Despite initial negative reaction by fans —including me, admittedly—after the teasers and the trailer, the movie lived up to the hype—fortunately. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has sentimental connection with the original movie.
Just saw #Aladdin in Imax. I'm not crying, the theater was full of pollen. And cat hair.
— hotsaucehayward (@hotsaucehayward) May 28, 2019
About 27 years ago, my parents first date included my dad taking my mom to see Aladdin!
Yesterday my parents took their kids (me & @npadilla91) to see the new Aladdin & at the end credits, my mom BALLED her eyes out 🥰💛 my fave princess, fave movie, fave remake, fave people pic.twitter.com/7C7DJQxkMq
— 🌻 (@Mary____anna) May 27, 2019
Just finished watching #Aladdin and wow, I was BLOWN AWAY. It was surprisingly amazing! Perfect combination of old and new. The casting was great and the trailers don’t do it any justice. The new additions and small changes work perfectly too!
THIS is how remakes should be done. pic.twitter.com/l3hnE4EXcP
— Matthew Rodriguez (@MattDotDisney) May 27, 2019
While for the most part, the live-action film tried to stay true to the original movie released in 1992, there were glaring differences. Will Smith’s genie has been generally met with positive review. Meanwhile, Jafar referring to Iago only as “parrot” (what’s up with that?) was something others couldn’t forgive. Personally, I forgive director Guy Ritchie. Not just because I’ve always been a big fan, but because I think he did such a great job with this new Princess Jasmine.
We all know not all Disney movies have aged well. In fact, it became so problematic, Film School Rejects wrote, “Disney knew it had to do something, especially as criticism of the Disney princess line mounted in the 2010s: critics wrote essays and books, researchers conducted studies about the effects of the line on young girls, and actresses declared they don’t let their daughters watch certain princess movies.”
It’s easy to see that that’s one of the goals of the live remakes: Give their princess a very timely, modern update. Just one example is Sleeping Beauty. Most would agree, she’s the most problematic of the bunch. There’s basically no story arc for her as she was literally asleep most of the film, while waiting for a man to save her. Now, with Maleficent, she becomes a more fleshed out character and “true love’s kiss” was given a whole new meaning.
While it’s true Disney had made changes in the portrayal of their princesses as more active characters—as in Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine— it still begs to be scrutinized. One of the major criticisms was that, although they are more assertive as characters, in the end, their arcs still revolved around finding a “happy ending”—aka, marrying a guy. In comparison, the new generation of Disney Princesses like Moana or Elsa show them as truly empowered characters on their own—their goals being how to better lead their people, instead of finding true love.
This is something the new Aladdin has also adapted. Unlike its original counterpart, Jasmine’s concern had always been about her country. In contrast to her animated version, this new Jasmine snuck out of the palace to get to know her subjects better—not escape an arranged marriage. Film School Rejects added, “This Jasmine doesn’t reject an arranged marriage because she wants to fall in love; she rejects an arranged marriage because then a foreign husband will assume the position of sultan, when really she is the best person for the role.”
— Naomi Scott Gallery (@naomiscottgal) May 28, 2019
“It felt right that we should challenge Jasmine in this incarnation,” director Guy Ritchie told Polygon during the press tour for the film. “She needed the equivalent of a challenge that, say, Aladdin has, but in her own way.”
The site further noted, Princess Jasmine “stays true to the character and what made her appealing, but also gives her more agency and a story that is not entirely reliant on Aladdin.” Best believe, while the title says Aladdin, Jasmine was clearly very much the star of the show, as much as her leading man. The fact that she gets her own solo number is proof of that.
The only additional song in the remake, “Speechless,” was sung by Jasmine as “she gives a rousing speech to rally the people around her to defy Jafar.” It was inarguably one of the key scenes in the film; her “Let It Go moment” if you will. Naomi Scott, who played Princess Jasmine, told Digital Spy, “ I think the message is so powerful, the idea that she’s not going to go speechless and you do have a voice and you should speak up against injustice.” Adding, “Everyone can relate to the idea of being shut down.”
I think her new “happily ever after” was even better in this remake. Instead of her father realizing she should be free to marry whoever she wants, he more importantly realizes his daughter is a worthy leader. And it was she who made the move to go after the man she loves.
In our current social climate where becoming more conscious on the portrayal of women in media, this is certainly a big win, as it helps princesses be recognized as true leaders–not just pretty faces.
Now I’m looking forward to Mulan and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Praying they’d do a good job there too.
Photo courtesy of Naomi Scott’s Instagram account
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