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?

Unbelievable Winter’s Tale is forgettable

A review by Brenda Daniels

Winter’s Tale is a fantasy romance set in a wintry New York. The action spans over a century with several characters appearing throughout the time without ageing. The tale is a circular battle between good and evil complete with a magic horse, a Judge with Satanic qualities (Will Smith) and a host of demons, the most determined one, Pearly Soames, played by Russell Crowe.

The centrepiece of the film is the love story of a seemingly common thief, Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), and Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), a rich but dying young woman.

A secondary love story is between the same Peter Lake many decades later and a little girl called Abby, who is dying of cancer. As Pearly tries to destroy any beauty in these relationships, Peter works to fulfil his destiny by helping Beverly and Abby avoid their mortality.

Farrell, who has starred in action films like In Bruges and London Boulevard, does well in this romantic role; the love scene between Peter and Beverly is particularly tender. He also seems to have a rapport with children, and his interactions, firstly with Beverly’s young sister Young Willa (Mckayla Twiggs), and then with Abby (Ripley Sobo), are lovely to watch.

Long after a gripping tale has finished, I may grapple with the story, delving into the characters’ traits, sometimes imagining myself living out their lives. I didn’t with Winter’s Tale. I couldn’t identify enough with the characters to care about them.

The fantasy elements, too, are just too unbelievable to be enjoyable. Despite some good relationship scenes, Winter’s Tale is a forgettable film that will not appeal enough to adults or children to be enjoyable for either audience.

Winter’s Tale opens at NuMetro Theatres in South Africa on Friday 28 February. It runs for 118 minutes and is rated 10DSV.

Colin Farrell, leadin man in Winter's Tale (Source: creative commons)

Colin Farrell, leadin man in Winter’s Tale (Source: creative commons)