Yesterday, my daughter, my mother-in-law, and I went to see the new live-action release of Disney’s Aladdin. As with all of Disney’s films, it was a spectacle for the eyes and a sweet concoction for the ears. I was surprised that only Jasmine and Aladdin seemed Middle-Eastern. Those were some lily-white inhabitants of Agrabah! Overall, though, the acting was superb,, the score was enchanting, and we really enjoyed the film, except for one thing that completely ruined the ending for me and left me feeling very much out of sorts…
Most of you probably know that the story of Aladdin comes from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (also known as The Arabian Nights). The story actually takes place in China, where Aladdin is a poor boy living on the streets in a nameless Chinese city. His mother is persuaded by a sorcerer to allow Aladdin to retrieve an oil lamp from a magical cave. The sorcerer double-crosses Aladdin, who becomes trapped in the cave. A magical ring allows Aladdin the means to escape the cave with possession of the lamp. The genie turns Aladdin into a wealthy prince, and he marries the sultan’s daughter. There is more than one genie involved but no magic carpet.
In Disney’s version, the genie, a being of of “phenomenal cosmic power,” is the star of the show (the Broadway version leaves no doubt about this and is a spectacular must-see). In the animated version, Aladdin and the genie trick the sorcerer into wishing he was a more powerful genie, and alas, the genie becomes the one trapped–not in a cave but inside a lamp. The live-action version plays out almost the same EXCEPT, the sorcerer does not wish to become a the most powerful genie in the universe. No, in this newest retelling, the sorcerer wishes to become the “most powerful being in the universe.” The genie takes that to mean a more powerful genie, thus relegating Jafar to life in a lamp. Alls well that ends well. But not with me.
As my daughter, Katie, pointed out when we were discussing this almost insignificant and nearly missable word change at dinner, who decided that a genie is more powerful than God? There can be no doubt that everyone involved in the production of that scene, from the writers to the actors to the producers, knew and understood the change. How could they not? It was a deliberate switch of words and a profound change in meaning.
Let me be honest here. I love the Disney films. Yes, even the ones where the princess needs rescuing and child-bride Snow White gets her fairy tale wedding. There is something wholesome and fun about them that always brings out the kid in me. I delight in the music, and I’ve spent more than my fair share of money at Disney theme parks. And yes, our family are big Harry Potter fans despite the “magic.”
I am a believer that there IS magic in the world. Perhaps not in the likes of the boy wizard, Harry, or the sorcerer Jafar, but a beautiful, Holy Spirit-infused kind of magic that can be both tangible and ethereal. Moses parted the Red Sea. Elijah was taken to Heaven in a chariot. Jesus sent possessed demons into swine and cured blindness. Even today, the power of prayer has befuddled the medical community in many ways. How can any of that happen without a certain kind of magic?
The point being that GOD is magic. God is the source of miracles. God is the epicenter of all that is good, all that is possible, all that is known, and all that is unknown. He alone is the most powerful Being in the world. For Disney to change that one little word, is to change the entire makeup of the universe. When I heard it, it was as if the theater went dark, and the action on the screen came to a screeching halt. For the rest of the movie, that line echoed in my mind. In a split second, Disney relegated God to less than nothing–a being less than nothing when compared to the magic and capabilities of a genie. But unlike the genie, God is real. He is alpha and the omega. He is the real friend we all need.
Yes, it was only a movie, but to me, it was just one more sign that Hollywood is trying to infiltrate the hearts and minds of those who follow the one, true, supreme being–to subtly distort our views and corrupt our beliefs. And they’re doing it one tiny word at a time.
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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Withdraw From Your Cares.
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is a finalist for the RWA Golden Quill Contest and the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018).