Disney Color Palettes

So, when I was working on this, I spent quite a few minutes searching my screen caps for a close-up picture of Aladdin. More time, in fact, than I would care to admit, considering it should have taken just seconds to find a shot of the main character of the movie. But the issue I was having was that so many of the shots were colorized, with the color, aura, mood lighting, whatever you want to call it coloring the characters’ faces in addition to the backgrounds.  Shots like these:

aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-2427 aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-2999 aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-8626 aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-9186

In fact, the only time you get an accurate color shot of the characters are in just a few scenes (the marketplace and in the palace during the day). This got me to wondering if this was just my imagination, a coincidence, or something very much intended. So I took a sample of the screenshots that I had downloaded from disneyscreencaps.com (an awesome site, by the way), about 10% of them, and put them together to get an idea of the colorization. This is the result:

Aladdin color palette final copy

You can click to enlarge to prove to yourself that I’m not manipulating the image. These are unaltered screenshots (though a bit low-res to keep the size down).

Remind you of anything? This is the thought that popped into my head after I had assembled the finished product:

aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-3369

Yup, it looks like Carpet. It wasn’t intentional, but the width I had used for my collage (which I kept thin so that the stripes of color would be thicker for emphasis) makes the finished product resemble Carpet, but not just in shape, but in color. The main colors are there: Dark and light purple, gold, and maroon. This was almost certainly intentional by the artists: they chose a palette of colors and stuck with it, weaving threads of it into both the characters and the backgrounds themselves. Aladdin’s got a maroon fez and a purple vest, Jafar’s main color accent to his black is maroon, and he’s got a gold staff. But the rest of the colors don’t follow this pattern: Jasmine wears a kind of light turquoise, the Sultan wears off-white, Genie is bright blue, etc. So the colors we’re seeing in the overall scheme mostly come from the backgrounds themselves, and the reflected light onto the characters’ skin and clothes that gives this illusion. It’s done for mood. Darker scenes have darker colors, big scenic shots are often pink or purple, often at sunset/sunrise to give it a emphasized beauty. The oasis and Jasmine’s gardens are mostly shot in broad daylight, so most of the green color comes from the foliage in the background. Jafar’s takeover is in a cloudy purple to show the darkness overtaking Agrabah and is later red to reflect Jafar’s signature color and his eventual red genie form. (Even Jasmine and the Sultan’s outfits are colored red to reflect Jafar’s total takeover. By the end of the movie, everything is back to normal, with totally unaltered color and bright blue skies.

So this got me to wondering again… This color scheme was so intricately woven into the movie that it could be not be anything but intentional, so what about the other movies of the time? I turned to the rest of what I (and many others) call The Fab Four: The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty & the Beast (1991), and the Lion King (1994). (Aladdin was 1992, BTW). Here’s what their color palettes look like:

The Little Mermaid Color palette final copy Beauty and the beast color palette final copy The Lion king color palette final

The Little Mermaid (Left), Beauty & the Beast (Center), The Lion King (Left)

Disappointed? I was, at least a bit. There’s not the same coherence of color in these movies as there was in Aladdin. Let’s do a detailed analysis for each (because, if you haven’t noticed this about me yet, that’s sort of my thing).

The Little Mermaid:
Out of all of them, Little Mermaid seems to lack a coherent color palette, and seems much more subdued than the others. This is actually rather understandable, considering where Disney was coming from at the time. Many people signal TLM as the game-changer for Disney, bringing them back out of a slump into the glorious age that brought us the Fab Four, plus other awesome movies like Mulan and Hercules which are definitely on par quality-wise. Before, the movies were a lot darker, with things like The Brave Little Toaster, Oliver & Company, the Black Cauldron, and the Great Mouse Detective. Plus, you have to realize that Little Mermaid takes place under water half the time, and if you remember from that one oceanography class you might have taken in college (and that I definitely did), there’s only a thin layer of the entire ocean where light can penetrate, so I imagine it was a challenge to make it look realistic and yet look like they’re underwater. I also have to give Disney credit because, if you look closely at the underwater shots, they do a fantastic job of varying the light and making it act correctly underwater in a way unequaled until the glory that is Finding Nemo.

But there’s the difference, and this applies to the other two as well: they went for a more realistic approach. Sure, it’s an animated movie about mermaids and magic and whatnot, but there’s nothing too imaginative about their take. It’s not stylized like Hercules to make the characters (and clouds) more closely resemble Greek pottery or Mulan with the backgrounds that resemble Chinese watercolors. It’s just a Disney movie underwater.

hercules-br-disneyscreencaps.com-2328

Disney should know ears don’t look like sticky buns.

mulan-disneyscreencaps.com-1304

Check out the trees. That’s definitely an art style choice. They even allude to the art style of Chinese watercolors in the opening credits.

Back to Little Mermaid. There’s a ton of detail in the scenes, which kind of muddies the zoomed-out view of the movie. Some of the water scenes have so many details in the rock formations that the brilliant blues and turquoises are darkened, making them not pop quite as much as they could.  Even on those scenes where the background art is gorgeous (like the sunset right before Eric’s wedding to Ursula-in-disguise, the misty greys of the opening sequence of the ship at sea, and the purples of most of Ursula’s scenes, the colors are not as obvious in the grand scheme because the character coloration generally remain constant, so you’ve got a red-haired, purple-shelled, green-tailed, pale-skinned girl against a teal sky with grey clouds and a tan shore. It’s hard to see what the dominant color is supposed to be. Even when there is a dominant color, it’s not as stark a color choice. Check out the rowboat scene with Ariel & Eric. It’s got a kind of teal hue to it, but the characters themselves only look as if the darkness got cranked down a bit, but their color balance stayed the same as usual. You can tell it best by looking at Ariel and Eric’s sleeves, which we know to be white. They’re just a bit of gray, not teal like the background.

