Aladdin: an analysis

Here’s a post by Mari Ness, taking apart Disney’s Aladdin, as is her habit with nostalgic favorites. Not that she hates the film or anything, but her posts do always make me look at a film (or book) in new ways, as she discusses behind the scenes bits and reinterprets plot points.

My favorite tidbit:

Animators … more tentatively decided to try to animate a tiger again. Unfortunately, although computer assisted animation had managed wonders for backgrounds, camera movements, and creating the illusion of a camera speeding through paintings, it had not yet reached the point where it could make animating stripes easy or cheap. As a result, the tiger was eliminated from several scenes, and made to sit very quietly, only moving his head, in others. Animators over on The Lion King hastily reduced the number of zebras.

I always did regret how little space the tiger got! This explains the lack of general tiger coolness in the movie! Also, can’t you just *see* animators zipping over to The Lion King to erase zebras?

Of course I loved Robin Williams as the genie, but I had no idea that, as Ness points out:

Disney also ran into trouble with Robin Williams, who had agreed to do the film at far below his usual rates—as long as Disney did not use his name while marketing and promoting the film. Disney did use his name, leading to a feud that ended only when Joe Roth, who had replaced Jeffrey Katzenberg as the Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, publicly apologized.

That’s interesting, and honestly, I can see both sides. Revealing Robin Williams beforehand must have been just an overwhelming temptation, but certainly if I’d been Williams, I’d have been seriously ticked off.

Anyway, this post does a great job taking the movie apart and putting it back together so that it looks a little different to me. I think Ness writes my favorite posts at

Next up, I see Mari Ness says she’s going to take a look at The Lion King. I’ll have to keep an eye out. I really disliked the movie and I’d like to know how many of my thoughts about it get echoed in her post. I will say: I don’t expect Ness to mind the terrible portrayal of lion behavior. I mean, making the bad guy an uncle. An uncle! As if. With lions, no social bond is more important than the one between brothers.

Well, that sort of critique is for people into animal behavior, of course. When I saw it, with a friend, in grad school, we walked out of the theater and immediately redesigned the plot so it would work dramatically while still allowing the lions to behave more like lions all through.

Getting the lions wrong is not why I didn’t like the film, though. So I really will be interested in what Ness has to say about it.

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