This article is also available in: Italiano
Let’s start the week with a real Disney pearl, a film that entered the heart from an early age and which for many was the first approach to the Middle East. Based on a story in “The Thousand and One Nights”, Aladdin seems not to suffer the weight of the years, still remaining one of our favorite films.
Set against the backdrop of the mythical eastern kingdom of Agrabah, Aladdin tells the adventures of an enterprising young man, a rough diamond who dreams of escaping from a miserable street existence to marry the beautiful princess Jasmine, daughter of the Sultan. Destiny wants Aladdin to be commissioned by the Sultan’s Vizir, the treacherous Jafar, to recover a lamp with supernatural properties, hidden in the depths of the “Cave of Wonders”. Aladdin manages to find the lamp and, with it, the very lively genius who lives there, thus conquering the possibility of expressing three wishes, but unleashing the wrath of the powerful Jafar.
While pretending to be a rich and beautiful prince, Aladdin cannot impress the princess and discovers that the beautiful Jasmine has actually always been in love with the real Aladdin. With the help of his genius friend, the inseparable monkey Abù and a magic carpet, Aladdin, wanting to prove his worth, decides to save the kingdom from Jafar’s perfidious machinations, to finally become “master” of his own destiny.
First steps in the Middle East
This film has a special meaning for me, which I saw from this film my curiosity for this part of the world. Aladdin was a fairy tale like many others in Disney but, unlike the others, he told a different and fascinating land, made of magic and color. I remember the magic I felt when I was a child when I immersed myself in this magical and distant world, very different from what we were used to at home. My mother was a huge fan of the Anglo-Saxon and Latin world, which made my knowledge about the Middle East almost non-existent until I was 15, but that’s another matter.
In any case, Aladdin placed me in front of completely unexplored territories, with suggestive names and references from all over the world. The beauty of the places and Jasmine remained impressed on me forever and I am not ashamed to say that, without this film, the page you are reading would probably not exist.
Between legend and reality
The amazing thing about Aladdin’s places is that some of them are absolutely existing. In fact, for the supervision of the scenarios, the crew turned to Rasoul Azadani who was largely inspired by Isfahan, his hometown, a real pearl of Persia. Another very important contribution is due to the film “The thief of Baghdad”, the first great film set in the Middle East and a real milestone for many products, including Aladdin himself. Precisely on that film was in fact adapted “Aladdin and the wonderful lamp”, the story of “The Thousand and One Nights” from which the story is drawn, quite different in form but almost identical in meaning.
Even today Aladdin remains one of the best products in the entire history of animation, immediately joining the restricted circle of “Disney classics”. A masterpiece of animation that still reserves many ideas to explore and that never ceases to amaze even after 27 years.