Beauty & the Beast:
This color scheme bears a resemblance to Aladdin’s (lots of reds, purples, golds and blues), but it’s far more subdued. There are pops of color here and there (mostly around “Be Our Guest”, with all the colored spotlights they use), and some tonal color changes: Murky blue for the Beast’s castle interior, ominous green for the fight scene, which fades to a more melancholy blue when the Beast’s death/transformation occur. Everything else is mostly just realistic interiors like wallpapers, blue skies, etc. Note that the screenshots were taken from the extended version of the movie, which includes the song “Human Again”. This song’s coloring does a lot more to set the tone than a lot of other scenes. It’s mostly in pinks and purples, which are very bright and hopeful about (you guessed it) being human again. Beast & Belle’s dance sequence and subsequent balcony chat I think is interesting color-wise because the ballroom is gold (matching Belle’s dress) and the nighttime sky is a royal blue (matching Beast’s coat). Similarly, the hunting lodge/tavern scene for the “Gaston” number is very similar in color to Gaston himself, a sort of reddish brown to match his bright red shirt. All of his cronies, too, (except the Bimbettes) blend into the background, giving you this hint that Gaston’s got a kind of control over the town. (Also, what is it with villains and red?)

I’m not saying the comparison between Aladdin’s clear design decision about color and that of B&tB is fair, or that one style is intrinsically better than the other. In fact, I think the absolute single greatest frame of any animated Disney picture is this one:

beauty-and-the-beast-disneyscreencaps.com-2134

The colors are amazing, the shot is wonderful, it’s just…gorgeous. I had a Beauty and the Beast trading card collection as a kid and this was my all-time favorite one. But when you zoom out of it, you can’t really get the bright blue sky, the fiery oranges, the fluffy pinks…you just get a tan mess. That’s the point I’m trying to make. The details are great, but it’s colorization is more down-to-earth and realistic.

The Lion King:
The colors definitely pop in this one. They do a great job of setting a color scheme, if not as pronounced as Aladdin’s. You definitely get a feeling in the zoomed-out version that this is an outdoor movie. There’s the greens of the grasslands and jungle, the browns of the desert, and the bright blue African sky. They even set the mood for the villain, though all of the movies do a pretty good job of that. Scar’s early scenes are darker, bland in comparison to the bright colors of the Pridelands. The elephant graveyard background is practically the same as the hyenas’ coats. Scar’s “Be Prepared” scene is ominous, to say the least, with eerie greens and dark silhouettes (and goose-stepping hyenas for that Nazi vibe). Mufasa’s death is a smoky tan from the dust of the wildebeest, with all of the colors so subdued to echo the somber tone. They could have done the standard dark, rainy scene, but they’ve got to save that for the end, of course (although it works better there, with the rain being life-giving instead of mournful as Simba becomes king). And, of course, Simba and Scar’s confrontation is a dark, subdued pink that blazes into fiery red once, obviously, the fire starts. It all works really, really well. This is done, as with the other films, mostly in backgrounds and not in an overall color mask like in Aladdin, with the few exceptions of the fire and nighttime scenes, for obvious reasons.

Anyway, so I hope you like my take on the colors of the Fab Four (most notably, Aladdin), and hopefully you’ll give more thought to this easily overlooked subject when rewatching your favorite Disney movies.

 

Related Posts:
Little Mermaid Comics
The Disney Animal Paradox
Disney Heroine Body Swap – Part One
Disney Heroine Body Swap – Part Two

Aladdin’s Family Tree

If you’ve been following my blog, you might have seen my collection of what-ifs about missing Disney parents. Out of all of the movies, I have focused a lot on Aladdin because 1) Aladdin is one of the Fab Four of Disney movies (along with The Lion King, Beauty & the Beast, and The Little Mermaid, for those who don’t know), 2) I really like it, and 3) we get the unique opportunity to meet a parent from both sides of a relationship, so filling in the missing pieces is a lot easier. Here’s a collection of the Aladdin ones in handy family tree format. Check out their stories in the links below!

Aladdin family tree copy

(Click to enlarge)

Aliyah (Disney What-ifs: Jasmine’s Mother)
Samira (Disney What-ifs: Aladdin’s Mother)
Layla (Disney What-ifs: Aladdin’s daughter)

Related Posts:
A Friend Like Him
Disney Without Magic: Aladdin
Disney What-ifs: Belle’s Mother
Disney What-ifs: Ariels’ Mother

Disney What-ifs: Belle’s Mother

Sorry, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any original content (or content at all, for that matter). My posts take a ton of work and video games require a lot less effort, so… Yeah.

Anyway, here’s another post about the most elusive of all creatures: Disney mothers. This time, Belle’s mother, absent from Beauty & the Beast.

Belle's Mom copy

Rosalie loved books, though it was hardly surprising. Born the oldest of three daughters to a renowned literary scholar at the university in Paris, she had access to one of the finest libraries in all of France from a very young age. Though, as a woman, she was unable to officially attend the university, her father strongly believed in educating all of his children with a strict curriculum of mathematics, literature, philosophy and natural science, and allowed Rosalie to sit in on all of his classes.

And so it was that Rosalie met a bright young man at the university, Maurice, who was studying the sciences and who fancied himself an amateur inventor. She could not help but be fascinated with his creations, some of them impractical but all of them imaginative. There was also such an earnest enthusiasm in him that she found infectious, and soon she found herself falling for him. She helped root his inventions in reality with pragmatic thinking and lots of library research, and he kept the sometimes too-serious Rosalie young at heart.

After knowing each other for two years, Maurice proposed to Rosalie. He had created a contraption for the task: a box designed to open with a crank that revealed an expanding sign bearing his proposal. Unfortunately, the mechanism had jammed and failed to open. After several minutes, a lot of elbow grease, quite a bit of hammering and a bit of help from Rosalie herself, she could at last give her emphatic yes.

Rosalie and Maurice were joined a few years later by their daughter, Belle, who had inherited her father’s imagination and her mother’s beauty. Soon, Belle became as voracious a reader as her mother, and the young girl spent countless hours in the university library alongside her mother. Belle also regularly assisted her father with his inventions, fetching tools and reaching into small spaces that his own hands could not fit inside. Rosalie regularly had to be the grounding force when Belle and Maurice were swept up in idealistic fancies–Belle was constantly fantasizing about all of the places she had read about and wanted to visit, and Maurice encouraged her dreams by designing a mechanized hot air balloon to take the journey. Fortunately, Rosalie managed to stop them before Maurice could construct the device that would have undoubtedly blown up half of Paris.

