I simply loved the Aladdin 1992 Disney film and if you haven’t seen it yet you are doing yourself a huge disservice. However, the film had its problems and controversy as you will read about in the article below.
The History Of The Aladdin 1992 Disney Film
The Aladdin 1992 Disney Film is an animated musical fantasy comedy film that was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is Disney’s 31st animated feature film and the fourth to be produced during the Disney Renaissance.
Ron Clements was the producer and John Musker was the director.
Aladdin is based on the Arabic folktale of the same name from One Thousand and One Nights.
The voice case features some impressive actors, including Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Scott Weinger, Jonathan Freeman, Gilbert Gottfried, Frank Welker and Douglas Seale.
The film is about Aladdin who is a street urchin who finds a magic lamp containing a genie. Aladdin then disguises himself as a wealthy prince and tries to impress the Sultan so that he can marry his free-spirited daughter, Princess Jasmine.
The Disney Aladdin Film was released on the 11th of November 1992 and became the highest grossing film of that same year earning over $504 million in worldwide box revenue. Aladdin became the first animated feature to reach the half billion dollar mark and was the highest grossing animated film of all time until it was surpassed by the Lion King in 1994.
Aladdin earned itself two Academy Awards as well as other accolades for its brilliant soundtrack. ‘A Whole New World’ became the only number from a Disney feature to earn a Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
The film’s success led to more derived works inspired by the film including to video sequels. (The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves). It also led to an animated TV series and a Broadway adaptation. A live-action film adaptation directed by Guy Ritchie was released on the 24th of May 2019.
Unfortunately there were some elements of controversy that resulted from the making of Aladdin.
The first issue was that Robin Williams who played the part of the Genie was not paid the contracted amount for his work in the film or royalties that should have been due to him after the fact.
Although the original movie was a critically acclaimed masterpiece, it was also dripping in Orientalism and harmful racist depictions of Arab culture. The new film by Guy Ritchie has mostly managed to shirk much of its inspiration’s exoticism and cultural inaccuracies, but despite Ritchie’s clear efforts to deliver a more respectful version of Aladdin, it wasn’t quite enough to satisfy many of its detractors.
The original lyrics in the first verse of the song Arabian Nights described Arabia as “Where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face”. This was changed by Disney for the soundtrack.
Dr Jack Shaheen, one of the most respected and loudest critics of the vilification of Arabs in Hollywood, successfully campaigned for offensive lyrics to be changed in the original Aladdin soundtrack.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations acknowledged that the “Aladdin myth is rooted by racism, Orientalism and Islamophobia.”
What’s fascinating about the origins of this tale is that, even though 1001 Nights has been traditionally translated in English as Arabian Nights, the original story was set not in the Arab world, but in China. Early 19th and 20th-century versions of the story clearly show Aladdin as culturally Asian.
Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the film when I saw it back in 1992 and have often since used some of the music for plays and dance items. I had never heard of all the controversy surrounding Aladdin until I researched it a little more for this article.