Making movies.  Enjoying movies.  Remembering movies.






Related Articles:

"Aladdin" Animator Eric Goldberg

The "Aladdin" DVD Premiere in Hollywood!

"Mary Poppins" Re-Premiere Photo Gallery

"Mary Poppins" DVD

"Cinderella" DVD



Posted October 4, 2004


Aladdin’s Magical Return on DVD


William Kallay

How in the world would Walt Disney’s Animation division top “Beauty and the Beast?”  And how would it top “The Little Mermaid?”  Those were questions to be answered with the resounding success of 1992’s “Aladdin.”  After a hiatus from the home video market, the film is back in a 2-disc DVD set.

Disney had been on a financial and critical acclaim roll after the release of “The Little Mermaid” (1989) and “Beauty and the Beast” (1991).  Both films rejuvenated Disney’s classic storytelling-style shown in such classics as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937), “Pinocchio” (1940), and “Cinderella” (1950).   Better yet, music written and composed by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken for “Mermaid” and “Beast” put the musical film genre back on the map with such songs as “Part Of Your World,” “Under The Sea” and “Beauty and the Beast.”  Disney was flush with new and instantly familiar characters and songs for its theme parks and merchandising division.

“Aladdin” came on the heels of “Beast.”  Using comedy as its foundation, the film featured virtuoso animation, clever direction from John Musker and Ron Clements (who directed “The Little Mermaid”), and songs by the late-Howard Ashman, Alan Menken and Tim Rice.  Topping “Beast” would be no small feat, as that film earned both critical and box office acclaim in 1991.  The film was so beloved that it was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, a first for an animated feature.  But “Aladdin” came out a winner, surpassing the box office draw of “Beauty and the Beast.”

The film had audiences “rolling in the aisles” with Robin Williams’ portrayal of the Genie (supervised by animator,
Eric Goldberg).  The character of Aladdin (voiced by Scott Weinger) was surrounded by a number of funny characters including the monkey, Abu, the conniving parrot, Iago (voiced by Gilbert Godfried), and the Magic Carpet.  Rounding out the cast are Aladdin’s love interest, Jasmine (voiced by Linda Larkin) and the dynamically evil Jafar (voiced by Jonathan Freeman).

The DVD lives up to Disney’s high standards for giving consumers more for their money.  Disc 1 contains the feature film in a brand-new transfer.  This “THX-Certified” edition is a great reference-quality DVD, where the picture is razor sharp and the colors are crisp & dynamic.  Though the film was available on a highly praised LaserDisc before going into the Disney vaults, the picture on this DVD shows how far home video standards have come.  You can now throw out those well-worn VHS copies and replace them with this new DVD set.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.  Included as an audio option is the “Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix,” which was remixed by sound re-recording mixer, Terry Porter.  This enhanced 5.1 mix puts the viewer more into the aural environment of the film.   As a purist on how film should be presented, I favor the standard 5.1 mix because it mirrors the original theatrical release.  Some may prefer the “Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix” for more “you are there” quality.  Porter’s mixing is topnotch and most viewers should be pleased with either version.  The bottom line is that the sound is robust and well presented on

Disc 1 has a number of features that will keep animation buffs busy.  The bonus material includes deleted songs, deleted scenes and three music videos.  The first is a music video performance of a deleted song from the soundtrack, “Proud Of Your Boy,” sung by Clay Aiken of “American Idol” fame.  Included is an original story reel tied to the song and a behind-the-scenes short.  The second video is a re-recording of “A Whole New World” by current pop star Jessica Simpson and her husband Nick Lachey.  This is followed by a behind-the-scenes section on the making of the video.  Lastly, there’s the original music video of “A Whole New World” by Regina Belle & Peabo Bryson.  The disc is rounded out by audio commentary by the filmmakers, and another one by some of the animators.  There is also a “Pop Up Fun Facts” option on the disc, audio options and the “
THX Optimizer.”  And, of course, there are the obligatory and unwelcome Disney Sneak Peeks at the head of the disc.  Disney’s done such a fine job on their Walt Disney Treasures DVDs without adding Sneak Peeks, it would be nice if they continued this practice on all of their future discs.

