One Jump Ahead
“Riffraff,” “Street rat”
I don’t buy that
If only they’d look closer
Would they see a poor boy?
They’d find out
There’s so much more to me…
Here comes a wave meant to wash me away
A tide that is taking me under
Swallowing sand, left with nothing to say
My voice drowned out in the thunder…
…I won’t be silenced
You can’t keep me quiet
Won’t tremble when you try it
All I know is I won’t go speechless
‘Cause I’ll breathe
When they try to suffocate me
Don’t you underestimate me
‘Cause I know that I won’t go speechless
To be heard.
To be seen.
To be known.
This, my friends, was the purpose of Aladdin.
I want to discuss a few scenes that stood out to me as hugely important for the story, but even more than that, they rang true for the world we live in.
Scene 1: Aladdin giving up his dates for the starving boy. Aladdin intervening on Jasmine’s behalf in the marketplace. Aladdin saving the girl from being trampled by Prince Ander’s entourage.
A combination of many small moments that clearly define Aladdin’s heart. He is a colorful character with large helpings of mischief and insecurities, but there is one overwhelming fact about who he is.
He is the diamond in the rough. Aladdin essentially lives hand to mouth, but he is not completely self-focused. He sees the needs of those around him and intervenes on their behalf.
It is this heart that wins Jasmine over. She’s seen enough glittery people to last a lifetime, what she longs for is substance. She finds substance in this street boy with a big smile and kind eyes.
Substance over style. Style fades, substance grows.
Scene 2: The Best First Date Ever
Likely the most iconic Aladdin scene in existence, the magic carpet ride where Jasmine and Aladdin get a chance to connect is beautiful.
In the animated movie, we see our two lovebirds fly around well known worldwide landmarks such as the Sphinx in Egypt or the Great Wall of China.
In this version, the landscape is far less defined or varied. I believe this was done for the purpose of enabling the audience to focus in more on the two people in the scene and their intentional interaction with each other.
One moment Jasmine is holding onto Aladdin’s arm as he makes a steep turn, another moment he’s handing her the “reins” so she can have a turn flying. They are singing together, he’s looking at her with pure delight because of her joyful response. She is enthralled with the opportunity he has given her to be 100% herself at this moment.
He loves conversing with her and he wants to hear what she has to say.
You can see the power created by these two. Aladdin’s life experience and mingled with Jasmine’s authority and education make them the perfect couple to lead Agrabah into the future. They share a similar heart that points them both in the same direction.
So many people are struggling with communication. So many people are involved in power struggles with one another that not only cause them harm, but also those around them who depend upon them.
Jasmine and Aladdin struggle, just like anyone else, but they persevere, and when the credits roll they have reached a strong place of connection.
Scene 3: Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar. Jasmine’s almost wedding to Jafar.
The new song “Speechless” is one that brought tears to my eyes. We need to be paying attention right here. The two cultures represented in this fictional world are the Arab/Middle Eastern culture, and the Indian culture. Jasmine represents both.
These two cultures are among the worst in the world for how horribly they abuse and oppress their women. Many Middle Eastern women are wrapped up from head to toe, they cannot drive, they cannot be educated, they cannot work, they cannot even go places without a male escort.
They are not to be seen and certainly not to be heard! Women are treated like despised objects or pretty toys to be used on a whim.
*This may not be the case for every woman or family in these countries, it is not in any way my intention to claim that or disrespect those who are from these places but not living this way. But the injustice I speak of is a true reality for millions, and we need to be willing to stand up and acknowledge that without fear of “offending” someone. These women deserve more courageous actions on their behalf.
In India, millions of women have been downtrodden for centuries. Many of the old traditions are harsh on women. If a woman cannot produce children (which is often the result of abuse or malnutrition), she is often scorned and abused by either her husband and or her in-laws. Women fear to walk to someplace as necessary as the village well for fear of being raped or murdered on the way. Oh yes, rape often isn’t even treated as a crime. Thousands of women have died from starvation, abuse, murder, malnutrition, or working themselves to death.
These silenced, abused, downtrodden women are crying out for a voice.
Jafar takes personal pleasure in controlling and silencing Jasmine.
