Live-Action Aladdin Movie: 20 Differences Between Remake And The Animated Classic
Aladdin spoilers ahead--for both versions!
The live-action Aladdin is the latest in a long line of Disney's live adaptations of their animated classics. The company kicked the most recent incarnation of this trend off with Maleficent, a spin-off of Sleeping Beauty, and followed it with a remake of Cinderella. Then came The Jungle Book, which was probably the most successful remake to date; the original plot for the animated film was a little threadbare, and this was a case of the live-action version actually improving upon the original.
It was inevitable that Disney would eventually remake the animated classics of the Disney Renaissance, a period that stretched from the late '80s to the late '90s and encompassed a golden run of animated classics, from The Little Mermaid to Tarzan.
The bar of expectation for these films is considerably higher. The animated Beauty and the Beast, for example, is a perfect film. And so Emma Watson's live-action rendition was graded on both on its overall quality and its necessity: Did the new film add anything new, or did it just repeat the same narrative beats, frame-for-frame?
The new, live-action adaptation of Disney's Aladdin took some interesting risks, which gave us more context about the lead characters and changed the plot in subtle ways. Here are 20 changes between animated Aladdin and live-action Aladdin that we've noticed.
1. "Arabian Nights" Lyric Change
The song "Arabian Nights" has undergone several changes since its inception to appeal to changing social norms. In the original film, the narrator describes Agrabah thusly: "Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face / It's barbaric, but hey, it's home!" This was amended in the 1993 home release to say, "Where it's flat and immense and the heat is intense / It's barbaric, but hey, it's home!"
The new version of the song that Will Smith sings takes all references to barbarism out, and celebrates Agrabah's cultural diversity: "Where you wander among every culture and tongue/It's chaotic, but hey, it's home!"
2. No Magical Scarab
One of the most evocative moments in the animated film is when Jafar puts the two halves of the golden scarab beetle together; it then flies off into the desert and summons the Cave of Wonders from the sands, taking the form of a massive, enchanted tiger head.
In the new film, there is no golden scarab, so we lose the entire iconic horseback chase. The tiger head is a rock formation, not a sand formation. And it seems that any of the citizens of Agrabah can walk up to it and try to enter, so long as they know the location; there's no magical item necessary to make an attempt.
3. Penalty for Stealing
In the animated film, the marketplace shopkeeper threatens to cut off Jasmine's hand for stealing food; he grabs her arm and raises his blade high before Aladdin stops him. In the new movie, the conflict never reaches the point of violence. The shopkeeper looks very angry, but he's immediately appeased when Aladdin offers him Jasmine's bracelet.
The new movie also removes the entire sequence where Aladdin pretends that Jasmine is mentally handicapped to get her out of trouble.
4. "Jasmine In the Marketplace" / Potential Suitor Scene Switch
In the animated film, Aladdin sings "One Jump Ahead" when he's running from the guards after stealing a loaf of bread. In the new movie, the song is used to score Aladdin and Jasmine's escape from the marketplace after angering the shopkeeper.
This is because Jasmine appears much earlier in the new movie than in the animated film. In the latter, we see Jasmine sneak out of the palace before Aladdin spots her in the marketplace, so we already know she's the princess, even though Aladdin doesn't.
In the live-action film, the very first time we meet her is in the marketplace. We're as much in the dark as Aladdin, so it's a twist when we find out she's the princess.
The live-action filmmakers reveal this twist during a royal court scene, when Jasmine meets another potential suitor: Prince Anders from Skaland. He's a little dim, but he certainly seems nicer than the animated film's corresponding Prince Achmed.
5. Jasmine's Mother
The new film gives a little context for why Jasmine is so sheltered and has never ventured beyond the palace walls; after her mother died, her father became extremely protective of her and forbade her from traveling to ensure her safety.
6. Dalia The Handmaiden
The new movie gives Jasmine a sidekick: a handmaiden named Dalia, who falls in love with the Genie when she sees him in his human disguise. Dalia allows Jasmine some additional dialogue and characterization, instead of having her engage in one-sided conversations with Rajah.
7. Sneaking Into The Palace
The animated film, unlike the live-action film, has no sequence where Aladdin breaks into the Sultan's palace to court Jasmine, and is later captured by the palace guards. In the animated version, Aladdin is captured by the guards outside the palace, and he is subsequently thrown in prison. The first time animated Aladdin enters the palace is when he's pretending to be Prince Ali.
8. A Smarter Sultan
The Sultan character has been almost completely redone. In the live-action film, he is a wiser, more stately ruler than the childlike Sultan of the animated film, who seems more concerned with his toys than with ruling his kingdom. In fact, it's the live-action Sultan's admonitions to Jafar about "knowing his place" that cause Jafar to become bitter and angry.
9. The Cave of Wonders
When live-action Aladdin enters and explores the Cave of Wonders, we don't see the golden glow of endless treasure that was in the animated version. Instead, we see a small pile of jewels here, some coins and gold decorative pieces there. The live-action Genie's lamp itself is atop a massive pillar that Aladdin has to scale; in the animated film, Aladdin takes a long staircase to reach it.