The bonus material continues on Disc 2.  This is a very “deep” disc and should keep viewers busy for hours.  The bonus material consists of a question and answer session with some of the talent involved with making the film called “A Diamond In The Rough: The Making Of ‘Aladdin.’”  Moderated by critic and historian, Leonard Maltin, the session was conducted at Disney’s California Adventure theme park at the Hyperion Theatre.  Taped in front of an audience of students from Cal Arts (an art school in
Valencia, CA), the session is broken down on the disc in chapter sections.  This is valuable material for students of animation and Disney buffs.  It’s a great opportunity to meet some of the animators and behind-the-scenes voice talent.  There are also some “Green Room” segments on the DVD, where Gilbert Godfried walks around backstage to interview talent.

Going further into the disc menus will bring up “Disney’s Virtual
DVD Ride: Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Adventure.”  This offers viewers a chance to take a magic carpet ride through various scenes from the film.  This computer animated ride is perhaps lifted from an early attempt by Disney Imagineering to create a computer-based ride for its theme parks in the early 1990s.  It’s also similar to “Timon & Pumba’s Virtual Safari” on “The Lion King” DVD.  If that’s not enough for you to keep your DVD remote clicking around the disc, there are two newly animated sections done by Eric and Suzie Goldberg called “Inside The Genie’s Lamp” and “The Genie World Tour,” and a “3 Wishes Game.”

Watching this film will give animation buffs the opportunity to study and admire the fine animation work.  The film mixed a variety of animation and art styles to come up with a unique look.  Though some influence from Richard Williams’ “The Thief and the Cobbler” (made from 1968 to the early 1990s) is apparently present, the crew of “Aladdin” borrowed motifs from Tex Avery cartoons, Al Hirschfeld drawings, and Arabian design.  What has always struck me about the design of this film are the ruby red and aqua blue jewels on Jafar’s headpiece and Jasmine’s tiara.  The colors are rich and almost three-dimensional.  Cool eye candy.

But what is pleasing about this film, despite its departure in some people’s eyes from Disney-style, is that it’s still Disney.  The film has the traditional touches many people associate with classic Disney animation.  The first element is story.  The story of a young boy who wants to become somebody

someday.  The sidekick characters are another element of Disney animation, and there are many in this film and most of them are strong characterizations.  Iago is hilarious as Jafar’s henchman.  Abu provides playful and often very funny moments to Aladdin’s resourceful nature.  The two make a fun pair to watch on-screen as they thwart the bad guys.  But perhaps the most pleasing sidekick character is the Magic Carpet.  Supervising Animator Randy Cartwright, who is presented on the bonus material disc, designed one of the more clever characters in the film.  Who would’ve thought that such animated personality and charm could come from a rug?

Where the film comes short, and it’s minor, is on the execution of Aladdin and Jasmine, the film’s focal characters.  There’s not much wrong with them, per se, but their personalities are often overshadowed by much stronger and interesting characters surrounding them.  After all, how would Aladdin have a more powerful personality than the Genie?  That’s a major undertaking for any story department, especially with Robin Williams providing the voice!  Jasmine is beautifully drawn by animator Mark Henn.  Her character, though, isn’t as warm or pleasing as Ariel or Belle who came before her.  She’s strong, yes, but overall there’s not much to her princess character.  Whereas Ariel desired to become human, and Belle desired to escape her ordinary life, Jasmine is more or less a plot device for Aladdin to have a love interest.

The strengths of this film are many and overshadow any minor gripes one might have.  Musker and Clements’ direction is solid. The animation and voice casting is nearly perfect.  It’s fun entertainment.  The film is also an interesting time capsule on Robin Williams.  At the time the film was released in theatres, Williams was at the top of the box office.  He could virtually do no wrong, and audiences immediately embraced his portrayal as the Genie.  Goldberg’s supervision of the Genie certainly stands out.

The “Aladdin”
DVD is a fantastic package and should find its way onto your home theatre shelf.  It’s a great look back at a film made during Disney Animation’s most recent “golden age.”



Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Catalog Number 31552

Region 1

16:9 Widescreen (1.66:1)

Dolby Digital 5.1

Dolby Digital 5.1 (Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix)


DVD Release Date: October 5, 2004



Two DVD-9 Discs


90 minutes


Directors: Ron Clements and John Musker

Voice Talent: Robin Williams, Scott Weinger, Linda Larken, Gilbert Godfried



 Artwork © The Walt Disney Company.  All rights reserved




Copyright 2004 FSTD


[Contact Us]     [About This Site]     [Site Index]     [Terms & Conditions]     [Friends Of FSTD]