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.

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

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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:

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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

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.

Disney What-Ifs: Aladdin’s daughter

So, I’ve done a lot of theorizing about various Disney character’s families, either the missing parents (Aladdin and Ariel’s moms) or extrapolating younger versions of known characters (Triton, for one), but now I will be focusing on a different branch of the family tree: children.  What would the kids of famous Disney couples look like?  Here’s my first attempt with the hypothetical offspring of Jasmine and Aladdin:

Aladdin and Jasmine offspring copy

[[Author’s note: I decided to make Aladdin’s child a girl because, for one, it’s a Disney movie and princesses sell.  Look at the sequels… Little Mermaid sequel: daughter.  Lion King sequel: daughter.  One of the few exceptions is Lady & the Tramp, which has a bunch of female puppies that look like Lady, and one Tramp-like mutt that hates his well-to-do life and goes out on the streets.  Hence, another reason I made Aladdin’s kid a girl, because I would be tempted to do something similar with her story.  Son of a street rat wanting to reject his posh life to become a street rat? I wanted to step out of the Disney trap of the recurring return-to-the-origin kind of story, as was done in Little Mermaid II, Lady & the Tramp II, and possibly some other ones I’m forgetting.

Artistic note: Layla is truly an amalgam of both Jasmine and Aladdin.  If you look carefully, you can see Aladdin’s nose, Jasmine’s body, Aladdin’s hair, Jasmine’s eyes (reshaped to more closely match Aladdin’s), Aladdin’s mouth but Jasmine’s lips, plus Aladdin’s altered hair and eyebrows.  I gave her Jasmine’s necklace as well, because I like the idea of mother passing jewelry to daughter, but the rest is hers.]]

 

Layla had an interesting childhood, growing up in the palace of Agrabah as the daughter of the Sultan.  It took her many years to realize how extraordinary her life was, and she was nearly ten years old before she even began to suspect that being entertained by a wise-cracking genie and flying around on a magic carpet were anything but normal.

But despite the very real magic that surrounded her life, Layla was more enchanted by the magic of books and stories.  She spent hours in the palace library, reading books and scrolls recounting wondrous tales of far-off places and evil sorcerers.  Her father, though often busy with his duties as sultan, would spend his spare hours indulging her love of stories with a few of his own.  When Aladdin had tried to tell her of a young street rat who married a princess and later became sultan, Layla hadn’t believed him.

Though Layla shared her father’s thirst for adventure, she had also inherited her mother’s fiery spirit.  Like Jasmine before her, Layla soon found herself chafing behind the palace walls.  By the time she entered her teenage years, she was longing to finally see the places in her books, not just read about them.  Her first escape over the walls on her father’s flying carpet went poorly; Genie had spotted her and, after a failed attempt to convince her to return home, had transformed into a World War II dogfighter and shot her down before she had even flown beyond the palace walls.  But she had seen the palace from above, the city streets of Agrabah below, and there was nothing that could stop her from attempting to see that whole new world awaiting her beyond.  After Layla’s second attempt–Carpet was no longer an option, but Abu was always open to bribes of bananas–landed her with a scolding from her father.  “The streets are not safe for a princess,” Aladdin warned.  “Trust me, I know.” Still, her father promised to take her on a tour of Agrabah soon enough.  Days turned into weeks, however, and weeks into years, and her father’s duties as sultan always delayed the trip.

For Layla’s sixteenth birthday, there was a great festival in Agrabah with royal and noble visitors from all across the land to celebrate.  Many sultans from other lands approached Aladdin and Jasmine with offers to arrange a marriage with Layla with their own sons.  They politely refused all offers, explaining that in Agrabah, a princess is allowed to marry whomever she wishes–although the offer from Sultan Achmed, who as a prince had wooed Jasmine and found himself attacked by her pet tiger instead, was less than politely refused.  Achmed’s mere presence had reminded Jasmine of the succession of suitors forced upon her by her own father and she resolved to not allow her own daughter to suffer the same.

