With Robin Williams at the mike, Aladdin‘s Genie can’t resist doing take-offs of other entertainers — and neither, in their own way, can anybody in Disney’s animation unit. Continuing in the vein of Beauty and the Beast, the artists, screenwriters, and directors of Aladdin wove much of their modern narrative from the shredded cloth of other well-known tales. Along with broad story elements from classics like Romeo and Juliet (the balcony scene) and The Prince and the Pauper (Princess Jasmine masquerades as a commoner), Aladdin lifts specific lines, situations, and shots from a wide range of films, including:
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
Aladdin‘s ”Cave of Wonders” sequence virtually photocopies Steven Spielberg’s opening scene, right down to the cave erupting when a valuable is removed and the tense, no-you-go-first exchange between the hero and his guide. And the voice of Abu was provided by Frank Welker, who also spoke for the monkey in Raiders.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK AND RETURN OF THE JEDI
Just like Han Solo and Princess Leia in Empire, Aladdin narrowly escapes from a living cave with a huge mouth. And the getup that evil Jafar creates for a chained-up Princess Jasmine looks remarkably like the outfit evil Jabba the Hut concocts for a chained-up Leia in Jedi.
Both movies celebrate the erotic frisson of flying in a scene that begins on a balcony, then follows two lovers on a whirl through the skies. Supe and Lois circle the Statue of Liberty; Al and Jasmine jet past the Sphinx.
THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD
Aladdin snatches Thief‘s rainbow-colored royal parade for its big ”Prince Ali” number. And just as in Disney’s new film, a scowling vizier named Jaffar (it’s Jafar in Aladdin) plots to marry the senile sultan’s daughter until he is foiled by a prince with a sidekick (only in Thief, Abu is not a monkey but a boy, played by actor Sabu).