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Arabic Culture in Disney's Aladdin - Movie Review Example

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Nobody wants to be the victim of truth. Much less falsehood. But in the modern ways of men, even as "globalisation" has become a byword and household term, some few, some millions, and some people of race, colour or origin still fall prey to the ones who force on their power to their fellow humans…
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Arabic Culture in Disneys Aladdin
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Download file to see previous pages The original story of Aladdin found in "The Book of One Thousand and One Nights" is translated by French Antoine Galland who claimed to have heard it from a Syrian Christian storyteller from Aleppo by the name Youhenna Diab although another name is mentioned as Abu abd-Allah Muhammed el-Gahshigar. The original full text was allegedly very anti-semitic where nave Aladdin was exploited and tricked by a Jewish merchant. An upright Muslim competitor saved Aladdin from the treacherous Jew. Aladdin was able to marry Asian princess Badroulbadour from China with the help of the "djinn", but later on, the sorcerer tricks Aladdin's wife and got the lamp and the djinn. In the end, Aladdin was able to recover his wife and the lamp (Wikipedia, 2006).
The Walt Disney animated version of Aladdin is openly revised commercially and for western viewing purposes. It took place in a mystical medieval city called Agrabah based in Baghdad as home of the 1001 Arabian Nights. It opened with the daily lifestyle of poor boy Aladdin who snatches from merchants for a living. He has a pet monkey called Abu who connives with him along the way. The other main characters are Princess Jasmine, whom Aladdin saw one time in the marketplace, her father the Sultan, and the sultan's vizier Jafar, the sorcerer who wants to become the sultan himself.
Through the manoeuvring of Jaf...
Of which he was imprisoned back inside the magic lamp (Walt Disney, 1992).

Discussion:
While regular movie viewers, especially for Disney animation fans, may find the movie "Aladdin" a classic Disney "family" movie and a comedy hit as entertaining, and with "general patronage" rating (Movieweb, 2006), those who may be conscious of its "Oriental" roots may find it discriminatory, if not downright insulting to common sense.
Since it is blatantly portrayed as an Arab-set movie, some of the characters, basically the palace guards or soldiers, were portrayed as dimwits. Also, the Sultan was also portrayed as someone easily swayed by a vizier's opinion and one who played loosely with his daughter's feelings and emotions. This is not always the case in Asian countries.

While it may not be altogether denied that there are some Eastern traditions where fixed marriages still are part of the present situation, it cannot be generalised that even a Princess is compromised to marry anybody whom her parents choose.

Edward Said (1979) cannot be more exact in his claim about the "westerner" claiming knowledge of the "Oriental" in the Disney movie "Aladdin." Everything "oriental" was used as a mere backdrop of the story which has become as western as it could get --- except for a few almost unrecognizable themes: it has become centred on the individuals in Jafar, Aladdin, Abu, and Jasmine. Aladdin who seem to exist for himself and Abu by amorally taking things from merchants in order to live and eat, Abu by taking in what he wish, Jafar for taking everything beyond his wants, needs and capacity, and Jasmine for what she hopes, wishes, or believes in.

The oriental marketplace, the Arab costumes, merchants, soldiers, palace, have become a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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