Rosalie loved Paris, loved the university in which she had grown up, but the city streets were dirty, the winters harsh, and Rosalie was often sick. Belle would read at her mother’s bedside whenever a particularly violent cough would keep her bedridden. Soon enough, when struck by a severe bout, her doctor recommended fresh, country air as the only likely cure for her persistent illness. Sad to leave Paris, the family moved to a small, provincial town far from Paris. They chose a lovely house on a private lane with plenty of room in the basement for Maurice’s inventions and a lovely den in which Belle could read the few books they could bring with them.

However, it was at her mother’s bedside that Belle spent most of her time, reading to her as she always did during her convalescence. They no longer had the entire library contents of the university at their disposal, but Belle was happy to travel into town to the bookkeeper’s and was his most loyal customer. Belle would return home and tell her mother of the happenings in town–which were always the same–and of the people–who always seemed to treat the book-loving inventor’s daughter as something of an anomaly. At least the townfolk were kind, and always asked after Rosalie’s health, even though few had actually met the bedridden woman.

Rosalie was most entertained by Belle’s stories of Gaston, a local hunter who had been enamored with her since their very first day in their new town and had been pursuing her with gusto. “Perhaps you should consider accepting him,” Rosalie suggested one day. “It sounds like he is a handsome young man, and as a hunter your family would never want for food…”

“Mother,” Belle replied with a smirk, “Gaston does not even like to read.”

“How positively primeval,” said her mother, and nothing further was said on the matter. In fact, Gaston was so out of the question as a suitor to Rosalie that, from then on, she always referred to him as “that hunter.”

As Rosalie’s illness grew worse, she did her best as the realist in the family to inure her daughter to the possibility of her health not improving. She instructed Belle on the keeping of their finances, which had always fallen under Roslie’s purview– considering Maurice’s often scatterbrained behavior–and gave her advice on the managing of their household, most of which duties Belle had long since assumed.

“And make sure your father eats,” Rosalie had instructed. “When he gets caught up in a project, sometimes he forgets. And you will have to make certain that there is food on the table. I know the last thing you want to do is discourage your father’s ambitions, but no matter how revolutionary an invention of his could be, it will not bring any bread if it does not work. You need to keep him grounded when I am not here anymore.”

Despite the doctor’s hope for her improved health in the fresh air, Rosalie passed away just a few months after moving to the country. Belle had wanted to return to Paris, but in the end they decided to remain in their new home, if only for the sake of their finances. The city was expensive, far more so than the expense to travel to fairs in neighboring towns where Maurice could exhibit and possibly sell his more successful inventions.

Rosalie’s family coped each in their own way. Maurice thrust himself even more deeply into his work, trying to keep himself occupied to keep the grief at bay. Belle disappeared into her books, the more fantastical the better, to take her away from the banality of life without her mother. One day, she decided, she would travel the world, to find the adventure she was always reading about in the books that she and her mother had once shared.

 

Artist’s Notes:
So, I like to reveal trade secrets about the design of these characters because I spend so much time trying to get it right that I want someone to know how hard I worked. It’s difficult with animated characters to make the parents similar enough to their children that they’re recognizable, but not look like carbon copies of each other. (Frozen, anyone? They didn’t even try.) Unlike with most of my Disney mothers, she is not a composite of other people, at least not in the face. She is all Belle. It’s interesting because I spent a lot of time staring at screen shots trying to find the right angle that I started to notice the differences in art style between animators, or for different shots. Far shots they don’t have a lot of detail, but for super close-ups, there’s just so much of it. This is the shot I used in the end (left) and compare it to a more “typical” Belle look (right):

Closeup Far shot

The second one is a lot more cartoony and she looks a lot younger, too. It’s not just the hair, either. Granted, Belle is squinting in the first picture, but her eyes aren’t typical the Disney-fied ginormous things, and her lips are way more pouty, the nose is more elegant… So, yeah, I definitely picked the first photo for the base, altered the face shape a bit, picked some different lips from another shot and shifted the eyes so they were actually looking in the correct direction.

The gray hair was a challenge. At first, I didn’t have any, but then I realized Maurice’s hair is all white. My reasoning is that they probably waited a long time before having kids, or they just couldn’t until Belle decided to make her appearance. So, since they were maybe a bit of an older couple, even if Rosalie was younger, they could both be going gray. Here’s the original without the gray, which I like better, but that’s just because I really wasn’t happy with the stripey-ness:

Belle's Mom copy

I tried to look at some other older Disney characters for reference but, like Maurice, they just go for the all-white or all-gray look, probably because it’s easier to animate. One exception is Mulan’s mom, who has two big swaths of gray on the sides, which really does work for her hair style, but Rosalie’s was so wavy that doing some stripes at the temples wasn’t going to look right. Even Ursula’s got two gray stripes on the sides, but her hair’s white to begin with, so big deal.

Her body and blanket are actually Cinderella’s. I tried to make my own bumps under the sheets, but it wasn’t going well, so I cheated.

Also, yay for me continuing my streak of not having mothers die in childbirth!

Related Posts:
Disney What-Ifs: Jasmine’s Mother
Beauty and the Beast Gender Swap
Disney Without Magic: Beauty and the Beast
Disney What-Ifs: Aladdin’s Mother
Disney What-Ifs: Ariel’s Mother

Obligatory Copyright Notice: Beauty and the Beast, all of the character names and original images  belong to Disney. Rosalie is a creation by me and is a work of fan art. No copyright infringement is intended.

Ursula Gender Swap

It’s time for another gender swap! In a previous Little Mermaid swap, I envisioned the gender-swapped Ursula the Sea-Witch as Urkel, but we’ll call him Ulrich to keep the sort of Germic theme of the names.  (Also because the part of me that grew up watching TGIF can’t read/type Urkel without giggling).  So here he is: Ulrich the Sea-Warlock.