The look of glittering delight in Jafar’s eyes as he forces her to speak vows of marriage to him turned my stomach. I saw that scene in horror, as I can imagine just how many precious women throughout history have found themselves in the same situation. Unlike Jasmine, however, there was no one coming on a magic carpet to give them a way of escape.
This scene was a cry for justice. A cry for the women Jasmine represents who are precious and beautiful, who have amazing things to share with the world. These women who remain unseen, unheard, buried.
I know I went out of order here, but let’s talk about Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar that happened before her forced almost-marriage.
She is being led away by the guards who were her own servants but a moment before. Her beloved father and handmaiden are unable to help her. She had to silence Rajah (who was glorious) to keep him safe.
In her mind’s eye, she pictures everyone else disappearing, every person who is an obstacle to what she knows is right. She cannot be silent, not this time!
Rather than just swallowing it again, Jasmine makes her stand.
She speaks out in a strong voice. She ignores the degrading words of Jafar and focuses all of her energy on speaking to Hakim, the noble lead guard who truly desires to do what is right.
Jasmine speaks to him personally, she knows his story and she cares about it. She appeals to his integrity and deepest desire to do the right thing. She exposes her deep heart of love and compassion for “my people”. And she gives him an opportunity to change his course of action. At this moment with the information they have, Hakim is a pivotal character for what happens next.
Jasmine sees him, she calls him by name. She knows his story and his heart, which means she has heard him. Jasmine does not speak on her behalf but rather on the behalf of her people, he and his people are her priority. And Jasmine gives him an opportunity to make a different choice, she gives him a chance to be his best self.
Jafar may as well be a shadow in the back of the room, all of Jasmine’s focus is on Hakim and the future of Agrabah. She doesn’t attack, she doesn’t tear Hakim down, she builds him up with truth and calls the good man out of him.
It’s a beautiful, powerful, encouraging scene. While it seemed to do little good at the moment, it does truly change everyone’s future as Jasmine unconsciously opens her father’s eyes to her true worth as a strong and virtuous leader for Agrabah.
Scene 4: Aladdin Selflessly Walks Away
Both Aladdin and Jasmine are given opportunities to be heroic in the climax of this movie, but it is called Aladdin for a reason. When it comes down to it, Aladdin is the one who has to defeat Jafar.
Aladdin is not a brawny warrior like Hercules. He’s not a gallant and gorgeously arrayed prince like Phillip or Charming or even Beast once he’s been declawed. Aladdin is very simple and straightforward.
The reason Aladdin became “Prince Ali” and got himself involved in this mess was a noble one, he loved a girl and wanted to win her heart. During that time he has been stripped down to the core of his deepest longings and hurts, and he almost loses focus on who he is because of it.
But here is where the diamond comes out.
Aladdin has the humility to recognize his mistakes and turn them into life experience. He sees the flaw in Jafar’s arrogant plan and manipulates Jafar into a natural course of actions and consequences. Jafar’s own pride and ambition lead him to the prison he chose for himself. #poeticjustice
Aladdin just saved the day. He could reason out that he deserves another wish, a wish that could elevate him in the eyes of the world and especially the eyes of the woman he loves. Instead, he again shows that selfless spirit and keeps his promise to free Genie even though it gains him nothing materially.
Aladdin just saved the royal family, an arrogant “hero” would demand recompense.
He does not. He looks at Jasmine, still loving her as much as the first day he met her, and he apologizes. He looks at everyone with humility and respect and walks away. #thisissosexy #jaladdinforever
As Aladdin walks out of the palace to return to Agrabah’s streets, he looks down at Jasmine’s hair barret with deep tenderness. He loves her and treasures her, and he always will. But because he loves her he is willing to walk away because he believes that is what is best for her.
Jasmine has been treated as a pretty bird in a cage. Not a person.
A mere prize to be won, not a heart to fall in love with.
An obstacle to control or crush (I’m lookin’ at you, Jafar).
A child who must remain hidden for her protection. Not a mature young woman.
It’s all about what someone can get from her, or keep from her, or keep her from.
It was humble, it was peaceful, it was confident. Somehow Aladdin walks out of that gate with his head held high because he now knows his own worth, and he stayed true to his noble heart.
