Welcome back to Disney Without Magic, where I take a classic Disney movie and remove one element. This time: Aladdin. This one’s a tough one. How I could possibly remove magic from a movie with so much in it (a flying carpet, a genie, and a talking parrot), you ask? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see…
The movie starts off pretty much the same, with an introduction from our favorite peddler. “This is no ordinary lamp! It once changed the course of a young man’s life. A young man who liked this lamp was more than what he seemed. A diamond in the rough.”
“It begins on a dark night…” We see Jafar standing on a balcony of the palace on a moonlit night. He spies a bird in the distance, a parrot Aladdin fans will recognize as Iago. [[I hear the mutters already: “But how can Iago talk in a world without magic?” Well, how could he talk in the first place? None of the other animals talk, with the half-exception of Abu, whose words are only semi-intelligible. See this. Is the ability to talk innate in Disney films or is it magic? Did Jafar use his sorcery to make Iago talk? Doesn’t matter either way. You’ll see why.]] The parrot lands on Jafar’s shoulder squawking, “Cave of Wonders! Bwak!”
Jafar grabs the bird by the neck. “The Cave of Wonders! Is it true?” Parrot: “Bwak! Go tell Jafar! Bwak! Cave of Wonders!” [If you haven’t noticed by now, the parrot is not Iago. I’m sure Disney would come up with a name for this Disney sidekick, but I’m too lazy. We’ll just be calling him “the parrot” from now on.]
Back to the story. Jafar rushes off to the desert on horseback, heading for the exact location of the Cave of Wonders. (No magic beetle medallion this time. He already knows where it is.)
When he arrives, he finds the Cave of Wonders half buried in sand. It is surrounded by tents and equipment like ropes and pulleys that make it clear that this is a digsite. There are several dozen workers hauling away sand by the bucketful and erecting stone walls to keep the sand out of the way of the mouth of the cave. That’ when we first see Iago, the real Iago, as his pet parrot lands on his shoulder. They are almost identical to each other, master and parrot, and (amazingly enough) both voiced by Gilbert Gottfried. As they move, their every action is the same. When Iago gets mad, his parrot gets mad. The parrot also echoes things that Iago says (of course) as well as Jafar’s hurled insults (that way, Iago gets insulted twice! It’s comedic gold!)
[[Sidebar: On one of the Aladdin DVD commentaries it says the writers had a motto when it came to writing the story. “When in doubt, hurt the bird.” That’s why Iago gets maimed so much.]]
Anyway, Iago spies Jafar and waves him over excitedly. “Jafar! Hey, Jafar!” One of the workers unknowingly throws a bucketful of sand in Iago’s face. (See? You still get to injure him as a human!) Iago tells Jafar that they managed to uncover the entrance that very night. Jafar revels in the victory. “At last, after all my years of searching, the Cave of Wonders!” (“Bwak! Cave of Wonders!”)
He tells Iago about his long search for the Cave of Wonders after it was lost after a terrible sandstorm. It becomes clear during his exposition that Jafar knows a lot more about this place than he’s telling, and the audience should definitely get the impression that he’s been here before.
Jafar offers treasure to the first of his workers to bring him the lamp hidden within. “Now, remember! Bring me the lamp. The rest of the treasure is yours, but the lamp is mine!” The workers push each other out of the way for the opportunity to earn riches for their months (or years) of manual labor in the desert. Just as they’re opening the door (yes, this time, there’s a door deep within the tiger’s mouth that, until recently, had been filled with sand), a voice reverberates across the desert. “WHO DISTURBS MY SLUMBER?” [Not magic. Don’t get ahead of me.] The tiger’s mouth isn’t moving like in the original movie. It’s just a mysteriously loud voice. Hmmmm… From where though? The workers are terrified. Some back away, no longer wanting to enter. Only one guy, Gazeem (he’s the thief from the original movie) is brave enough.
“It is I, Gazeem, a humble treasure hunter.” The voice from the Cave of Wonders answers, “ONLY ONE MAY ENTER HERE. A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH.” Of course, no one knows what the Cave of Wonders actually means, so Gazeem goes in. Just a half a minute after Gazeem enters, we hear a click and a scream, then…nothing. Gazeem has met a terrible fate. The workers go crazy, yelling and screaming about the haunted cave and run off. No treasure is worth dying over. Jafar and Iago muse about what to do (this part plays out like the movie), except with the added part of trying to find someone stupid enough to enter the Cave of Wonders but smart enough not to get killed. Jafar: “Only one may enter. I must find this one, this…diamond in the rough.”
