Mystical, fabulous, colorful… These were the words which I had in my mind when I read the stories of One Thousand and One Nights as a kid. I loved the wisdom of Scheherazade. Of course, I dreamed of the adventures of Sindbad and Ali Baba. But especially I was fascinated by the romantic story of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp.
ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS
Certainly, countless children all over the world experienced the same. While listening to the mystical story or reading it, they dreamed of a brave young guy and his big love, the gorgeous princess. They dreamed of magical places with amazing palaces and buildings. Moreover, they dreamed of vivid markets full of wonderful people. Of course, there were some dark villains too. But, the good triumphed at the end.
ALADDIN – MORE THAN A MOVIE
Hence, it wasn’t any wonder, that Walt Disney’s 1992’s film adaption of Aladdin became one of the most popular and successful animation movies ever. Of course, the amazing score, Robin Williams voice performance as Genie, the fabulous characters and pictures were a reason for the success.
But the story goes deeper. As usual, Walt Disney thought global and choose the release date of Aladdin well thought out. So, the film came into the cinemas one year after the Gulf War. Thus, it could be considered as a sign of reconciliation and international understanding, not only at that time.
Today, we experience a similar situation. After years of darkness, we have war, terror as well as economic warfare in our minds instantly, when we think of the Middle East. Furthermore, we think of hundreds of thousands of refugees, who try to escape from their home places.
Before, many of those places were such beautiful ones, as we know them from the stories of Arabian Nights. Today, they are destroyed, dangerous or misunderstood.
While some countries like the Jordan or the Oman still represent the beauty of the orient, others stand just for war and destruction. The people there suffer from misery. The beautiful smile on their lips as well as the magical shine in the eyes disappeared. Their hearts are full of pain and fear. However, the world leaders try to find ways to abandon those people in need to their fate. Although, especially these leaders are responsible for most of their problems.
ALADDIN SHINES IN A NEW BRIGHT LIGHT
So, it was time again to present that movie, which builds bridges to unite the humankind. A film which shows the beauty of Arabia to the young as well as the old. Moreover, a film, which opens the hearts of people all over the world: Aladdin.
Walt Disney’s remake of Aladdin is a true firework of colors, light and sounds. The story is known. The young thief Aladdin finds a flying carpet and a magic lamp. The ghost of the lamp, a blue skinned Genie, fulfil three wishes to the master who owns the lamp.
Actually, Aladdin has just one wish. He wants to marry Jasmin, the sultan’s beautiful daughter. But, the law prescribes, Jasmin must marry a true prince. However, the gentle Genie is very smart. Thus, he tries everything to help to make Aladdin’s dream come true. But the dark sorcerer Dschafar has other plans.
THE CAST & CHARACTERS
THE GENIE – WILL SMITH
Of course, Robin Williams set the bar high. With the unique humor in his voice, it was certainly a big challenge to find the right guy, who could play the role of the cheeky but smart ghost.
Will Smith was a perfect choice. Actually, he is the Genie. We met him in Berlin during the press conference and on the red carpet of the Aladdin Gala Screening. Will Smith is smart, gentle, very cheeky and funny.
He presents his complete talent range on the screen. He dances, sings and acts in an overwhelming way. In those scenes where he appears as ghost are just CGI. But they are also very cool and funny. However, those scenes where he appears as real person, are simply great.
With a smart humor – never too less, never too much – he makes the audience laugh as well as sometimes cry. Will Smith plays the Genie with such a great heart, that it’s simply a pleasure to watch his acting.
ALADDIN – MENA MASSOUD
The Canadian actor with Egyptian roots embodies the cult figure Aladdin perfectly. Of course, caused by the 1992’s animation movie, almost three generations had a special image of Aladdin in mind.
However, nobody will be disappointed regarding Mena’s performance. He plays the bit naïve but smart young thief in a charming and very warm way. Even when Aladdin makes mistakes, the audience will love him totally.
A special highlight is the dance scene. Mena shows, that he isn’t just a great actor, but a very good dancer and singer. The VALEUR team loves that guy.
WALT DISNEY’S ALADDIN PRESENTS ALSO AUTHENTIC CHARACTERS
When I watched Troy years ago, I thought during the entire movie: “Wtf has Diane Kruger to do with Helena in Homer’s classical novel Iliad”. Moreover, when you watch old western films, you will see American actors, who were painted red to play Indians.
Luckily, nowadays, the expectations are very high, to see actors, who really embody the fictive or real person. Furthermore, who are one with the character. It’s a big challenge, but Walt Disney handles it with bravura.
JASMIN – NAOMI SCOTT
In The Book of Thousands and one Nights (also known as The Arabian Nights) Aladdin falls in love with the beautiful princess Badroulbadour. Walt Disney changed the sultan daughter’s name to Jasmin. Of course, it sounds nice and is certainly easier to speak and remember.
Howsoever, when you read the book, you have a very personal imagination of the impressive figure. She must be extremely beautiful, smart, charming, lovely… Furthermore, Disney visualized that person already in 1992 as an anime character, which was loved by everybody.
So, it was another big challenge to find a person, which represents the beauty of the Orient and the classical character as well as the self-confidence of modern woman.
The perfect match was Naomi Scott. The British actress is simply gorgeous. She is funny, intelligent, cool and down-to-earth.
Moreover, she is the Jasmin. She embodies all the important character points of the classical character with such an overwhelming performance, that she will probably receive millions of love letters from all over the world. But, bad news, since 2014 the popular footballer Jordan Spence is Naomi’s prince in reality.
Dschafar – Marwan Kenzari
Dschafar is the opponent of Aladdin. He is selfish and power-hungry. Thus, Marwan Kenzari had to face the challenge to play a bad guy in a movie which is mainly addressed to young people as well as to young-at-heart ones.
The Tunisian-Dutch actor, known from Murder on the Orient Express and The Mummy, did a good job. So, he is dark, but not too much. However, for some actions enthusiast his character could be probably not dark enough. But in context with the story and the movie, Dschafar is a typical Walt Disney villain.
DALIA – NASIM PEDRAD – THE HIGHLIGHT
Dalia is Jasmin’s maid and best friend. Nasim Pedrad plays this role with such an easiness and humor that you will get tummy ache, because of laughing about her jokes. Nasim is very cool and hilarious. She is an absolute highlight of Disney’s Aladdin. We hope to see her more often! More, more, more…
ALADDIN – A BRIDGE TO THE ORIENT AS WELL AS TO INTERNATIONAL UNDERSTANDING
So, Aladdin is more than a movie. It’s a bridge between cultures. It shows us, that the Orient is full of smart and beautiful people. Furthermore, it shows us, that some villains aren’t representative for a whole culture or religion.
Aladdin is simply amazing. Director Guy Ritchie made a very good job. The pictures are breathtaking and blow you into the seat. The eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken composed a score which will stays in your head for weeks. The actors became the characters.
When you watch Aladdin, you will forget the reality for 2 hours. But and this is the most beautiful thing, when you switch off the TV, you will think about the world.
It’s possible that you will recognize, that wars, terror, misunderstandings are simply stupid. Hopefully, you will have the wish to meet people from the Middle East, to talk with them about their life and to fall in love with them to create a better world together.
Finally, you could, as long as you open your mind and understand the message of that movie.
10 points from VALEUR!
More on the official Walt Disney Aladdin Website: Click here.
Pictures: Disney 2019