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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Perfect Aladdin

Aladdin would be my favourite film if it wasn’t for the little known Godfather movies. What I love most about The Godfather, The Godfather part 2 and Aladdin is that every time I watch them, it feels like the first time.

Aladdin is one of the first English speaking films I saw and the very first one to leave me open jawed - I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was the first film I started to rewind, re-watching scenes in amazement (I still do this... yes, I maybe sad).

Also, Aladdin was one of the very first movies that I actually felt happy watching. It is a pleasure to watch this film: the laughs are still there after so many years and they haven’t quietened one bit; the ‘wows’ still surface and they haven’t been dimmed (the Genie reveal scene gets me every time); and there are genuine fearful moments throughout the film that haven’t stopped being scary ("A snake I'm I?").

I use the word love a lot, but I absolutely love this film with all my heart. I’ve owned it god knows how many times and to this day I am waiting for Disney to bring it out on Blu Ray so I can buy it again.

I am convinced that this film is magic. The film-makers did something during the production of this movie that will never be replicated. The problem is, I can never pin-point what that magical element is.

The theme of being truthful to yourself is probably the biggest reason why Aladdin still hits home with me. For far too long in my childhood and teenage years I was so busy trying to be what I thought my friends wanted me to be or what I thought would get me rich and famous. I didn’t realise that those versions of Choco almost often got into trouble, didn’t achieve much and, importantly, didn’t feel right. It took me a long time to take the message of this film to heart, but I got there in the end and I'm a much better person for it.

(Note to bullies: Hi Tec trainers are not a reason to beat up on a kid that barely speaks English.)


Putting the emotional gravitas of the film aside, Aladdin is a bloody imaginative and fun film to watch. Magic carpets, all-singing and dancing blue genies and pet tigers? To a little African boy trying to make sense of his new and strange world, that is a lot of things to take in. This film was the first ever to transport me to a world utterly different to my own, and believe me I was looking for escapism.

The thing is, now that I am a grown up and I have an English accent and love football, fish and chips and all that – I still find this film and all it has to offer extremely fun to watch. This film still wows me and still transports me to Agraba. This film has lost nothing of what made it special to me when I was younger – nothing.


And then there is Jafar. My favourite villain of all time. I judge every bad guy by the standards of this great and evil character. Not many make the threshold.

It seems like the older I get, the more terrifying I find Jafar, simply because I see him less as a characture and find real life examples of him – especially in the work place. Here is a man that is utterly focused on obtaining power, by any means necessary. He would fit right in working at a multinational company or a bank in today’s world.

For the younger me it was his numerous transformations within the film that scared me – be it the old man propositioning Aladdin in the prison, the obedient servant to the Sultan or the snake scene at the end. I found him terrifying. That damn snake scene gave me so many reoccurring nightmares throughout my life, it’s unbelievable.


This is one of those films that I can’t wait to watch with my daughter. I’m worried that I may ruin it for her, or I may be disappointed with her only being interested in the love story. But I am eager to share with her something that got me through my childhood. Something that made me happy and fall deeper in love with cinema.

To me, Aladdin, along with the first two Godfather films are perfect.


Oh... and Jasmin was my first cartoon crush.

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