Cut to Aladdin and the elaborate musical number, “One Jump.” For a while, the story is going to stay the same. Aladdin runs from the guards, flirts with some ladies, successfully gets away with the bread, then gives it away to some urchins. Because he’s a nice guy.
Afterward, Aladdin tries to save the kids from being trampled by that annoying prince and gets called a street rat just outside the palace doors. The story deviates for a little here. We don’t want to take the focus off Aladdin too much, but maybe we’ll slip in a bit of Jafar’s plotting. Jafar is no doubt watching the parade and sees the guards trying to catch Aladdin after he attacked and humiliated the prince. (Not that he cares, but he probably doesn’t want anyone marrying Jasmine and becoming Sultan but him.) He stops the main guard and asks him about this street urchin. The guard tells him all about how he’s just a “street rat” who always seems to outwit them and escape. Jafar dismisses the guards, then grins slyly to himself. The wheels in Jafar’s head are turning.
Cut back to Aladdin just as he finished yet another daring escape. We’re back to the original storyline for now, with Aladdin singing a soulful reprise. “Riffraff, street rat…I don’t buy that…” Then he dreams of what’s going on in the palace…
Of, course, it’s Jasmine and her father talking about the law requiring her to marry a prince, but she wants to marry for love and get out of the palace for once in her life.
After their talk, Jafar approaches the Sultan. The Sultan complains about his suitor problem, then tries to feed the parrot some of his moldy old crackers while talking to Jafar. In his distraction, he misses the parrot and shoves the crackers into Iago’s mouth instead, never realizing. Meanwhile, Jafar tries to convince the Sultan to loan him his mystic blue diamond to help “divine” which suitor is best for Jasmine. The Sultan objects (“But it’s been in my family for years!”) but Jafar convinces him in the end with some hogwash about Jasmine, maybe some reverse psychology about what will happen if Jasmine fails to get married by her next birthday yadda, yadda, yadda… [Note: Jafar in this version is not a sorcerer, but more like a super clever tinkerer. He doesn’t use hypnosis, because I’m pretty sure that it takes a willing participant, and making his staff do the freaky eye thing is probably beyond his mechanical ability.] As Jafar departs, victorious in his procurement of the Sultan’s ring, Iago spits out the crackers (complaining, obviously). Then:
Iago: “Whadda we need that for?”
Jafar: “Were you not listening, my bird-brained sycophant? (Parrot: “Bwak! Bird-brained sycophant!”) Only one may enter.”
Iago: “But I thought we already picked out the mook for the job…”
Jafar grins, malevolently. Jafar: “Indeed… And I will have my guards extend him an invitation…”
Back to Jasmine. She escapes the palace, knowing she can’t stay as long as she’s going to be forced to marry some prince she doesn’t love. She goes into the marketplace, where she runs afoul of a salesaman, is saved from having her hand cut off due to Aladdin’s quick thinking. Abu’s greediness, however, exposes them and they have to run.
Cut back to Iago and Jafar and their plotting. Normally, this is where Jafar and Iago would use the ring and their weird weather machine to find out that Aladdin is the “diamond in the rough” they need to get the lamp. But that’s too much on the magicky side of things. Instead, Jafar is going through shelves of books, tossing them at Iago and (often) hitting him square in the face with them. At last, he finds a dusty old book and opens it. Inside, there is an elaborate drawing of the Cave of Wonders not half-buried in sand as it is now. Here we get some exposition that the Cave of Wonders was actually once a treasure trove of the Sultans many generations ago before it was lost in the desert sands. Inside, along with all the wealth of Agrabah, was kept a golden lamp. Jafar: “Only he who held the lamp and possessed what was inside it could be Sultan. And only one person can enter the Cave to retrieve it.” Iago: “Yeah, yeah… The ‘diamond in the rough.'” Jafar grabs him angrily. Jafar: “You fool! This is the Diamond in the Rough!” He holds up the Sultan’s blue diamond ring. [[Buh buh BUH! Yup, in my version, I took the literal route rather than the figurative. Aladdin is still a diamond in the rough kind of character, so it’s a parallel between the two ideas.]]
