Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

US Animated Movie (1992). Disney. Pr Ron Clements, John Musker. Dir Clements, Musker. Spfx Don Paul. Screenplay Clements, Ted Elliott, Musker, Terry Rossio. Based on the traditional tale (see Arabian Fantasy). Voice actors Aaron Blaise (Rajah), Jonathan Freeman (Jafar), Gilbert Gottfried (Iago), Brad Kane (Aladdin singing), Linda Larkin (Jasmine speaking), Lea Salonga (Jasmine singing), Douglas Seale (Sultan), Scott Weinger (Aladdin speaking), Frank Welker (Abu), Robin Williams (Genie). 90 mins. Colour.

Wicked vizier Jafar hopes to depose the Sultan of Agrabah; to do so he requires the aid of the Genie from a magic lamp in the Cave of Wonders, a vast Underground treasure trove in the desert into which only the pure of heart can enter. He sends orphan Aladdin, imprisoned for having rescued Princess Jasmine from embarrassment in the souk, into the cave; there Aladdin and Monkey sidekick Abu ally with the Genie and a magic carpet; thereafter the tale concerns Jafar's thwarted attempts to expunge Aladdin, enslave the Genie, marry Jasmine and oust the Sultan. In an effective denouement, the Trickster Aladdin persuades Jafar to order the Genie to make him, Jafar, likewise a genie, with all a genie's magical powers. But genie-hood brings also bonds (see Bondage), and thus Jafar is pent inside the lamp.

A is set in "Hollywood Arabia", a Land of Fable that bears little resemblance to the original. Jafar's face was modelled partly on that of Nancy Reagan, but the exceptional characterization is that of the Genie, with Robin Williams's manic vocal portrayal being superbly matched visually by the animation. Elsewhere, considerable debts are owed in terms of plot and characterization to both The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and The Thief of Bagdad (1940). Most notable, though, is A's overpowering visual effect: not since the early days have the Disney animators allowed themselves so lavishly imaginative and so surreal a visual interpretation of a plot, with the foreground ever and again erupting into a kaleidoscope of brilliant colour while the background fades to matte.

The sequel was The Return of Jafar (1994). The Disney animated tv series spun off from this movie started to air in 1996. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.