|Home Videos: Aladdin (1992)|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Tuesday, 10 May 2011 09:00|
It's only as I start to properly search through the pile of VHS tapes in the attic that I realise how many Disney films there are. So in an effort to get a few out the way before I can enjoy some of the other live-action "classics" gathering dust, I stuck Aladdin in the VCR this week. And you know what? I only went and blooming fell in love with it all over again.
Looking at the box, I really doubted the film's bold claim to be "the most spectacular animated classic of all time!" but it's almost as good as The Lion King. Almost. Plus it has the very latest technology in the fight against piracy: a shiny sticker.
Fight the piracy, people!
It helps that Aladdin is a story that everyone knows. A poor boy who falls in love with a princess while a genie and a lamp float around causing chaos? It's charming stuff. And in between the traditional fairy tale elements, folks in the street spit fire, juggle swords and steal apples. Nothing like a bit of social realism, is there? Mike Leigh would have a field day.
Arabian Nights - Original
Arabian Nights - Edited
I like the way they got someone with a completely different voice to record the replacement line. Just to make sure no-one would ever notice it. (Even better, they made sure they kept in the adjective "barbaric". Because that's a lovely way to describe a foreign culture.)
Directors John Musker and Ron Clements then wheel out their big villain: Jafar. As proven in The Lion King, you can tell how evil a villain is by the size of his beard. He's also introduced by a massive close-up of his eyes (complete with eyeshadow, natch), which only adds to his air of slightly arousing nastiness.
Just the way Jonathan Freeman says "Calm yourself, Iago..." in those plummy dulcet tones is enough to make your hair stand on end. He's almost as good as James Earl Jones. And check out those luscious lips. And that non-existent neck. And the sexy moustache. Oh yeah, he's a total Jafar Cake. I'd cover him in chocolate and lick his smashing orangey bit any day.
But don't be fooled by the skimpy clothes and excessive product in her hair: Jasmine's not some prize to be won. Yeah, that's right, you chauvinist pig. She even says so herself:
Although she's pretty easily won over by a magic carpet and a dancing elephant. Slut.
And then there's the music. Alan Menken's Oscar-winning score is musical gold, with songs that boast some of the best lyrics in any Disney film. Tim Rice came on board to do half of them after initial writer Howard Ashman died in 1991, and you can hardly notice the difference. It helps that they worked together on Beauty and the Beast the year before, but Rice nails Ashman's rhythms and wit and keeps the quality ridiculously high.
NOT A GENIE
Still, as hilarious as Robin's performance is, it's hard not to hate him for doing it. Mainly because he was responsible for introducing the tradition of casting celebrity voices as the comic relief. That inevitably led to Donkey in Shrek. And Eddie Murphy's fast-talking animal became annoying as soon as Shrek 2 came out.
Still, we should be thankful for Aladdin's success and influence upon the animated world. Without it, there would be no Lion King or Toy Story. Plus seeing it in 1992 gave me the perfect way to end every argument for the rest of my childhood. And for most of my adult life as well.
Aladdin, like all of the Disney films, will eventually be shown at the BFI this year as part of The Disney 50. Until then, it's available at all good charity shops for 25p.