Jafar: “Only the Sultan could enter the Cave of Wonders. That’s why Gazeem failed, and that’s why I failed all those years ago! Because we didn’t have this!” In his excitement, Jafar releases Iago from his grip so violently that he flies across the room and hits the bookshelf, which crashes down atop him with a mountain of books squashing him. Iago: “Swell.”
Back to Jasmine and Aladdin. They do some flirting on the rooftops of Agrabah, jump off some buildings, check out his sweet digs and almost kiss. When the guards show up, Jasmine and Aladdin both think they are after them and they run. Before jumping off a roof, Aladdin extends his hand. Aladdin: “Do you trust me?”
Jasmine eventually says yes, then they jump. Unfortunately, the guards still catch them and try to arrest Aladdin. Jasmine reveals her identity (and Aladdin realizes that the girl he is now starting to like is a princess) and demands he be released. She finds out it’s under Jafar’s orders and she has to take it up with him. The story tracks the same for a little while longer. Jasmine orders Jafar to release Aladdin, to which he tells her that he’s already been executed. Jasmine is crushed: “It’s all my fault, Rajah. I didn’t even know his name.”
Cut to the dungeon. Abu helps free Aladdin, then Jafar (disguised as the old beggar man) tempts him with treasure and helps him escape. They go to the Cave of Wonders. It’s super deserted with the workers all gone now (except for Iago, whose pops his head up from a pile of sand to say, “Jafar, I’m dying here!” before Jafar shoves him back down into the sand before Aladdin can see him). It’s also getting super windy–a sign that a sandstorm is a-comin’.
The voice booms from the Cave: “Who disturbs my slumber?” “It is I, Aladdin.” Cave: “ONLY ONE MAY ENTER HERE. A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH.” Jafar gives Aladdin the diamond ring, then waves him on to show the ring to the Cave. Cave: “PROCEED.” Jafar reminds him, “Remember, boy–first fetch me the lamp and then you shall have your reward.” Aladdin goes in through the door, which has been propped open a crack with a stone by the workers.
Beyond the door is the typical mountains of gold, gems, etc. Aladdin and Abu start to go inside, but the instant they do, a trapdoor opens beneath them. They teeter on the edge, seeing a pit of spikes beneath them, with a skeleton inside it that is obviously Gazeem. [[Yes, I know he wouldn’t have decomposed that fast, but this is a Disney movie, after all]]. Luckily, Aladdin’s quick street rat reflexes and Abu’s prehensile tail saves them. As they walk around it, all sorts of traps go off every direction they go–darts flying out at them, pressure plates going off, swinging axes, that kind of thing. It’s not too bad thus far. They manage to avoid the last trap, then tumble out onto the shore of that underground lake.
Cut to outside. The wind is really starting to pick up. Iago’s freaking out. Iago: “Jafar! The sandstorm!” Jafar: “I’ve waited for this day for ten years… I’m not going to lose that lamp again!”
Back to Aladdin. He’s climbed the stairs all dramatically as usual and sees the lamp. Aladdin: “This is it? This is what we came all the way down here to–”
Aladdin has picked up the lamp, not knowing he had set off the pressure plate the lamp was sitting on a la Indiana Jones. The stone dais starts to sink and traps start going off everywhere. Aladdin and Abu make a run for the exit. As they’re dodging traps, climbing over mountains of gold to avoid the traps (Remember, no magic, so it’s not like the Cave cares whether or not they touch the gold. That’s what the traps are for), Abu has kind of a mini freakout. That’s when the “Abu, this is no time to panic!” line gets in there, just as the biggest trap of them all starts to go off, maybe like a wall of fire or something. “Start panicking!” In the end, they make it to the entrance, but in trying to avoid the last spike trap, Aladdin falls in and is hanging on for his life.
There’s the same old scene between him and Jafar (“Throw me the lamp!”), but Jafar double crosses him and takes the lamp, Abu biting him in the process. He and Iago close the door from the outside (which has already started gathering quite a bit of sand in front of it from the storm), sliding a plank or something through it so Aladdin can’t escape. Jafar then takes off his disguise and celebrates…except the lamp is gone. Jafar falls to his knees, yelling furiously to the sky, even as sand begins to pile up all around him. It is clear from the storm, however, that Jafar’s not going to have time to go back for Aladdin and the lamp without risking being buried in the sandstorm.
