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There's a common question that you hear whenever Disney announces another remake from its animated catalog. Why? Walt Disney Animation Studios have made some of the most iconic movies in the history of Hollywood. They're the stuff of theme park attractions and cherished memories and we always here from fans of the original that these movies don't need to be remade. However, one of the producers behind the recent remake on Aladdin says that it was a movie that could truly use a remake, because there were some aspects, largely concerning the depiction of Princess Jasmine, that could really use some improvement.
I recently spoke to Aladdin producer Dan Lin, and he told me that one of the reasons he wanted to work on the remake of Aladdin was that, while he was a big fan of the original movie growing up, he recognized that Jasmine's character wasn't what you would want from a modern heroine, and so, as Lin told me...
I think certainly with where the Women’s Movement has gone, that we felt like, with the Jasmine character from the original movie, she felt like a classic Disney Princess from back in the day and really just ultimately focused on romance. And we felt like, there’s a chance for us to create a new kind of role model for young girls with our version of Jasmine that would be much more of a leader. Someone who wanted to stand up for herself and her ideals and wanted to have a voice. That was a big part of our pitch with Aladdin was that we were going to improve upon her character.
Jasmine is as beloved as any member of Disney's exclusive club known as Princesses, but it has to be said that, while the character combats her father over the way she's being forced to marry, even in the original film, she's little more than a love interest for Aladdin there. She doesn't really do anything. She doesn't even have her own song.
It's a problem that a lot of the classic era Disney princesses have. They're largely not what you would call "proactive" women. Characters like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty largely have the plot happen to them, without taking an active role in the events themselves. Jasmine is a bit better than this, she does leave the palace of her own accord, but otherwise she comes quite close to this classic Princess model.
It was this than Dan Lin and others wanted to fix, and in fact, it was a central concept in the entire idea behind remaking Aladdin in the first place.
Jasmine wasn't the only problematic part of the original Aladdin. Dan Lin did not mince words with me, that some of the racial portrayals of the original Aladdin were also desperately in need of a refresh.
And certainly, there are some things, if you look at the original movie, felt a little, frankly, a little racist, that we wanted to update for this generation and show that we could create a movie that was both diverse and inclusive and be wildly commercial.
If anything, "wildly" is an understatement. While the early buzz surrounding the Aladdin remake was a little questionable, following some negative feedback on Will Smith's Genie, the movie went on to gross more than $1 billion at the box office. It would seem that the changes that were made hit home with the audience, causing them to make the movie a massive hit. Lin has confirmed that Disney is considering a sequel already.
The new Aladdin will be available in Digital HD on August 27 and will follow on Blu-ray September 10