Ursula gender swap

(Note: In the picture I kept Ariel as she is, mostly because I’m lazy but also because there’s something far creepier about this whole deal-with-the-devil scene than in the original.  But for the sake of the story, I’m swapping all the genders, just to see what happens.)

So, Ulrich’s story isn’t much different than Ursula’s.  He wants to be king of the ocean, hates King Triton (Queen Triton?) and tricks poor Eric (because he’s the mermaid in my version) into selling his voice for some legs to woo Princess Ariel on the surface.  Eventually he gets popped by Ariel’s ship and all is well down under the sea.

What is interesting is how different the character’s behavior would be.  Rewatch the movie and you’ll see what a diva Ursula is.  In fact, it was really hard to get a screenshot of her where she wasn’t doing something that might be considered overly feminized.  She does a lot of hip thrusts, arm flails, sly smiles and the like.  She’s almost a little drag-queen-ish (no offense to drag queens.  Many of them make better women than me.)  I feel like Disney probably would have made a male version of her into a smooth talker like Jafar or a fast-talking, double-dealer like Hades.  For my purposes, I’ve made him into more of a trucker-looking character, but what kind of personality would fit that? I don’t know.

Bonus: Before and after!

Ursula gender swap - before and after

I just want to make some notes on the changes I’ve made.  I’ve changed nothing about Ursula’s original weight.  Nada.  In fact, I actually took off a few of his lower poundage so that I could give the illusion of muffin-topping.  I guess black really is slimming.  Nonetheless, it makes me a more than a little offended that the “evil” character has become the “fat” character.  True, it does make Ursula one of the more recognizable villains solely based on her character silhouette (big ‘ole octopus with a bit of an updo), compared to all of the super-skinny stepmothers, witches, queens, etc.  (There are a few exceptions…very few.  For a truly awesome critique on Disney character designs, read this.)

Despite this, I decided to keep the flab, going so far as to give Ulrich some moobs.  (Yes, now I have “moobs” in my search history when I looked them up for reference.) The fingers got a little wider for the man-hands, he got a five o’clock shadow, and added a bit more mullet, thicker eyebrows, removed the makeup and made him a shell wristband instead of a shell necklace.  (I had wanted to make a shell belt buckle but the combination of muffin top and the total lack of pants meant that it wasn’t feasible).

Related Posts:
Little Mermaid Gender Swap
Little Mermaid Comics
Disney What-ifs: Ariel’s Mother
Disney What-ifs: Young Triton

Obligatory Copyright Notice: The original images, characters, etc. are owned by Disney.  The altered artwork is mine, and is a work of fan art.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Disney What-ifs: Jasmine’s Mother

We’ve got a twofer today! Two of my different photoshop tropes: younger Disney characters (see previous: Young Triton) and missing Disney parents! We’ve got another missing mother, this time Jasmine’s mother, and a young Sultan.  Here is their story.

Jasmine's Mom copy

 

Aliyah had everything she could possibly want and more.  As the daughter of a powerful sultan, she had wealth, elegant clothes, sumptuous feasts, and a menagerie of exotic animals.  She had never left the palace her entire life but she didn’t care–who wanted to go out into the desert anyway? The palace was an oasis of luxury that she never cared to leave.

That isn’t to say that life wasn’t hard for her from time to time.  Her father the sultan was a hard man, a force to be reckoned with if you were unfortunate enough to be one of his enemies.  He was strict, though never outwardly cruel, and cared little for the pampering his wife gave to Aliyah.  He didn’t want her to be spoiled, often using words like “honor” and “duty” in long speeches that she endured but generally ignored until she was free once more to have servants dote upon her with peacock feather fans and plates of savory morsels.

Then there were the suitors–oh, the suitors!–with their mountains of gifts and their love letters filled with words of such passion.  Aliyah’s older brother, and heir to the throne, was overprotective of her to a fault, chasing the suitors away with his sword and threatening any who dare touch his sister.  That didn’t mean she didn’t steal a kiss or two from them when her brother was out of sight, or bat her eyes at them from across long feasting tables.  She adored their affections, drinking them in like fine wine and imagining which would be the one to ask for her hand.

Then, one day, everything changed.  Aliyah’s father informed her that he had arranged a marriage on her behalf with a prince of faraway Agrabah.  She had never heard of Agrabah, nor met this young prince.  He had not been one of her many suitors; what if he were ugly or, worse, boring?

Her pleas to her father fell upon deaf ears; his decision was final.  Her brother, once so protective, also turned his back on her when she asked him to intercede on her behalf.  Even her mother, who had always catered to her every whim, did nothing to help her daughter.  In the end, Aliyah had to reluctantly accept defeat, and watched as the servants packed up her every belonging to take with her into this new, uncertain life.

The journey to Agrabah was long, the wedding brief and the wedding feast lavish.  But soon enough, it was over.  The guests departed and her family only stayed long enough for the two sultans to discuss such tedious matters as the new alliance their children’s marriage had created.  Then she was alone.

Her new husband, Hakim, was not the dashing prince she had expected.  Short and squat, he seemed to devolve into nervous mumbles every time she was in his presence.  It was weeks before he said more than a sentence to her.  Even now that they were married, he seemed to spend more time playing with his animal figurines or stopping in at the menagerie to gaze upon the real thing.

The palace of Agrabah was far lonelier than she had expected as well.  Far from the bustling palace she had grown up in, with the lavish parties, the hordes of suitors, her father’s advisors and servants galore, there seemed to be very few people with which to socialize.  There was merely the sultan, Hakim, a few servants, some guards and…him.

His name was Jafar, a tall, mysterious man who served as the Sultan’s Grand Vizier and chief advisor.  This was the kind of man she had expected to marry, someone charismatic with a silken voice and silver tongue.  Jafar was a flatterer, to be sure, but that was one of the things Aliyah missed the most about home, to be loved and adored more than any other.

One day, Aliyah had confided her dissatisfaction to Jafar about her new life and her disappointment in her new husband.  “You want to go home, Princess,” replied Jafar, “and I want to help you to go home.  But alas, that is something far beyond my power.  But there is someone who can…” “Who?” “A genie…with the power to grant you any wish your heart desires.  It would be able to take you away from Agrabah without damaging this new alliance your marriage has formed.  But…it would require some assistance from you…”

Jafar explained that the location of the lamp was guarded by magic and that, legend says that when the two halves of an enchanted beetle medallion are joined, they will lead the way. “One of the halves is rumored to have been discovered by your great-grandfather. I have attempted to treat with your father the sultan many times over the years about the medallion, but my requests have been ignored.”