Meanwhile, Abu helps Aladdin out of the trap, then reveals the lamp. Aladdin: “Looks like such a beat-up, worthless piece of junk. Hey, I think there’s something written here, but it’s hard to make out…”
[[Let’s stop for a moment. We know Genie’s not going to pop out, because there is no magic and therefore no genies. But that’s not what I want you to think about. That line about the writing was straight from the movie. What was written there? Aladdin never reads it because he rubs the lamp to clean it up, then Genie pops out and starts singing and dancing and whatnot. In my version, we get to find out.]]
Aladdin (reading): “‘He who possesses the contents of this lamp is deserving of being Sultan.’ Huh. What do you think’s inside it, Abu?” Abu gets excited, thinking it is rubies or gems or something. Aladdin takes off the lid and looks inside. Aladdin’s face falls. Aladdin: “It’s empty.” Abu pouts.
Just then, there’s a muffled yell from nearby. Avoiding the traps, Aladdin and Abu go over to a giant stone door. The voice seems to be coming from behind it. Aladdin: “Hello?” Just more muffled yells. Aladdin looks at the door. There’s no handle, but there is a slot the exact same size as the diamond of the Sultan’s ring. Aladdin pushes the diamond inside and the door clicks open. Just then, someone tumbles out. “Whoa! Does it feel good to be outta there!” It’s Genie, only he’s not big and blue anymore. This is what he looks like:
Don’t be too disappointed. In this version, yes, Genie is human. He’d still be voiced by Robin Williams and still have his madcap, anachronistic, pop-culture-fueled antics, but it’s not going to be Genie poofing into different outfits and whatever. It’s just going to be references that the audience will get but will seem more like Genie’s been a bit brain-damaged. For the sake of making it less obvious that Genie is now a human-ified genie, let’s make his name be Jinn or Djinn or one of the alternate spellings of “genie”. Genie: “But everyone just calls me Genie.”
Genie can show Aladdin around, showing him how to spot and disable or simply avoid the traps. It is clear he has been here a while and knows the layout well. Genie can do a tour guide impersonation, showing him where the traps are and making jokes, like “Pressure plate…poison darts…snake pit. ‘Snakes….Why did it have to be snakes?'” Aladdin and Abu can exchange dubious glances as they consider Genie’s sanity. Aladdin: “How long did you say you had been down here…?” We find out that Genie has been trapped in the Cave of Wonders for ten years, since the last time it was opened. Aladdin: “But what about food and water?” Genie (doing an impersonation of a snooty French waiter giving a patron the specials) says, “Ah, we ‘ave a lovely fish from ze underground lake and ze finest casks of ze Sultan’s best wine…” We also find out that it was Genie who was voicing the Cave of Wonders, using a kind of giant megaphone type thing that was in the room he was in. He accidentally locked himself inside when he went to go use it and had been trapped in there the last day or so since Jafar’s men finally unearthed the door.
At one point, Genie calls Aladdin “Master,” which prompts Aladdin to ask, “Wait a minute! I’m–your master?” Genie reveals that he is a slave, and he assumes that since since Aladdin has the Sultan’s ring and the lamp that he is the Sultan and thus Genie belongs to him. Aladdin is weirded out by being called ‘master’ and insists that he just call him Aladdin. (“Can I call you ‘Al’, or maybe just ‘Din.’ Or how about Laddie?”) The later scene where Aladdin and Genie talk about his freedom goes here, with some alterations. Genie reveals that he longs to be free, but he can’t be until his master sets him free. Aladdin doesn’t have to wait to set Genie free like in the original; he does it right now. Then, Aladdin offers to be Genie’s friend. Genie: “I’ve never had a friend before…” For this act of kindness, and for helping him out of his predicament earlier, Genie promises to repay Aladdin the life debt. Aladdin: “That’s a nice offer, Genie, but there’s not much else I need besides getting out of this place and, considering how long you’ve been here, I don’t see how that’s possible…” Genie: “Master, I don’t think you quite realize what you’ve got here! There’s a reason they call me Genie…because I work magic.” [Jazz hands!]
Cue the music for “Friend Like Me.” There’s only some minor alterations in the lyrics that show that Genie is not magical, just someone who is very good at getting things done for other people. He’s super creative, handy, etc. He can also work at comically fast speeds.
