Aladdin

Why You Should Watch Aladdin

The children’s film, Aladdin, released at cinemas in South Africa aladdinrecently. It is based on the story Aladdin and the Magic Lamp and explores the themes of power and desire. The clever, satisfying ending makes the moral of the story clear for viewers: Your motives are powerful; be careful of them because, unchecked, they can lead to your destruction.

For parents keen to expose their children to films and stories that provoke interesting, worthwhile discussions I recommend Aladdin. But parental guidance is advised. This 2019 version is very similar to the 1992 animated one – funny, endearing and entertaining. However, this year’s film stars real people. Without the barrier of cartoon characters the romance between Aladdin and the princess Jasmine seems inappropriate for very small children. (Of course, this point is mild when you compare it to one of the older written versions of the story. In the latter, Aladdin spends the night with the princess after having lured an earlier suitor out of the way!)

aladdinBriefly, the story Aladdin opens with an unlikely hero: a poor, fatherless, young thief named Aladdin. The antagonist is a powerful man called Jafar, counsellor to the country’s Sultan. Jafar wants the Sultan’s powerful position for himself. Desire (for position and power). Aladdin – to put it crudely – wants the Sultan’s daughter (Jasmine) for himself. Desire (for riches and love). The source of empowerment in the story is a supposed magic lamp which contains a genie who is able to grant the lamp keeper’s wishes. Jafar and Aladdin vie for the lamp and this creates the conflict in the story.

Whilst the genie has the power to grant the wishes, the genie’s power is directed by the wishes and desires of the one who owns the lamp. He is enslaved to whoever commands him. As the story progresses it becomes clear that Genie’s enslavement is a picture of what our own desires do to us: they gradually enslave us.

As the struggle intensifies both Aladdin and Jafar become more desperate to have their thwarted desires met. And their desires escalate; instead of wanting only to be sultan Jafar eventually wants to become the most powerful genie in the land. (Think Saruman in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring). For his part Aladdin is tempted to go back on his word in order to get what he wants.

Conniving and betrayal make up both Jafar’s and Aladdin’s journeys until the final scenes of the film see Jafar’s wish to be the most powerful genie coming true. But the benefits of Jafar’s new position (in particular) don’t quite live up to his expectations!

The Christian Bible essentially teaches the same idea. Romans 6:16 says: Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness.

Watch Aladdin with your children and discuss how the different characters (including Abu, Aladdin’s monkey!):

  • are tempted,
  • what desires within the characters are stirred by those temptations,
  • and the consequences of giving in to those temptations.

Talk about Aladdin:

  • do you think he was a ‘better person’ than Jafar was?
  • were Aladdin’s desires ‘more worthy’ than Jafar’s?
  • could Aladdin have had the same end as Jafar did? How? Why?

The Hobbit bids its farewell with Billy Boyd

Information supplied by Ster Kinekor

Hobbit fans in South Africa have The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies release to look forward to on 12 December this year. This is the third film in the trilogy based on the book The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, by filmmakers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Appropriately, the film’s end song is titled “The Last Goodbye”; it is to be performed by Billy Boyd.

In making the announcement, the filmmakers stated: “It is hard, after 16 years and six films, to know exactly how to say goodbye. We knew that we wanted to speak directly to all those who have taken this journey with us, especially to the fans whose love of these films has so often kept us going. This is why we asked Billy Boyd, who has been with us from the very beginning, and whose portrayal as Peregrin Took in ‘The Lord of The Rings’ films is so beloved, to help write and perform the final song in this trilogy. Billy is not just a wonderful actor but also an extremely accomplished singer/songwriter – we are so glad he agreed once again to share his talent with us.

“There is always something simple and truthful and heartfelt running through even the grandest of the tales of Professor Tolkien. As Thorin tells Bilbo at the end of The Hobbit, if the world valued song and cheer above gold it would be a merrier place. As much as ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ is an epic story about war and sacrifice and loss, it is also a personal tale about the importance of friendship and family and home.

Billy Boyd, who also plays Pippin in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings sings The Last Goodbye in the final part of the Hobbit trilogy to be released in December. Photo: Creative Commons

Billy Boyd, who also plays Pippin in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings sings The Last Goodbye in the final part of the Hobbit trilogy to be released in December. Photo: Creative Commons

“‘The Last Goodbye,’ performed by Billy Boyd, is both a farewell to Middle-earth and it is also our leave-taking of the audience. We cannot imagine a more perfect voice to carry us away from the shores of Middle-earth…one last time.”