“But how am I supposed to get it?” Aliyah asked, doubtful.

Jafar merely grinned. “I thought you wanted to go home…”

Jafar explained the plan. Aliyah was married now; she could not just return home to live with her parents once more. She could, however, visit.  It was only fitting, Jafar explained, that her new husband travel with her to visit the family she had left behind, to see the home that had once been hers.  While there, she could investigate the matter of the talisman (“Discreetly, of course,” Jafar noted).  She went about organizing the journey.  Hakim jumped at the opportunity to see another land, making the arrangements with the sultan as Aliyah wrote to her parents to tell them the news.

Hakim spent the week-long journey peppering her with questions: What was the palace like? Did her family have a menagerie? Was the palace surrounded by a city, like Agrabah, or did it stand alone? Was it near the sea, or the desert? It was the most she had heard him speak since their vows on their wedding day.  She found it easy to talk about her home, telling stories of bustling court life and the games and antics of her childhood, her many brothers… He hung on her every word and for the first time in her life, she felt like someone was genuinely interested in what she had to say.  In her whirlwind of suitors and admirers, everything was false flattery to which she was expected to reciprocate with coy glances and secretive kisses.  No one had ever simply had a conversation with her.

Once they arrived and had settled in at the palace, Aliyah went about her search for the medallion, consulting with her father’s vizier, investigating old writings and making inquiries about precious artifacts discovered within the last few hundred years.  She was told the same legend that Jafar had alluded to–that there once was a genie’s lamp hidden in a place called the Cave of Wonders, which had been lost for millennia.  Aliyah’s great-grandfather had indeed found the beetle medallion, which matched the description of one half of the key.  Where the other half was, no one knew, just rumors and speculation.  The medallion was being kept in the palace vaults, but without permission from her father–unlikely–and no believable reason for her to enter even if he would agree, there was no way she could get her hands on the beetle key.

Aliyah and Hakim remained a month in her family’s palace, touring the area, catching up on recent news. Hakim tried his best to keep pace with Aliyah’s many brothers, but he was neither a good sword fighter, nor horseman, nor storyteller, nor much of anything.  Her brothers mocked Hakim when he was out of earshot, questioning the sultan’s sense at making a match for Aliyah with such an unfit husband.  Aliyah ignored their jibes at first, for she had long since thought the same, but as the days and weeks passed, she began to see him in a different light.  So what if he couldn’t ride, or fight or tell stories? There were other qualities that he had in spades: kindness, generosity, a gentle spirit and a love of animals.  Her brothers could be cruel when it suited them, much like their father, even to Aliyah; Hakim had never spoken a harsh word in his life, to Aliyah or anyone.  That realization put an end to the behind-the-back taunting of her brothers, and from then on, Aliyah defended and supported her husband in all matters.

One night, Hakim confessed that he had heard her brothers mocking him and apologized for being such a poor excuse for a husband.  He wasn’t handsome or eloquent or talented–if he wasn’t a prince he would never have hoped to end up with a woman like her.  “If you want,” he offered, “you can stay here and I will return to Agrabah.  Our alliance with you people will continue, but there doesn’t need to be a marriage to enforce it.” That’s when Aliyah realized it: she didn’t want to stay anymore.  “I want to go home,” she replied, “to Agrabah.”  So she returned, not with the medallion, but with her husband–not just in name but in truth, and with heart and mind, body and soul.

When Aliyah informed Jafar of what had occurred, that she hadn’t been able to access the medallion, he was vexed; when she told him that she no longer needed a genie for her happiness, he was furious.  Still, he took the news with a gracious smile and a few reassuring words. “Remember, Princess,” he warned, “that a time may come when a genie’s magic might come in handy…”

The months passed, with Aliyah soon giving birth to a beautiful daughter, which she and Hakim named Jasmine. Hakim doted on her as any father would, hoping to pass on his love of animals to Jasmine with a gift of a baby tiger named Rajah for a pet. Despite Aliyah’s fears that a tiger at full size could swallow young Jasmine whole, the two became fast friends.

Things suddenly changed for the worse one day when Jafar informed her that she and Hakim had been summoned to appear before the Sultan in his chambers. As Jafar went to find the prince, Aliyah went straight to the throne room, a decision that would forever change the course of her life.

The Sultan was alone, but not seated upon the carved elephant throne as she had expected, but out upon the balcony that overlooked the palace grounds to the streets of Agrabah beyond.  Despite the short stature that he had passed onto his son, the Sultan had managed to climb up onto the railing, balancing treacherously on its edge.  Aliyah yet out a cry of alarm and immediately ran to his aid, trying to help him, to pull him down from the ledge.  She had managed to grab him seconds before he would topple over the edge and yet he shouted furiously, “Let go of me!” over and over again, beating away her hands with his fists in hopes of breaking free.  Then, with a fateful cry, the Sultan slipped from her grasp and fell to the ground below.

Aliyah gasped, turning for the door that would lead her down and out to the front of the palace, only to find her way barred.  Just seconds before, Hakim had entered with Jafar at his side, having just arrived for the meeting with the Sultan that would never take place.  “Thank goodness you’re here,” Aliyah began, “we have to help the Sultan! He could be hurt! He could be–” She couldn’t speak the word.

Aliyah tried to explain to Hakim what had happened, to tell him how she had found the Sultan already on the ledge, how she had tried to help him but he resisted and fell.  Hakim tried to listen, to understand her side and remain impartial.  Meanwhile, Jafar had disappeared to rally the palace guards and servants to tend to the Sultan.  He was still alive (thankfully), but both of his legs were broken and his head had received a nasty blow.  The first words out of his mouth were, “Arrest her!”