Genie and Aladdin end up waiting out the sandstorm. In the meantime, Genie shows him around some more. He’s had a lot of time to explore over the years. Aladdin: “I still don’t see how we’re going to get out of here, Genie.” Genie shows him far around the underground lake, down some deep, windy passages, etc. At the end, there’s another door. Just like the door in the treasure chamber that Genie was stuck behind, this one has a place for the Sultan’s diamond. Across the door are the words, “Only one may enter: a diamond in the rough.” Aladdin realizes this is where Genie got the idea for what he told Jafar and the workers. Genie would have known that he couldn’t get out of the locked room on his own, and anyone who managed to find their way inside the cave couldn’t release him without the ring. Aladdin uses it and opens the door. It leads up and out into a back alley of Agrabah, far from the desert–a secret passage for the Sultan. Aladdin closes the door (the storm is still going on.) Genie: “There’s enough gold here for both of us never to have to worry about money again.” Aladdin: “You won’t have to be a slave anymore!” Genie: “And you can live like a prince!” That’s when Aladdin gets the idea.
Aladdin asks Genie if he’d like to use his “magic” to help him out with something. He tells him about Jasmine, and that she can only marry a prince. They realize that, with the riches from the cave, they can bankroll pretty much any scheme they need. Genie: “Hang on to your turban, kid, cause we’re gonna make you a star!”
The movie continues as expected for a while. The Sultan yells at Jafar on Jasmine’s behalf for having executed someone without his permission. Jasmine makes a threat against Jafar, who realizes that as soon as Jasmine gets married, she’s going to get rid of him. Iago comes up with the idea that maybe Jafar should marry her. They enact their plan, Jafar approaching the Sultan to tell him of an old law he found that if no suitable husband is available, the princess should marry the Grand Vizier. His machinations are interrupted by (what else?) an elaborate musical number!!!!
[[Note that the elephant is not Abu in this version, nor is there Carpet. (Sorry. I couldn’t think of a way to keep him as a character.) The elephant is no doubt just an elephant they managed to buy with their mountains of gold. Abu will still be around a lot, basically filling in the hole left by Carpet (like playing chess with Genie. “That’s a good move. I can’t believe it! I’m losing to a monkey!”)]]
There’s a little change here. When Jafar gets crushed by the opening door during Al’s parade, but when he reveals himself once more (a little worse for wear), Genie sees him and gives a gasp of alarm and hides. [[This is actually not too different from the original, wherein Genie ducks into the lamp just before the end of the song, his job in making Aladdin’s entrance done. In my version, Genie ducking away is actually kind of an important detail.]] Aladdin introduces himself, gives the Sultan a ride on his elephant (nearly trampling Iago in the process) while Aladdin and Jafar debate about his worthiness as a suitor. Then Aladdin opens his big mouth, and Jasmine overhears. (“I am not a prize to be won!”) Oops. Meanwhile, Jafar decides he’s got to get rid of this Prince Abooboo.
Later, Aladdin is sneaking around, trying to find Genie, who has pretty much disappeared. He finds him hiding in the bushes (with, I’m sure, a soldier-in-a-war-movie schtick waiting for Aladdin when Genie pops out again.) Aladdin asks him why he disappeared and Genie explains that Jafar was his old master. He sent Genie down into the Cave of Wonders to get the lamp back and abandoned him there. “Al,” he says, “You gotta help me! You can’t let him take me back!” Aladdin promises he won’t let anything happen to Genie. In the meantime, however, Aladdin explains the situation about Jasmine and asks for some help. Genie wants him to try honesty (“Tell her the….TRUTH!!!”) but Aladdin doesn’t want her to know he’s just a streetrat. Aladdin: “Can’t you work some of your ‘magic?'” Genie reluctantly agrees, and in the meantime, Al goes up to talk to her.
Cue the balcony scene, Jasmine sending Rajah on him, Jasmine starting to think she recognizes Aladdin from the market place, etc. In the meantime, you can hear the sounds of Genie making an awful racket down below. Genie pops up at the level of Aladdin’s foot in order to tell Aladdin to stall just a little longer (Aladdin: “What should I do?” Genie: “Talk about her! She’s smart, fun, the hair, the eyes. Anything–pick a feature!”) Genie disappears again and Al’s compliments work against him, bringing down Jasmine’s wrath. The racket from below stops and Aladdin still does his fake walk-off-the-balcony gag, popping up once more when Jasmine shows concern. “How did you do that?” she asks. Aladdin: “I’ll show you. Do you trust me?”
