I simply loved the Aladdin 1992 Disney film and if you haven’t seen it yet you are doing yourself a huge disservice. However, the film had its problems and controversy as you will read about in the article below.
The History Of The Aladdin 1992 Disney Film
The Aladdin 1992 Disney Film is an animated musical fantasy comedy film that was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is Disney’s 31st animated feature film and the fourth to be produced during the Disney Renaissance.
Ron Clements was the producer and John Musker was the director.
Aladdin is based on the Arabic folktale of the same name from One Thousand and One Nights.
The voice case features some impressive actors, including Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Scott Weinger, Jonathan Freeman, Gilbert Gottfried, Frank Welker and Douglas Seale.
The film is about Aladdin who is a street urchin who finds a magic lamp containing a genie. Aladdin then disguises himself as a wealthy prince and tries to impress the Sultan so that he can marry his free-spirited daughter, Princess Jasmine.
The Disney Aladdin Film was released on the 11th of November 1992 and became the highest grossing film of that same year earning over $504 million in worldwide box revenue. Aladdin became the first animated feature to reach the half billion dollar mark and was the highest grossing animated film of all time until it was surpassed by the Lion King in 1994.
Aladdin earned itself two Academy Awards as well as other accolades for its brilliant soundtrack. ‘A Whole New World’ became the only number from a Disney feature to earn a Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
The film’s success led to more derived works inspired by the film including to video sequels. (The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves). It also led to an animated TV series and a Broadway adaptation. A live-action film adaptation directed by Guy Ritchie was released on the 24th of May 2019.
Unfortunately there were some elements of controversy that resulted from the making of Aladdin.
The first issue was that Robin Williams who played the part of the Genie was not paid the contracted amount for his work in the film or royalties that should have been due to him after the fact.
Although the original movie was a critically acclaimed masterpiece, it was also dripping in Orientalism and harmful racist depictions of Arab culture. The new film by Guy Ritchie has mostly managed to shirk much of its inspiration’s exoticism and cultural inaccuracies, but despite Ritchie’s clear efforts to deliver a more respectful version of Aladdin, it wasn’t quite enough to satisfy many of its detractors.
The original lyrics in the first verse of the song Arabian Nights described Arabia as “Where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face”. This was changed by Disney for the soundtrack.
Dr Jack Shaheen, one of the most respected and loudest critics of the vilification of Arabs in Hollywood, successfully campaigned for offensive lyrics to be changed in the original Aladdin soundtrack.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations acknowledged that the “Aladdin myth is rooted by racism, Orientalism and Islamophobia.”
What’s fascinating about the origins of this tale is that, even though 1001 Nights has been traditionally translated in English as Arabian Nights, the original story was set not in the Arab world, but in China. Early 19th and 20th-century versions of the story clearly show Aladdin as culturally Asian.
Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the film when I saw it back in 1992 and have often since used some of the music for plays and dance items. I had never heard of all the controversy surrounding Aladdin until I researched it a little more for this article.
I never realized in my life a movie is taken so seriously by the public.
I see many Bollywood movies, particularly the history-based movies get delayed or have been on hold for release because the natives complain about the plot, the verbiage the characters use, why some clothes and accessories are used and the violations of culture then.
If I use that lens to describe the original version of the Disney movie Aladdin, there are many controversies that can be problematic. As you have reflected on the music “Arabian Nights” is controversial.
The movie could be viewed as insensitive to Islamic culture and could easily be a victim of hot debate- not good.
The Prince uses accented English language and cast by not Islamic group- May be not liked.
The princess- Where is she from really! can be another question.
There is a lot of prior due diligence needed to consider making a historical movie like this. I am not sure how well it was done.
Modifications done on the movie afterward helped.
Thank you for this wonderful and elegant review of the famous movie Aladdin.
Thank you for your viewpoint Anusuya. It must be very difficult making any film, as one as to be so careful that nobody is offended. Big companies like Disney are even more scrutinized and hopefully learning from past mistakes.
This was a very informative and entertaining article. I really enjoyed it.
Wow, I never guessed that the film Aladdin was set in so much controversy. Such a shame! Also interesting is that Arabian Nights was not set in the Arab world, as we were led to believe but in China?
I think Aladin is right up there with Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White.
One of my favorite stories from the Middle East is Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Perhaps you´ve heard of it? Now if there would be some controversy about that I would be surprised, to say the least.
This is a very good article. Thanks for sharing!
Wonder why Disney hasn’t turned that one into a feature film yet?
This was a very interesting article. I loved Aladdin growing up and never new about this. It’s nice to get one’s viewpoint from time to time. That is because everyone sees things differently. It’s all about perspective. However I’m glad to see Disney is doing better . So thanks for sharing.