Yeah, I’d run after him too, Jasmine. #substanceoverstyle #diamondintherough #putaringonit #jaladdin
I loved that Jasmine runs to him on the street by herself. No guards, no entourage, no handmaiden or father. She may be the sultan now (a quick line that she uses to tease him) but she truly comes to him as herself. He heard her, he knew her for who she was when no one else did.
It’s humble, it’s normal, it’s sweet. And they have a beautiful kiss among their people, in the streets where they came together, in the streets of the place they both love.
Jasmine knew her own worth but struggled to be heard. Aladdin doubted his own worth, he struggled to be seen.
Jasmine saw Aladdin, and Aladdin heard Jasmine.
And God saw that it was good, people. It was good.
Holy cow! Y’all, what? Robin Williams created Genie, and no one can ever replace him! Will Smith not only honored the character Williams created but he also didn’t try to replace him, he became his own Genie.
Genie took me by surprise multiple times, while he was not anywhere near as spastic as Robin’s Genie, he was regularly unexpected.
The Genie/Dalia romance was brilliantly used to fill in the story/characters and add a lighter balance to the romance scale. Jaladdin was dealing with heavy-duty issues that held kingdoms in the balance, Denie was talking about goats and boats. We needed both. #denie #jaladdin
I can’t imagine being trapped and forced to do the will of whatever jerk happened to grab your lamp and give it a rub. If you actually consider Genie’s life, it’s pretty horrible.
Genie fell in love with Dalia, and he desired a normal life. He has all the power in the world and yet he’s as much a prisoner as someone in a dungeon. Dalia increased my longing for Genie’s freedom. When Dalia was being pressed down by Jafar’s dark power Genie’s sorrowful face for the woman he loves made my heart hurt. He was helpless to protect her.
This isn’t funny anymore, this is real.
The look of pure shock and deep emotion on Genie’s face when he realizes he is free was a beautiful moment. I loved the hug he gave Aladdin. The hug+his face spoke volumes.
I wasn’t overly fond of how the movie began, I felt it had a weak opening, but by the end, I was in love.
I did enjoy the first shot that skimmed over Jafar in the desert, Jasmine in her palace, and the torchlit houses of Agrabah.
But I felt that they rushed through the iconic scene of Aladdin weaving his way through the streets, stealing and smirking aka making a nuisance of himself. And since they made the decision to combine Aladdin’s first introduction with him and Jasmine meeting for the first time, I think they should have given it a less choppy, sped-up rhythm. It was an unnecessary sacrifice that bought them nothing.
I recognize that the filmmakers wanted to flesh out other parts of the story more, and I respect that. I just do not think they made the right call in how to carry that out.
Let’s talk Jafar.
I heard some people complaining that Jafar was too weak. He didn’t look or sound as scary as the animated one.
Ahem…have y’all seen the animated one? The animated Jafar is not anatomically correct. Animated characters are often exaggerated for effect or to bring across a specific message.
So please, drop that argument. This is supposed to look real, this is a real human playing this character.
And Jafar? Jafar was savage.
Real villains aren’t always weirdly shaped with angry eyebrows and menacing voices. They are often normal-looking people with dark hearts. Jafar was a villain who was all too real, he reminded me of some true villains from history. Jafar was also supposed to be a dark reflection of Aladdin, someone who Aladdin could have been. Jafar even makes the comparison to Aladdin outside of The Cave of Wonders.
Jafar made my blood boil. 10/10 villain status.
This is the first live-action Disney Prince(ess) movie that I feel could actually support a sequel.
I have loved all of the live-action remakes up to this point. But I do not think that all of them need sequels. Cinderella was a very intimate, self-contained story. It was perfect. Beauty and the Beast was a more complicated tale, but it finished itself well at the ending. You feel whole by the end of both films.
While Aladdin also leaves you feeling deeply satisfied, you also have room for more.
I was utterly delighted in this movie, they got the big things correct and made room for fleshing out the story and characters. They delivered big moments and characters while also filling in a thousand tiny details (magic carpet building a sandcastle, anyone?)
Aladdin is my favorite old prince(ss) movie. I was so excited for this live-action version and I was not disappointed. I am enjoying myself immensely and I cannot wait for more!
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2 thoughts on “Aladdin”