Jasmine takes his hand, and she steps out over the balcony and lands on a carpet, seemingly suspended in midair. It’s actually on a slide, and once they land, the two of them slide down the ramp into an elaborate kind of circus Genie has erected in the courtyard. Cue “A Whole New World,” but this is a whole other world that Aladdin’s going to show her. Whereas in the original, Aladdin showed her all sorts of beautiful things and landmarks across the globe, this is going to be a world of imagination. A lot of the magic in this scene will be good camera work–Jasmine and Aladdin seem to be flying past the pyramids and the Sphinx, but they’re just crudely drawn pictures on a canvas that Genie and Abu are moving in the background. There’s a snow scene with an igloo in it, but then you zoom out and see that it’s a spilled salt shaker and a bunch of sugar cubes piled up. Genie can make the wind whip their hair with fans, release a flock of birds at them so it’s like they’re flying through them, etc. The bond that’s formed between them is not because Ali has opened her eyes to a “Whole New World”, but because he has an outlook on the world that’s endearing, and it makes her rethink what she’s often thought of her own imprisonment in the palace. Life’s really not so bad from a different perspective.
They end the night (instead of on top of a building watching fireworks) laying next to each other on the carpet, looking up at the stars. That’s when Jasmine says, “It’s a shame Abu had to miss this.” Aladdin: “Nah. He doesn’t really like flying.” (This line is actually funnier in this version! They didn’t actually do any flying!) Jasmine calls him out on his lies, which Aladdin covers up as usual. They say goodnight. Aladdin: “For the first time in my life, things are starting to go right.” Cue the ambush.
Genie watches from the bushes, wanting to help but so terrified of Jafar that he can’t. The guards throw Aladdin off the cliff and he starts to sink. Just about as he’s about to go completely unconscious and possibly drown, we see someone dive in and save him. It’s Genie, who pulls him up onto shore.
“I’m gettin’ kind of fond of you, kid. Not that I want to pick out curtains or anything…” Group hug!
Cut back to the palace. Jasmine excitedly tells her father that she’s chosen Prince Ali, but by this time, Jafar has already convinced the Sultan that Ali has departed and that Jasmine’s only option is to marry him instead. (Thus, no need for hypnosis.) Aladdin comes back just in time to reveal Jafar’s duplicity, and Jafar and Iago have to flee or be arrested. (Before they do, however, Jafar sees the lamp hidden in Aladdin’s turban, just like in the original.) The Sultan blesses the future marriage between Aladdin and Jasmine, then congratulates Aladdin and tells him that he will be Sultan. Aladdin is alarmed by this.
Back in Jafar’s lair, Iago is freaking out about them going to get arrested and executed while Jafar is just laughing maniacally, having realized that Prince Ali is just Aladdin. He sends Iago to go get the lamp back.
Meanwhile, Aladdin is panicking about the fact that he is going to have to be Sultan. He finds Genie in his bedroom, packing and loading up his things–all of the things he’s been using to work his “magic”, like the canvas background from “A Whole New World” and probably some really anachronistic things like the Goofy hat he wears at the end of the original movie. Genie cheers for him and congratulates him, just like in the original, but then gets right back down to business.
Genie: “Hey, Al, can I borrow that diamond? I just want to pop down to the Cave of Wonders, grab a few gems for the road and then [in a baseball announcer voice] I–am–outta here!!!”
Aladdin: “You’re leaving? Now?”
Genie: “Jafar’s gone and you got the girl! A fairy tale ending! Now, I’m going to celebrate my new-found freedom by seeing what’s out there besides a big, giant tiger’s mouth in the desert. I’ll send you a postcard, or a pair of those mouse ears with your name embroidered on them!”
Aladdin: “You can’t leave now! They want to make me Sultan–no, they want to make Prince Ali Sultan. Without you, I’m just Aladdin.”
Al takes out the lamp from his turban, looking at it wistfully. He (and the audience) can clearly see the words printed on it: “He who possesses the contents of this lamp is deserving of being Sultan.” The lamp was empty when they found it, but inside is the Sultan’s ring for safe keeping. The two items are symbols of the life that awaits Aladdin, a life he’s not ready to face on his own.
