The classics of our childhood: Aladdin celebrates its 30th anniversary!

In 2022, just like Disneyland Paris, Aladdin celebrates its 30th anniversary! This classic Disney Studios animation, released in November 1992 in the United States, is a free inspiration of the tale Aladdin or The Wonderful Lamp but especially of the film The Thief of Baghdad (1924). Let’s have a look at its history!

“Aladin” at the originโ€ฆ

The character of Aladin (Disney spelling Aladdin) comes from a traditional Arab-Persian tale. Contrary to what one might think, this tale does not originally appear in the collection The Thousand and One Nights. It is Antoine Galland who, in his translation in the eighteenth century, has increased it with several tales and in particular with that of Aladin.

Aladin in the magic garden, illustrations by max liebert (1912)

A story (very) far from the film

In the French version of the tale, Aladin lives in China and is the son of a modest tailor named Mustapha. When Mustapha dies, Aladin becomes lazy and leaves his mother to work hard to feed them both. One day, a magician from Africa pretends to want to teach him the trade of a cloth merchant. However, this is a ruse to get him to go down into an enchanted cave that only Aladin can go to. This is to get a magic lamp. Aladin finds it but refuses to give the lamp until the magician takes him out of the cave. The latter abandons him and gives up the lamp at the same time. 

Aladin then discovers that by rubbing the marvelous object, a genie comes out and can grant all his wishes. Thanks to him, Aladdin becomes educated, polite and rich. At the entrance of the baths, he falls in love with the daughter of the sultan, Princess Badroulboudour. Impressed by the young man’s wealth, the sultan agrees to give his daughter in marriage. Without leaving the princess much choiceโ€ฆ

Aladin and Badroulboudour are married, under the astonished eyes of the magician who recognizes him. Pretending to be a madman, he seizes the magic lamp and, taking advantage of Aladin‘s absence, transports the palace where the princess is in Africa. Following the disappearance of his daughter, the sultan becomes furious and wants to have Aladin sentenced to death. Supported by the people, he obtains a delay and travels to Africa to find his wife. The latter and he agree on a ruse: she pretends to be seduced by the magician and makes him drink poison. 

Aladdin : the film

Technical data:

  • 31st animation classic
  • 40th feature film
  • released in November 1992
  • directed by John Musker and Ron Clements
  • music composed by Alan Menken
  • Budget of 28 million dollars

Song of the film Aladdin 

  • Arabian Nights – Narrator
  • One Jump Ahead – Aladdin and Chorus
  • Friend Like Me – Genie
  • Prince Ali – Genie and Chorus
  • A Whole New World – Aladdin and Jasmine

Synopsis 

The Innocence Diamond

The plot begins in the desert, under the stars, with the characters of Jafar, the grand vizier of Agrabah, and his parrot Iago. The latter wishes to enter the Cave of Wonders in order to steal a lamp. However, only one person can enter: “the Diamond of Innocence”. They discover that it is Aladdin, a young vagrant, forced to steal in the souk to feed himself.

In the palace, Princess Jasmine, daughter of the Sultan, rejects many suitors who have come to marry her. Dreaming of a marriage of love and freedom, the young woman disguises herself and flees the palace. She meets Aladdin at the market. The young people are soon found by the Palace Guard, who, under the orders of Jafar, arrest the thief and take the princess home. 

he secret of the magic lamp

Jafar disguises himself as an old man and leads Aladdin to the Cave of Wonders. The young man enters without difficulty. On his way, he meets a flying carpet that decides to accompany them to the lamp. Aladdin takes it. However, at the same time, his monkey Abu hypnotized by a huge ruby, touches the stone, which was obviously forbidden. Everything starts to collapse around our heroes who try to reach the exit on the flying carpet. Jafar is waiting for them and prepares a bad trick. He snatches the lamp from Aladdin and pushes him into the precipice to make him a prisoner of the cave forever.

Coming to his senses, Aladdin realizes that he is trapped in the depths, but also that Abu has stolen the lamp before falling too. Wanting to decipher what is written on it, he rubs the object and a Genie comes out. The latter offers him to make 3 wishes. Cleverly, Aladdin manages to get the Genie to get them out of the cave by trickery (saving a wish in the process).

A prince for a princess

With the magic of the Genie, Aladdin becomes a rich prince in order to win the heart of Jasmine, with whom he has fallen in love. He returns to Agrabah to the cheers of the crowd and presents himself at the Palace under the name of Prince Ali. Jasmine first rejects him as well as her other suitors.

However, during a romantic walk on the magic carpet, she recognizes Aladdin. After having accompanied the princess to her room (and after having exchanged a kiss), Aladdin is kidnapped by Jafar, who sees in him an obstacle to his desire to become Sultan. He is thrown into the sea but is saved in extremis by the Genie.

Both return to the Palace and Aladdin denounces the actions of Jafar. The Grand Vizier, while fleeing, notices the lamp hanging from the hero’s belt. He then knows that Prince Ali and Aladdin are one and the same person.

Love triumphs

Taking advantage of Aladdin‘s absence, Iago steals the lamp and brings it back to his master. The latter immediately vows to become Sultan, then the most powerful sorcerer on earth, reducing Jasmine and her father to slavery. Revealing Aladdin‘s imposture, he sends him far away in the desert.

However, thanks to the flying carpet, the hero returns quickly to Agrabah and confronts Jafar. Using the megalomania of the latter to turn it against him, he pushes him to make his last wish. That of becoming the most powerful genie on earth. However, he is immediately sucked into his own lamp, taking Iago with him. The Genie sends them both to the Cave of Wonders. Refusing to be taken for what he is not, Aladdin refuses to become a prince again and uses his last wish to free the Genie. However, love always triumphs as the Sultan agrees to unite Aladdin with his daughter.

Genesis

Contrary to what one might think, the film draws its inspiration mainly from the film The Thief of Baghdad, in which the scenario has great similarities. We can also see that many elements are taken from Duck Tales, the film: The Treasure of the Lost Lamp.

The idea for this feature-length musical came from Howard Ashman, during his work on The Little Mermaid in 1989. With Alan Menken, they co-wrote six songs for the film including Arabian Night, Friend like me and Prince Ali. However, with Ashman’s death in 1991, new songs written by Tim Rice replaced some of them.

Creation of the characters

The first character to be born under the pencil of Eric Goldberg is the Genie, from the features of Robin Williams. The latter agreed to lend his voice to the character and to be paid the lowest salary. On condition that the Genie occupies less than 25% of the space on the posters and that his voice is not used for merchandising. This clause was not respected, Robin Williams entered into conflict with the Walt Disney Company. So much so that the actor does not intervene on the sequel The Return of Jafar and the television series.

Aladdin owes his appearance to Michael J. Fox and Tom Cruise, while Jasmine is inspired by Jennifer Connelly.

michael j. Fox
tom cruise
jennifer connelly

Jafar, for his part, is directly inspired by the character of Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty: both have a magic scepter, a bird as a pet and metamorphoses at the end of the film.

Reception 

The film did very well at the box office in 1992. It made $217 million in the United States and $504 million worldwide.

This success led Disney Studios to offer several sequels of the film released directly on VHS tape, as well as a television series:

  • The Return of Jafar (1994)
  • Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996).

The film also got its live-action in 2019.

Marie
Passionate about writing and the world of fairy tales to the point of making it the subject of my thesis, the magic of Disney touched my cradle and never left me. From the enchantment of the princesses to the most incredible adventures, it is this pinch of dreams that has imbued my pen. Today, surrounded by a team of experienced Disneyans, I am happy and honored to extend the magic to everyday life.