And so, Aliyah found herself in a part of the palace she had never seen before: the dungeon.  Nearly three day passed in which the only sign of life in the dungeon was the guard who slid her bread and water through a hole in the door each day.  Her first and only visitor was Jafar.  He explained the situation, that the Sultan had accused her of attempted assassination, that she had tried (and succeeded) to push him off the balcony.  She tried to plead her case as she had that day in the throne room, that he had been already on the ledge and that she had been trying to save him, but it did not matter.  “I tried to explain that to the Sultan, Princess,” Jafar replied, “but he claims that he was waiting for you and Hakim to be summoned for a meeting when you attacked him.  I believe you, but think for a moment on whose story is more plausible…a foreigner, married recently into the family, whose husband is next in line for the throne and her daughter the next after that? Or the Sultan?”

Aliyah’s tears flowed uncontrollably at this. One minute, her life was perfect–a caring husband, a beautiful daughter, a blissful existence–then the next she is a prisoner accused of attempted assassination.  “What’s going to happen to me?”

“The law is very clear.  The sentence for the attempted assassination of the Sultan is…death.”

“Death?” she gasped, clapping a hand to her mouth.

“Never fear, Princess,” soothed Jafar.  “It took a great deal of convincing, but I managed to convince the Sultan to opt for a lesser sentence…if not for you, then on behalf of the prince and your young child.  Still, the Sultan believes that the punishment must still be severe in order to prevent similar attempts in the future.  The Sultan has decreed that you be banished from Agrabah. For life.”

“Banished?”

“Banished,” he echoed.  “You will be allowed to return to your home.  No fault will be found with your father, your people, or your land.”

“But what about Jasmine?”

“To separate a child from her mother would be a monstrous thing, I agree.  But the Sultan was very clear on the matter: to allow Jasmine to leave Agrabah in the company of a convicted traitor…well…” He doesn’t explain further, but she understands.  She will be going alone.  “But… There is a way to fix this terrible misunderstanding…”

“How?”

Jafar smiled cryptically.  “The solution is just a wish away…” At first, Aliyah didn’t understand.  Then, she did: the genie.  She would be going home, to where the beetle medallion was still hidden safely behind locked doors.  All she needed to do was get the pendant to Jafar, he could find the Cave of Wonders and use the genie’s lamp to wish everything back to the way it was: no balcony, no banishment.

Jafar goes on to explain that, because of the nature of her crime, she will not be allowed to contact the palace directly again.  Instead, he will send along his personal pet parrot to carry any messages between them.  She wonders if it’s safe to entrust such an important matter to a parrot.  “Trust me, Princess.  Iago is very well-trained.”  They make the plan. Aliyah will return home, find the medallion, and send word back to Agrabah through Iago.

When the day finally comes, Aliyah has only a few short minutes with her husband and daughter.  Jasmine is too young to understand her words, so Aliyah gives her daughter a gentle kiss on the forehead and a whispered, “I love you.”  To Hakim, she says, “I never meant for any of this to happen.  I hope you believe me.  And know that I truly did love you.” She doesn’t give him time to reply.  If he no longer felt the love they once shared, she did not want to know; and if he did…it would break her heart to leave him with that knowledge.  Then, she was gone.

Aliyah’s father the Sultan was furious at her treatment, being accused and cast out as she had been.  It took all her persuasion to keep him from declaring all-out war on Agrabah, but there was nothing she could do when he decided to call off the alliance her marriage had created.  Her last tie to Agrabah (well, all but one) was broken.

It took many months, but eventually, Iago would take flight bearing a short message, just three words: “I have it.” Jafar’s arrival soon followed.  She plied as much information about Hakim and Jasmine as she possibly could–how were they? Did Hakim ever speak of her? Did they miss her? Had the Sultan’s anger cooled so that she could return? The answers she received did not cheer her.  Jafar claimed that the Sultan was even more furious with her after news of the alliance’s end, and Hakim had all but moved on.  It was this latter piece of news that had inspired Aliyah to hand over the beetle medallion at last, a medallion she had managed to acquire from the royal vault through less than honest means.  “You swear that you will use the medallion to fix things, to put them back the way they were?”

“My dear Princess,” Jafar replied in his silkiest voice, “It is you who will be able to do that.  A genie grants three wishes to any that hold its lamp.  I will have three wishes, then I will make sure you will have yours.” With that, and with the medallion in hand, Jafar departed just as quickly as he had appeared.

Weeks passed, then months without word from Jafar.  Aliyah had no idea what had happened, whether he had been delayed or had forgotten his promise entirely.  All of her letters were ignored, every messenger she sent was refused entry to the palace.  As time passed, she began to think the worst, that she had been duped, used, betrayed.  She began to wonder if Jafar was just as much of a pawn as her; after all, he was the royal vizier, an advisor to the Sultan.  Could it have been the Sultan who had so desperately desired the genie and its lamp? He had accused her so vehemently and so falsely that it could only have been a lie to protect his own true purpose: the beetle medallion stored in her family’s vault.  Perhaps he had even arranged the whole marriage to his son for this exact purpose.  Now that he had the genie, the Sultan didn’t need her anymore.

She had been only half right.  Her marriage had been arranged as a ploy for the medallion, but not by the Sultan.  It had been Jafar all along.  Jafar, who had become obsessed with the legend of the Cave of Wonders, who discovered the truth about Aliyah’s great-grandfather and his discovery of the medallion, who had arranged the marriage to gain access where once he was barred… Jafar, who had hypnotized the Sultan into balancing on the balcony railing in order to frame Aliyah once she no longer sought the medallion, who had convinced the Sultan to lessen her sentence to banishment so that she could try to retrieve it once more… Jafar, who had lied, who had made Aliyah believe that he already possessed one half of the medallion when in fact he had none.  Jafar, who would spend another dozen years or so searching for the Cave of Wonders before a thief named Gazeem would find the missing medallion and would pay far more dearly for it than Aliyah had.

Aliyah grew more bitter as time went on.  No longer did she pine for Hakim, nor long to return to Agrabah.  As long as the Sultan, the man who had falsely accused her of a crime she hadn’t committed, still lived, she could never go back.  Aliyah’s father wasted very little time in arranging another marriage for her, the taint of her alleged crime in Agrabah notwithstanding.  She was still a princess, and in her father’s mind, that meant that she could still be useful in making alliances through marriage.