Genie: “Al, you won!”
Aladdin: “Because of you! The only reason anyone thinks I’m anything is because of you. What if they find out I’m not really a prince? What if Jasmine finds out? I’ll lose her. Genie, I can’t keep this up on my own. I can’t let you leave.”
Genie: (Sarcastically) “Hey, I understand. You saved my life, I saved yours. Maybe saving someone from drowning wasn’t the same as opening a locked door… After all, you’ve lied to everyone else. Hey, I was beginning to feel left out. Now, if you’ll excuse me, master...”
Genie leaves, betrayed that Al had claimed to be his friend and now is treating him like a slave again. Angry, Aladdin throws a pillow on top of the lamp as if trying to bury them. But then, Aladdin realizes his mistake, decides to tell the truth to Jasmine and leaves. Iago sneaks in and steals the lamp once he’s gone.
Abu, watching from the window, tries to chase after Iago but is attacked by the parrot. Abu goes to find Aladdin, but runs into Genie first. Abu frantically makes noises and gestures to try to indicate what has happened. [This is a perfect opportunity for Genie to do a Lassie reference. “What is it, boy? Timmy’s trapped in the well!?”] That’s when Genie sees Iago and the parrot running/flying away with the lamp. Genie and Abu chase after them. They are so focused on getting the lamp back that Genie isn’t watching as he runs back smack dab into Jafar.
Jafar recognizes Genie at once as his old slave and Genie is confronted with former master at last. Genie: “Master! I was just coming to see you and bring you that lamp you sent me to get ten years ago…” He grabs the lamp from Iago and hands it to Jafar. “So now you’ve got it and I’ll just be going now…” He tries to leave but Jafar stops him.
Jafar basically coerces Genie into serving him again, either with threats against himself, Abu, Aladdin, or any or all of the above. Then, he orders Genie to execute the “preparations” Jafar had Genie arrange all those years ago when he first anticipated getting a hold of the lamp. Genie: “I was afraid of that…”
Back to Aladdin–the Sultan is about to make his announcement about Aladdin and Jasmine when crazy things start happening all at once, most of it mechanical in nature, like iron grates coming down to block off doors and various other devices happening that either 1) lock down the palace or 2) set off traps or other things to cause chaos or entrap the Sultan and the others. (This is the stuff Jafar had Genie set in place before). After the Aladdin and the others are basically blocked off from escape, another trap is activated that drops a cage or something on top of them. Aladdin rolls out of the way just in time, but the Sultan and Jasmine are trapped. Aladdin looks up and sees that Genie is the one working the traps. Aladdin: “Genie, what are you doing?” Genie: “Sorry, kid. I got a new master now…” That’s when Jafar reveals himself.
Sultan: “Jafar, you vile betrayer!”
Iago: “That’s Sultan Vile Betrayer to you.”
Aladdin realizes that he can still fix this situation. Aladdin: “Oh, yeah? Well, we’ll just see about that!” He pulls of his turban, intending to give the lamp to the Sultan and thus restore him to power, but the lamp is gone. Jafar holds it up for all to see, announcing, “Finders-keepers, Abooboo. By the ancient decrees, he who holds the lamp and what’s within is by all rights Sultan of all the land!” Aladdin yells back, “Well, the joke’s on you, Jafar, because that lamp is empty!”
Laughing maniacally, Jafar opens the lamp and pulls out the Sultan’s ring that was being stored within it for safekeeping. The Sultan recognizes it (“My ring!”) and Jafar puts it on. Jafar: “Yes, the Diamond in the Rough, the Sultan’s ring. And upon my finger, it grants me the throne and all the power that comes with it!”
So, no doubt after a lot of blustering from Jafar, he exposes Aladdin to Jasmine in a short but catchy reprise of “Prince Ali.” [[At this point in the movie, he would be getting shot from the palace on a tower that ends up on a snowy mountain somewhere. In this case, it’ll have to be something far less cool but it’ll still have to have the danger to Aladdin involved, otherwise why wouldn’t Jafar just kill him outright like he tried to in the first place?]]