10. Jafar Levels With Aladdin
In the live-action film, Jafar tells Aladdin exactly who he is from the start, and he plays upon Aladdin's social status to convince him to enter the Cave of Wonders. In the animated film, Jafar disguises himself as an older prisoner, who needs a younger man to brave the Cave of Wonders on his behalf.
11. Wishing Rule #1
In the animated film, Genie has three restrictions on the wishes he can grant: 1. He can't kill anyone; 2. He can't make someone fall in love; and 3. He can't raise the dead. In the live-action film, the last two rules are the same, but the first rule now prohibits Aladdin from wishing for more wishes. This sentiment is also included in the animated film ("Ix-nay on the wishing for more wishes!"), but it's mentioned as an aside rather than as an official rule.
Animated Aladdin finds a loophole to Genie's rules by daring him to break them out of the cave; Genie complies, even though Aladdin does not explicitly wish for it. Live-action Aladdin does wish himself out of the cave, but he isn't holding the lamp while doing it, which also means it doesn't technically count.
12. "Speechless" Song
This brand new, live-action exclusive song is an empowerment anthem sung by Jasmine, who is rebelling against the princess norms that have been placed upon her. There's a full version of the song in the middle of the film, and there's a reprisal near the end, when she stands up to Jafar and urges Hakim the Palace Guard to do the same.
13. Awkward Courtship Scenes
The movie adds two awkward courtship scenes, meant to highlight how inept Aladdin is at appearing to be a prince. The first is in the royal court, where Aladdin rambles on about dates and accidentally says that he wants to buy the princess. The second is later that evening at a palace party, when Aladdin dances with Jasmine for the first time.
In the original animated film, Aladdin fits into his new prince role very smoothly. No one, except for Jafar, is initially suspicious of his title or identity.
14. A Local Magic Carpet Ride
In the animated version, the "A Whole New World" sequence takes Aladdin and Jasmine on a global tour. They visit, via magic carpet ride, the Sphinx and pyramids in Egypt, the Parthenon in Greece, and the Forbidden City in China. In the live-action version, they only fly around the city of Agrabah.
15. The Former Thief
Unlike the animated Jafar, the live-action Jafar reveals himself to be a former thief from the streets, just like Aladdin; he attributes his rise to vizier as proof of his ambition. This plot point becomes relevant late in the film; live-action Jafar pickpockets the Genie's lamp when he deliberately bumps into Aladdin in the marketplace. In the animated version, Iago steals the lamp from Aladdin's room in the palace.
16. Hakim The Head Guard
The role of Hakim, the head palace guard, is completely unique to the live-action film. The movie even gives him a little backstory; Jasmine remembers that when he was a young boy, his father was a gardener for the Sultan. Hakim is widely known in the royal court as an honorable man, and in a crucial moment at the film's climax, he decides to do what's morally right rather than blindly following the law.
17. Massive Monster Parrot
In the animated film, Jafar takes the form of a massive cobra after becoming the most powerful sorcerer in the world. In the live-action film, there is no serpent. Instead, Jafar uses his magic to turn Iago into a massive bird, who attacks Aladdin and Abu while they're trying to steal the Genie's lamp back.
18. In On The Plan
In the animated film, the Genie is clueless about Aladdin's final plan to defeat Jafar. Aladdin goads Jafar into wishing himself to be an all-powerful genie. Jafar is then sucked into his new lamp--a prison of his own making. The Genie is pleasantly surprised and complimentary of Aladdin's smart thinking.
In the live-action film, the Genie catches on to what Aladdin is doing halfway through. And when Jafar wishes himself to be the most powerful being alive, it's the Genie who uses the non-specificity of the wish to deliberately misinterpret Jafar and turn him into a genie.
19. Jasmine The Sultan
The animated movie ends with the Sultan changing the marriage law by simply stating aloud that he's changing it; this allows Jasmine to marry Aladdin, and they all live happily ever after.
The live-action movie ends on a note of empowerment; the Sultan designates Jasmine as the next Sultan and says that as the Sultan apparent, she can change the law herself to whatever she sees fit. The film takes explicit steps to show that Jasmine is ready to rule Agrabah; we see her studying maps and global history whenever she's not directly participating in the plot.
20. Storytelling Sailor
The live-action twist is that the sailor who's telling Aladdin's tale to his children is actually the freed Genie; freedom made him human. He married Dalia the handmaiden, and he's currently exploring the world on a lamp-shaped boat.
This echoes back to the scrapped ending of the animated film. Originally, viewers would find out that the merchant telling the story is actually the freed Genie in disguise. Instead, the animators decided to end it more ambiguously.
The animated Genie retains his magical powers; he is now free to use them how he pleases instead of taking orders from a master. And the connection between the merchant and the Genie is never explicitly stated, although the implication is there; Robin Williams voiced both characters.