Her new husband was handsome and strong, sharp-witted and a master horseman, the kind of husband she had longed for what seemed like a lifetime ago.  Together, they had four sons, just as strong and handsome as their father, but never another daughter. Still, she was happy and content, and most importantly, loved.

As the years passed, the sting of her time in Agrabah lessened, and she hardly thought about the treacherous Sultan, the conniving Jafar or her kind Hakim. But every now and then, she would stare across the desert to where Agrabah stood unseen, think of her darling Jasmine left behind, and wonder.

 

Bonus: Before and after!

Jasmine's Mom - Before and after copy

Artist’s notes: The sultan (in this story, Hakim) is a little skinnier than he is in the movies, his beard a little more tamed and his hair no longer white.  Aliyah, on the other hand, was a much different story. She is based on Jasmine, of course, so that I can justify their familial relationship as well as save myself some grief, but despite the amount of changes I made (the nose, lips, eyes, and eyebrows are all different, plus the hair is free whereas Jasmine always had it ponytailed, plus some added accessories), she still ended up looking like Jasmine a lot. (That’s the main reason for the veil, as contrast.  I don’t know a ton about the culture but I’m pretty sure veils were mostly for concubines and harem women, but I don’t want to imply that with her.  It’s strictly a design choice). I kept their necklaces the same because I wanted there to be some tie between Jasmine and her mother, even though I didn’t mention it specifically in the story.  Aliyah is wearing an altered version of the outfit Jasmine was wearing right before Jafar uses Genie to take over the palace, with a color change.  I wanted to make sure the clothing seemed stylistically similar to the original but in the end I decided to steal it instead.

Author’s notes: This took a long time for me to hash out in my head. Those who actually read my blog regularly might realize that this is the story that I’ve been working on and postponing over and over again.  The story practically wrote itself at the beginning, but then I needed a reason for Aliyah to not be in Jasmine’s life anymore.  The whole mother-dying-in-childbirth is too obvious a trope (I have thus far managed to avoid it with Aladdin’s mom, Ariel’s mom and in the as-yet-unwritten Belle’s mom), so I decided to go deeper.  Jasmine can be a little self-centered at times, and she didn’t get that from the Sultan, so where did she get it from? Also, I love tie-ins to the established storyline (for example, making Triton’s hatred for humans being based in his person history in my Little Mermaid what-if), so I thought I’d throw in some of Jafar’s backstory as well.  It got a little convoluted in my head for a while, trying to figure out how to get Aliyah out of the picture while keeping it vaguely Disney-esque (yeah, I know it gets a little dark there with the assassination attempt, but seriously, go watch the first two Aladdin movies again.  Jafar is DARK.) There was even a bit in there with Jafar using his magic to try to turn Jasmine’s father into an animal for some reason (again, convoluted), and having this as an explanation of how Iago manages to talk when other animals can’t–i.e. that he got caught in the crossfire and got turned into a parrot.  Maybe I’ll do his backstory later. In any case, I’m pretty happy with this version, and though it’s sad for Jasmine and Hakim having their family torn apart by Jafar’s machinations, I wanted to give Aliyah a happy ending.  She really did love Hakim, and she really did love Jasmine, but she also really does love the man she ended up with.  She is a product of circumstances, but I tried to make her grow a little bit and not stay bitter forever.  I hope it worked, and that you enjoyed it.

 

Related Posts:
Disney What-ifs: Aladdin’s Daughter
Disney What-ifs: Aladdin’s Mother
Disney Without Magic: Aladdin
A Friend Like Him

 

Obligatory copyright notice: Aladdin is owned by Disney, as are the characters Jasmine, Jafar, the Sultan (whom I have named Hakim), Iago and Rajah.  The original images are Disney’s, the altered work is mine.  The characters Aliyah and the two unnamed Sultans are my creations, as is the story.  It is a work of fan fiction and fan art and no copyright infringement is intended.

A Friend Like Him

Genie quotes

I started this Monday night, the instant I heard the news of Robin Williams’ death.  His was the first celebrity death that really hurt deep down.  Before this week, news of a celebrity’s passing was always surface-deep, a fleeting thought of “Oh, that’s sad.  I really liked him.” This was a gut punch.

If I had to pick a mascot of my childhood, it would be Robin Williams.  He lent his voice to two great cartoon roles that my quote-loving child brain latched onto (much to my family’s dismay): Batty from Ferngully and, of course, Genie from Aladdin.  It’s a tribute to Robin Williams’ genius that the main reason Genie in Return of Jafar falls flat is not because of Dan Castellaneta ‘s voice acting (which we know from the Simpsons is phenomenal, and he did a really good job in the Aladdin TV show) but because of all the madcap improvising Robin Williams did.  The constant fire of gags in Aladdin and the King of Thieves returned, in my opinion, at the same time Robin Williams did.

It’s more than just his animated work, however.  One of my all-time favorite movies was Hook, which took a story I rather disliked (and a Disney movie I merely tolerate) and turned it into an unbelievable classic.  I still quote that movie to this day, and it’s one of those movies I always suggest when we need something in the background when playing games and whatnot (it’s up there with Clue and Spaceballs.) In Robin Williams’ hands, Peter Pan became not just a self-absorbed punk kid but a real, vibrant, multifaceted character.

Robin did more movies over the years, but it’s those childhood movies of mine that really stuck with me.  Robin Williams is my happy thought.  And I will miss him.