This time, Jafar simply hauls off and throws Aladdin from the tower which, in Disney movies, is usually a quick and final end to many, many villains. Fortunately, Aladdin is a hero, so he makes a (mostly) soft landing as he hits a net trap set up from Jafar’s takeover of the palace. Unfortunately, it goes off upon impact, and Aladdin is hoisted up into the air, trapped in the net and held up by a rope in a pulley.
[[Sidebar: I know all of this mechanical stuff isn’t a perfect answer to magic. Wouldn’t someone have noticed all the work Genie had put into the castle behind the scenes? Was he just pretending to renovate it or what? And if it was all hidden somehow, it would have to have a significant amount of camouflage or a hell of a lot of mechanized sliding doors in walls or something. Just work with me here. Jafar’s been planning this for a while.]]
Aladdin is stuck for a while, struggling to release himself, but then Abu climbs down from the tree and helps him out by cutting the ropes or chewing him out or something. Then, together, they decide to sneak back into the castle and help rescue the others and stop Jafar. Jafar will still have his chance to gloat, to dress Jasmine up in a sexy outfit and have her feed him apples while in chains. Iago will have his revenge by feeding the Sultan moldy old crackers. Jafar will still be ordering Genie around to take care of things (after all, he’s not an all-powerful sorcerer now, or even a normal sorcerer, so he needs someone to do the dirty work for him.)
Aladdin manages to sneak inside and talk to Genie and get his help once more. Genie: “Al, I can’t help you! I work for Señor Psychopath now.” Aladdin: “Hey, I’m a street rat, remember? I’ll improvise.” And improvise he does, freeing the others with Jasmine’s distracting of Jafar by coming onto him, freeing Rajah to attack Jafar, then doing some sweet street rat jumps and climbing and whatnot to overwhelm Jafar. I assume that at some point, Jafar will unleash his greatest weapon, a giant snake! (Because, of course, he can’t turn into one himself). Or maybe it’ll be a pit full of them. I don’t know. It’ll be a daring fight. Abu and Rajah take care of the parrot (presumably by Rajah eating him, or at the very least trapping him in his mouth), the Sultan and Jasmine take care of Iago, and Aladdin and Genie take care of Jafar (presumably by one of Jafar’s own traps.) Agrabah is saved!
The story winds down with Jafar’s punishment being handed down. “Ten years in the Cave of Wonders outta chill him out!” This way, Genie gets his own form of justice for being so mistreated by Jafar. Jafar, Iago, and the parrot get dragged away in whatever cage or trap they were caught in, yelling and complaining the entire time. Before they go, the Sultan gets back his ring from Jafar’s finger. Sultan: “My family’s ring! I hated being parted from it…” Aladdin hands him the lamp as well. Al: “I think this belongs to you, too…” Sultan: “This really is the Lost Lamp! By Allah, I never thought I’d live to see it again…” Aladdin: “I’m sorry, it’s empty… When I found it, whatever was inside was already long gone.” Sultan: “My boy, it isn’t empty!” He takes off the lid, and inside along the walls of the lamp are inscribed some words, like, “Wisdom, justice, patience, truth,” etc. Sultan: “Jafar was wrong. The lamp doesn’t grant any real power.” Aladdin thinks about this, then rereads the lamp’s inscription out loud. “‘He who possesses the contents of this lamp is deserving of being Sultan.'” He realizes that the lamp’s a symbol about the true power of the Sultan is in his character.
With that last tenet of “truth” in mind, we get back to our original ending with Aladdin apologizing to Jasmine for lying about who he was. The Sultan changes the law so that Aladdin and Jasmine can get married, and Aladdin officially clears the life debt between him and Genie, and Genie decides to go on permanent vacation. Happy ending!
I hope you enjoyed this way-longer-than-expected alternate version of Aladdin. I tried to stay as true to the original story (because it’s just so good!) as well as trying to stay true to the spirit of it. It forced me into alternatives I hadn’t thought of originally because of the holes the magic-less universe left behind (like trying to make a magically romantic moment between Aladdin and Jasmine without a flying carpet or having Aladdin somehow ruin his and Genie’s friendship without reneging on the whole freeing-Genie-with-his-last-wish deal.) I hope you found it as interesting experiment as I did.
Stay tuned for another Disney Without Magic!
Other Disney Without Magic:
Beauty and the Beast
Obligatory copyright notice: All characters and images are owned by Disney. All Photoshopping is done by me. This is a fan tribute and no copyright infringement is intended.