainous or greedy.
Protests were also raised to another scene. When Aladdin is attacked by the tiger Rajah on the palace balcony, Aladdin quietly says a line that some people reported hearing as "Good teenagers, take off your clothes," which they considered a subliminal reference to promiscuity. However according to the director's commentary on the 2004 DVD, while Musker and Clements did admit Scott Weinger ad-libbed during the scene, they claimed "we did not record that, we would not record that." and said the line was "Good tiger, take off and go..." and the word "tiger" is overlapped by Rajah's snarl. After the word tiger, a second voice can be heard which has been suggested was accidentally grafted onto the soundtrack. Because of the controversy, Disney removed the line on the DVD release.
Animation enthusiasts have noticed similarities between Aladdin and Richard Williams's unfinished film The Thief and the Cobbler (also known as Arabian Knight under Miramax Films and The Princess and the Cobbler under Majestic Films International). These similarities include a similar plot, similar characters, scenes and background designs, and the antagonist Zig-Zag's resemblance in character design and mannerisms to Genie and Jafar. Though Aladdin was released prior to The Thief and the Cobbler, The Thief and the Cobbler was started much earlier in the 1960s, its production being mired in difficulties including financial problems, copyright issues, and late production times caused by separate studios trying to finish the film after Richard Williams was fired from the project for lack of finished work. The late release, coupled with Miramax purchasing and re-editing the film, has sometimes resulted in The Thief and the Cobbler being labeled a copy of Aladdin.
- List of Disney animated features
- List of Disney animated films based on fairy tales
- List of animated feature-length films
- List of traditional animated feature films
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