Nonetheless, Layla found herself besieged with suitors, princes of neighboring lands all hoping for a dance or even a short conversation with the sultan’s daughter.  She was eager for their company, not because thoughts of romance had entered her mind but because of the stories they brought with them.  They told her of intrigue in their courts, of folktales and adventure stories, romances and mysteries.  One young man in particular, Malik, captured her imagination with flowery descriptions of his own palace by the sea, for Layla had never seen a body of water bigger than an oasis and longed for this new experience.  When Malik offered to take her with him, she jumped at the chance.

It was the first escape Layla ever made that had succeeded.  The palace was so full of visitors that not only Aladdin and Jasmine were distracted, but also the palace guards.  No one noticed Layla and Malik leaving–that is, except Carpet.  After some difficulty trying to get across his meaning through pantomime (and Genie trying to guess a la an elaborate game of Charades), Aladdin was off to find his daughter and bring her back.  With Carpet’s aid, Aladdin caught up with them quickly enough, finding them in the middle of the searing desert.  Aladdin’s heartfelt plea for her return and the promise of a long-awaited journey–as a family–began to work it’s magic on Layla.  However, when she told Malik that she had changed her mind, his true form was revealed.

The handsome Malik’s disguise fell away, and he revealed himself to be a creature made of fire and shadow, possessed of magic the likes of which Aladdin had not seen since the return of the sorcerer Jafar.  With a scimitar of flame, Malik was able to defeat Aladdin and kidnap Layla, taking her away upon wings of fire.

[[Side note: if this were a Disney movie, I imagine we would get to see Aladdin and Jasmine’s point of view as a side plot: Aladdin returning home defeated, explaining what he had seen in the desert.  Genie would undoubtedly do some schtick, like going through his rolodex and trying to remember why he recognized Malik’s name, with people popping out of the rolodex as he named them.  “Let’s see…M, M, M…Mark Twain…Maleficent…Mork & Mindy…” Cartoon Mork (i.e. Robin Williams): “Na-nu, na-nu.” Genie: “Ugh, I hate that guy… Oh, here it is… Malik.” Genie reveals that Malik is an ifrit, a creature of fire and shadow with magic as powerful (or more so) than a genie.  Malik and Genie have history from thousands of years ago before he ended up in the Cave of Wonders.  Genie is terrified of him, but reluctantly agrees to help Aladdin rescue Layla.  But this is Layla’s story, so we’ll be sticking to her from now on.]]

Malik took Layla far away from Agrabah to his palace by the sea.  However, it was far from the paradise he had described to her, its towers and domes fallen into near ruin.  Upon arrival, Malik revealed that he stole Layla away in order to marry her.  He has a palace and has made himself a sultan…and now he needs a bride.  They are to be married that very night.

Thinking quickly, Layla protested, “You can’t marry someone the same day you’ve met them!” “Why not?” retorted Malik.  “It’s bad luck! Don’t you know the story of the Fisherman and his Bride?” Malik: “No, and do not try to distract me with idle tales!” Layla offered him a coy shrug.  “I guess if you’re willing to suffer the same fate, then that’s fine with me…”  Just as Layla hoped, Malik demanded that she tell him the story so that he could avoid the same calamity.  When her story had ended, Malik agreed to stall the wedding until the next evening.

Layla was still a prisoner, but at least she was free enough within this ruined palace.  She combed the grounds, searching for points of weakness or any hint of an escape route.  Unfortunately, though the palace was in shambles–crumbled towers, whole rooms without roofs–the walls were tall and intact, and this time, she didn’t have a flying carpet.  Besides, if she escaped, where would she go? She had no idea where she was, and there was nothing but desert to one side and an endless sea to the other.  She might have been the only person in hundreds of miles.

During her exploration of the palace, Layla discovered a menagerie filled with exotic animals–parrots, monkeys, goats and even an elephant.  She realized after just a few moments that the elephant’s size might be just enough to give her the boost she needs over the palace walls.  However, that hope is quickly dashed as she spied the chains around the elephant’s ankles, preventing it from leaving its pen.  “Oh, you poor thing!” she exclaimed, entering the pen and tending to the animal.  “I’m not a thing!” replied the elephant.

Layla: “You can talk!”
Elephant: “Of course I can.”
Layla: “But you’re an elephant.  Elephant’s can’t talk.”
Elephant (confused): “They can’t?”
Layla: “Not as far as I know, though I do know a talking parrot…”
Elephant: “Don’t be ridiculous.  Parrots can’t talk.  At least, I don’t think they can.  My memory’s a little spotty.”
Layla grins.  “I thought an elephant never forgets…”
Elephant: “Wait, I’m an elephant?”