A short note about the art… It was definitely intentional that “Oh, to be free” makes up the lamp.  I think there’s a certain poignant duality there that I liked, even though the letters didn’t lend themselves to be lamp-ified.  It was likewise intentional that the quote at the very center is “All joking aside, you really oughtta be yourself”, and that it is front and center and by far the biggest of the quotes font-wise. I think that’s something that a lot of comedians struggle with: self-image and depression.  It’s easy to hide behind a mask of humor and your heart to be breaking inside.  It’s the “tears of a clown” idea.  I can imagine a kid with such a wild, manic approach to life, constantly doing impressions and cracking jokes earned a lot of scolding in school and from family to settle down, to behave, to stop being so silly.  That kind of thing takes a toll on a kid, and it’s something that can stick with you for all of your life.  Speaking as someone with ADHD who loved being the center of attention as a kid, I can relate.  I even sang “Friend Like Me” in an oversized Genie T-shirt in a third grade talent show and was told by my teacher afterward that I should have planned out my routine better and that I was just too disorganized in my performance.  That really hurt.  I had memorized the entire song, word for word, and those lyrics aren’t exactly easy and they fly at a manic pace. It took me many years of trying to fit in, trying to be what I thought people wanted me to be until I realized that “you really oughtta be yourself.”

 

Related Posts:
Disney What-Ifs: Aladdin’s Daughter
Disney What-Ifs: Aladdin’s Mother
Disney Without Magic: Aladdin

 

Obligatory copyright notice: Aladdin, Genie and picture text are copyright Disney.  This is a work of fan art.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Snow White Gender Swap

Time for another Disney gender swap! This time: Snow White and Prince Charming!  In true full-swap fashion, I’ll be switching the genders of all characters in the story, so this ought to be interesting.

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom ruled by a vain and narcissistic king who used to spend every day getting fashion advice from his magic mirror.  He was jealous of his stepson, who was growing more and more handsome with each passing day, so the king dressed the young prince Snow White in rags and made him work in the castle.  Snow White had skin white as snow and lips red as the rose.  He looks something like this:

 

Prince charming gender swap copy

 

One day when cleaning, a princess, Princess Charming, came along and saw Snow White and fell instantly in love with the handsome lad.  She sings him a love song and looks something like this:

 

Snow white gender swap copy

Unfortunately, the king sees this interaction and sends his huntswoman with Snow White into the forest to kill him and bring back his heart.  Fortunately, the huntswoman has mercy on Snow White and warns him to flee into the forest and away from the king.  He comes across a bunch of kindly animal friends, which he also decides to sing to, because that’s what princes do apparently.  The animals take her to a small cottage in the forest that is home to a very messy sorority full of dwarfs.  [[It’s funny when the dwarfs are men that they’re dirty slobs who don’t know how to wash their hands or pick up after themselves, but would they still be portrayed the same way if the dwarfs were women? Though there has been a recent trend in recent years to make the Disney princesses less perfect and more “real”, showing them with messy hair and snoring and things like that, I don’t think Disney would be okay with showing seven female dwarfs who are total slobs.  Even though there are a lot of girls who are messy, myself included.]]

Anyway, the young prince decides he can’t deal with the mess and starts going crazy cleaning the home of seven total strangers.  It’s the weirdest home invasion story ever reported on.  Meanwhile, the seven dwarfs, who spend their days working in a diamond mine, come home from double shifts to find a strange man in their house.  Instead of calling local law enforcement about the break-in, the women decide they have safety in numbers and approach the stranger asleep in their beds.  They decide to hire him as a live-in cook and maid.

Meanwhile, the king finds out that Snow White is still alive and turns himself into an old geezer in order to kill Snow White.  It’s not like he has a kingdom to run or anything… [[Seriously, I hope the queen has minions working on the day-to-day ruling, because she spends an awful lot of time obsessing over looks and about killing Snow White.  We don’t actually see her do anything queen-like in the movie.  Granted, you really don’t see that in most Disney movies, either, except for arranging marriages every so often.]]

After a night of partying (because that’s what a sorority girls do, right?) Snow White opens up about his princess.  He dreams that one day she’ll come and rescue him from his situation.  The next day when the dwarfs leave for work, they warn him not to let anyone into the house.  However, he decides that he knows best and lets in an old man selling apples.  The animals see this and run to fetch the dwarfs to help, but they come too late.  Snow White has eaten the apple and has fallen into an eternal sleep.

The dwarf girls chase a random old man [[Seriously, they don’t know it’s actually the queen, or that Snow White has been cursed.  They just had animals freaking out, trying to tell them to go back home, and then find an old lady standing there and chase her down.  Maybe the old lady was walking by and heard the screams as the queen was attacking Snow White, and they just chased her down like an animal.  Weird.]].  The king gets his comeuppance as he tries to commit mass murder by squashing them with a boulder as an improbable bolt of lightning cracks the rock beneath his feet and sends the king plunging to his death.

Feeling that he’s just too much of a hunk to bury, they put Snow White into a glass coffin so that everyone might ogle him.  The princess, who we haven’t seen since those first twenty seconds of the movie, returns to give her love one last kiss.  The kiss wakes him up, and Princess Charming promptly picks him up, puts him on her horse and takes him away before they even have a conversation about the fact that he is surrounded by dwarf women in a glass coffin.

The end.

 

Bonus: Before and after pics!

Prince charming gender swap side by side copy

Snow white gender swap side by side copy

Artist’s notes: I tried to make Snow White’s iconic outfit into a doublet and pants for the prince version.  Leaving them as-is made him look too girly.  Well, so does the doublet with puffy sleeves, but that was a legitimate style back in Shakespeare’s time.  FYI, yellow is not a good color for pants. I picked the reclining pose mostly so you can see that he’s wearing pants, but also just to emphasize just how ridiculous it is.  You might have noticed that most of my gender swaps have the girl-turned-guy in this position.  Well, it might not happen as often if Disney didn’t keep insisting on putting women in this pose.  I am a woman, and the only time I’ve ever been in this pose is when doing yoga.  It’s just not very comfortable.  We don’t do our dreaming in cobra pose.  We can do it sitting just as well.

As for Snow White as the prince, I rather like her outfit.  It’s still got the tunic in front, which I decided to keep because it looked really good with the belt and knife combination.  The sleeves are not as puffy to give the illusion that her arms aren’t as beefy as the prince’s.

 

Related Posts:
Minimalist Snow White
Cinderella Gender Swap
Little Mermaid Gender Swap
Rapunzel Gender Swap
Sleeping Beauty Gender Swap

Obligatory Copyright Notice: All characters and original images are owned by Disney.  The alterations are mine.  This is a work of fan art.  No copyright infringement is intended.