It turns out that the elephant’s memory was indeed not very good, and he often forgot crucial parts about his past, even the most obvious fact that he had a trunk, which tended to have a mind of its own.  The only thing he could say with confidence was that his name was Bashir and that he had been Malik’s prisoner for over a year.  From her extensive knowledge of stories and folklore, Layla has identified Malik as an ifrit, a cunning and wicked magical being, and she explained to Bashir that she’s trying to escape and promises to take him with her when she does.  “You’ll be welcome in Agrabah.”

When night fell the next day, that fateful evening when Layla was fated to wed Malik, she tried to stall with another story, this time one so long that it lasted late into the night, and Malik struggled to keep his eyes open during it.  That’s when Layla discovered Malik’s weakness: she could put him to sleep with her stories.  All of those hours in the library had paid off!  She implemented her plan right away, continuing her winding, unending tale until Malik couldn’t help but fall into a deep sleep, delaying her marriage for yet another night.

That’s how her stay at the ruined palace progressed for several weeks: Layla delaying her inevitable marriage to the ifrit with stories at night and plotting her escape during the day.  She prayed for a rescue, but she never gave up hope that she could find a way out on her own.  If only Bashir had been a camel and not an elephant, she would have braved the desert with him the instant she found an escape route.

Yet there was a light in this endless darkness: Layla had Bashir, not just a fellow prisoner trapped by Malik, but a true friend.  One day when visiting him in the menagerie, she broke down and confessed her regret at the rashness of the actions that led her here.  She has realized what wonderful, supportive parents she has always had and how foolish she had been to think she had been a prisoner under their care.  The world was such a cruel place, she realized, and they were only trying to protect her from it as long as they could.  This was the real prison.

Bashir, in turn, looked forward to Layla’s daily visits, asking her about everything imaginable in the hopes that something would spur his memories to return.  She told him stories as well, not the long, boring ones meant to trick Malik to sleep but her favorites, ones of daring swordfights, magical spells and faraway lands.

Then, the moment Layla had been waiting for arrived: Layla discovered where Malik hid his keys.  She put Malik to sleep as she always did, then stole the keys and unshackled Bashir.  As she did so, Layla explained, “I have Malik’s keys.  Tonight, we’re going to escape.” “I can’t leave,” replied Bashir.  “Why not?”  “I don’t remember.  I just know I can’t leave.” “Did Malik put an enchantment on you to prevent you from leaving?” However, Bashir doesn’t know.  Either way, Bashir decided to help Layla escape, even if he couldn’t leave himself.

As Layla opened the front gate of the palace, she found that what Bashir said was true: neither one of them would be able to leave, for Malik had created a magical barrier around the palace that alerted him to their escape.  Back in his true form of smoke and fire, Malik flew down into the main courtyard to stop them.  With his magic, Malik turned Bashir into a beetle with the intention of squashing him once and for all, but Layla flung herself between Bashir and the fiery ifrit foot, begging him not to hurt Bashir.  “I’m the one who set him free,” she explained, “and I’m the one who wanted to escape.  But I promise that if you change him back and let him go, I’ll marry you.  No tricks, no stories.”

Before Malik could agree, there was a knock at the palace door, which then swung wide to reveal Genie in a loud sportscoat and a mustache, doing a fast-talking door-to-door salesman schtick.  He managed to distract Malik for a while until at last the ifrit became suspicious, ripping off Genie’s fake mustache.  “It’s you!” Malik exclaimed, recognizing Genie from their past dealings some ten thousand years ago.  In a Ricky Ricardo impersonation, Genie shouted, “Lucy, I’m ho-ome!” just as Aladdin flew in on Carpet and Jasmine rode in upon Rajah, proud parents willing to risk their lives to rescue their daughter.

Scooping up Bashir and clutching the beetle to her chest, she decides to help her parents fight off Malik by freeing all the animals from the menagerie for a distraction.  Malik is powerful, however, and soon has bested both Aladdin and Jasmine, who must duck out of the action or risk mortal injury.  Their family is reunited though not yet safe as Malik unleashes his full power.   However, the ifrit and the genie have a face-to-face, full-on magical confrontation, Genie emerging from the fray victorious.

“Genie!” cried Layla when it was all over, laying the beetle-Bashir on the ground.  One of his frail legs looked broken from the scuffle and he was barely moving at all.  “Can you help him? Can you change him back?”

Genie offered to try his best, doing his hand-waving with his usual flair and using his magic to reverse Malik’s spell.  A warm, red glow surrounded Bashir as he began to transform, growing larger and larger.  Two of his beetle legs began to disappear as the others began enlarging, a head growing up out of the black beetle shell.  When the magic faded away and the transformation is over, Bashir is barely a quarter of his elephant’s size, with two legs instead of four and no trunk to be seen.  He is human.

“Did I pick up the wrong beetle?” Layla asks, astounded.  She studies him for a moment, then asks, “Bashir?”

The man, who had been looking at his arms, legs, and other body parts, touched his nose and suddenly shouted in alarm, “Ack! What happened to my trunk?”

“It’s is you!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him in a tender embrace. “But how?”

Bashir, whose memory slowly began to return now that Malik’s magic spell had been reversed, explained how he found Malik and was tricked into bringing him back to his palace.  “Your palace?” asks Layla.  “Then you’re a prince?”  Bashir smiles.  “I am–well, I was–the sultan.   I was young and foolish, and Malik promised to serve me and use his magic to help me rule.  Instead, he took over my palace, turned me into an elephant and proclaimed himself sultan.  And now look at it.  It’s ruined…”

“Nothing a little spitshine won’t fix,” Genie offers, using his magic to return the palace to its former glorious state, complete with a banner that says, “Welcome Home, Bashir!”

Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie gave Layla and Bashir a moment alone. “Thank you for saving me, Layla.  Without you, I might have been an elephant forever.”  He took her hands in his.  “I guess you’ll be going back to Agrabah now…”

“I guess I will,” she replied, “but what I said was true: you will be welcome in Agrabah.” She gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek.  “Come and visit any time and I’ll visit you as often as I can.  Oh, and don’t forget to write.”

Bashir smiled.  “An elephant never forgets.”

 

Related stuff:
Disney What-ifs: Aladdin’s Mother
Disney Without Magic: Aladdin
Disney What-ifs: Ariel’s Mother
Disney What-ifs: Young Triton

 

Obligatory copyright notice: All characters belong to Disney, with the exception of Layla, Malik and Bashir, who are my creations.  This is a work of fan art.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Disney What-Ifs: Aladdin’s Mother

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there (and a special shout out to mine! Love you, Mom!) In honor of our beloved mothers, here’s a tribute to a Disney mother that we never got to meet.  Unlike a lot of Disney mothers who are absent from the movies without explanation, we do get the tiniest hint of Aladdin’s mom.   We know from Aladdin that he’s a street rat, and we know he’s an orphan (“I’d blame parents except he hasn’t got ’em”).  Or is he?  We find out this is not the case in Aladdin and the King of Thieves when we meet Aladdin’s father, Cassim.

[[Can I just take a moment and try to convince you to watch this movie? No, I’m not asking you to watch Return of Jafar, unless you’re a glutton for punishment.  Granted, there are some good things about RoJ–a few decent songs, Iago’s redemption–but the plot’s convoluted, there’s two different villains (Abis Mal from the TV series and, of course, Jafar), and there’s no Robin Williams as Genie.  My advice is just skip the second movie and jump right into KoT.  All you need to know is that Iago now works with the good guys, though he’s still just as loud-mouthed and self-serving as ever.  In fact, the only mention of Jafar in the entire movie is in the opening song, saying, “Without Jafar and all his malice, everybody’s happy.  What could possibly go wrong?” That’s it. You don’t need to know how Jafar meets his end to know what’s going on here.  Plus, the songs are fantastic, it’s got John Rhys-Davies as Aladdin’s father, it’s got an entirely new plot, a decent villain, a magical object as intriguing as a genie’s lamp, plus Robin Williams back as Genie! The next time it’s out of the Disney Vault, just give it a chance.  I promise.  It’s good.  Quite possibly the only truly good Disney sequel.]]

In King of Thieves, Aladdin tells Jasmine, “My past…it’s a blank. My mother died when I was just a kid, and I never even knew my father. I have no idea where I come from.” Sad stuff, but it gets worse.  When Al finally meets up with his dad, we find out what actually happened to him all those years ago.  As Cassim tells it: “I knew exactly what I wanted for my family: the best.  I couldn’t give up and go back empty-handed. But the weeks turned into months and the months turned into years… I came back to Agrabah one night, but I couldn’t find my wife, or my son. I thought my family was lost forever. At that moment, I would have traded anything to get your mother back.” To which Aladdin responds, “We never wanted gold… We wanted you.  I wanted a father, I still do.” [[See? This movie is actually good.  It’s really a heartfelt investigation into Aladdin and his family and past.]]

From this conversation, we get a sense that, before their family broke apart, they had been happy.  There had been love between them.  We can see perhaps a glimpse into why Aladdin is such a “diamond in the rough”–it’s got to be his mother’s influence.  Let’s meet her…

Aladdin's Mom

Though Samira and her family never had much money, she felt like she was the richest person in Agrabah. She had a husband–Cassim–who worshipped the ground she walked on, who had been so infatuated with her that he had tried to convince her parents that he was a prince in order to win their favor.  It hadn’t worked, of course, but she had so adored his adventurous spirit and his winning smile that her parents eventually relented and agreed to the match.  Then, when their first son, little Aladdin, arrived, Samira’s heart leapt for joy.  She loved to watch Cassim tell Aladdin stories of far-off places and caves filled with wondrous treasure, of flying carpets and genies and sandstorms that a man could summon with a snap of his fingers.

Samira made a living taking in sewing and laundry; it didn’t earn much, but it was enough for her to live on.  Cassim helped when he could, disappearing for days on end and return with food and small gifts for her and young Aladdin.  She had long ago suspected that many of the items had been stolen, and though her conscience was heavy with the knowledge, she knew there was little she could do.  She could try to return the items, but since the punishment for thievery was having a hand cut off, it was not worth the risk of getting caught by the guards.  Instead, she did the best she could to urge Cassim to find steady work to provide for the family.  “Things will be different soon,” Cassim would say.  “I promise.” But all the promises in the world could not fill the hole in her heart left behind when Cassim went off in search of adventure and a better life for his family and never returned.

Raising a child on her own was not easy.  She had hated Cassim’s secret thefts of food for the family, but now that they were gone the money from Samira’s washing didn’t seem to stretch as far.  Aladdin was a growing boy, too, shooting up like a bean sprout every day.  It was hard to keep a belly like his full when he was always running around the streets of Agrabah, climbing up awnings like a monkey.  Aladdin was so like his father with a penchant for mischief and danger, but with a heart as big as the Sultan’s palace.  One day, she caught Aladdin stealing an apple from a merchant’s cart.  She was so ashamed by the act that she had slapped his hand away and brought him to tears right there in the middle of the marketplace.  Fortunately, Aladdin’s tears had been enough to distract the merchant and given them time to rush home before the nearby guards were alerted to the theft.

Once home, Samira scolded Aladdin, telling him how stealing was wrong and that the consequences of it were not worth the risk.  She never told Aladdin about his father, how she suspected that he had been captured and imprisoned on one of his foolish quests for gold and treasure.  She did not want her son, so like Cassim, to ever have to go down that path.

But Aladdin kept growing and eating, and even honest Samira questioned whether or not it would be so bad for young Aladdin, who had so effortlessly charmed the local ladies in town at the young age of five, to put his skills to good use and procure a little extra food for the family by whatever means necessary.  No, she told herself.  Never thievery.  Instead, Samira provided for her son the only way she could: when Aladdin’s dinner portions became bigger and bigger, Samira’s became smaller.  Aladdin was a smart boy, however, and began to notice the disparity in their portion size.  When asked about it, she would simply respond, “I’m not very hungry right now, Aladdin.  I ate while you were out playing.” Nights were always so cold in the desert, the days so hot.  Their already meager clothes began to turn to rags, and all the patches in the world weren’t enough to save them from the elements.  Samira and Aladdin would huddle together for warmth on those long, cold nights.

Hard work, long hours, cold nights, little food, ragged clothing… illness soon followed.  When Samira was too ill to work, Aladdin set out for help.  He was so young and such a charmer that he managed a few scraps for him and his mother–an apple here, a loaf of bread there–but nothing coming so close as the medicine he desperately needed.  Aladdin considered stealing what he needed, but he remembered his mother’s scolding and refrained.  Everything else he did, however, had not been enough.  Samira was gone; his mother was gone.

Aladdin was alone, just another street urchin without a family.  For a time, pity for the poor boy who had just lost his mother, combined with Aladdin’s natural charm, had earned him a meal or two.  But even the kindest of neighbors is not always so willing to take in an orphan when they already have so many mouths to feed.  But Aladdin was quick-witted and even quicker on his feet and found a way to outrun the local guards.  His mother had never wanted him to steal, but she was gone now, and he had to eat.

Still, he had inherited his mother’s kindness, her unwavering goodness.  There was never another urchin that he hadn’t tried to aid, whether it was to find them an abandoned building to use for shelter or to share his meal with them.  He never stopped dreaming, either, staring up at the palace and wondering what it would be like have everything his heart desired.  But he knew that even the Sultan himself couldn’t grant him his unspoken, secret wish: the mother he lost, that diamond in the rough.

 

Other Disney What-ifs:
Disney What-ifs: Ariel’s Mother
The Frozen Heart

 

Obligatory Copyright Notice: Aladdin, Return of Jafar, and Aladdin and the King of Thieves and characters are all owned by Disney.  The literary character Samira is my creation.  Original artwork is done by Disney, with screencaps curtesy of  disneyscreencaps.com.  Photoshopping was done by me as a work of fan art.  No copyright infringement is intended. 

Disney Heroine Body Swap – Part 2

I’ve got some more Disney heroine body swaps.  The premise: a bunch of Disney characters have a girls’ night and decide to trade clothes.  As before, I’ve grouped them by similar personalities, since they’d be likely to be friends.

 

The Quiet Ones:
Esmeralda & Pocahontas

Esmeralda on cliff copy Pocahontas dancing copy

Pocahontas and Esmeralda both have quiet temperaments but they still fight for what they believe in.  In addition, they both fall in love with a blonde hunk in shining armor, have mischievous, non-speaking animal sidekicks, prefer the outdoors to living within walls, and stand up to authority figures intent on humiliating and/or killing their friends and loved ones.

 

The Changelings:
Mulan & Ariel

Mulan in carriage copy Ariel on horse

This one’s a bit of a stretch.  The main thing that links Ariel and Mulan is the fact that they are both trying to be something they’re not–Mulan, a man, and Ariel, a human.  There’s also the fact that in both of my pictures have them handling horses, but that’s really secondary to their personalities.  Ariel and Mulan are actually vastly different in their approaches to family responsibility.  Mulan takes her father’s place to save his life without sacrificing her family’s honor while Ariel flat out disobeys her father at every possible turn.  Still, they’re both pretty spunky, so I’m sure they’d get along.

 

The Tempestuous:
Jasmine & Megara

Jasmine in villa copy Megara in palace copy

 

One thing’s for sure: Jasmine and Megara will always tell you what they’re feeling, although Meg channels her feelings into healthy sarcasm while Jasmine will just rant and storm out of a room.  They are also both locked into very unfortunate bargains.  Jasmine is being forced into marriage to a prince while Meg is forced to do Hades’ bidding.  They’re also unhealthily skny, as these images show you.

Anyway, those are all the heroines, at least the ones I care about.  Maybe next time I’ll do some prince body swaps.  We’ll see…

 

Related Links:
Disney Heroine Body Swap – Part One

 

Disney Without Magic – Aladdin

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…

Aladdin

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.”

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“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!”

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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.)

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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!)

Iago and Parrot - Cave of Wonders copy

[[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.

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“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.

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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.

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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…”

aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-1796

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.

aladdin-disneyscreencaps.com-2094

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?”

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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.

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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!”

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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–”

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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.

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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…”

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[[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:

Genie-human

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!]

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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.

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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!!!!

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[[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?”

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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...”

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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!

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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.