Thursday, April 3, 2014

Remembering Aladdin

In my opinion Aladdin was one of the best features my generation of animators came up with. The photo brings back a lot of fun memories. From left to right:
Dave Pruiksma (Sultan), Glen Keane (Aladdin), Duncan Marjoribanks (Abu), Eric Goldberg (Genie), Will Finn (Iago), Randy Cartwright (Carpet) and myself.
Mark Henn (Jasmine) and Aaron Blaise (Rajah) were working at the Orlando studio at the time.

Just a few memories that come to mind:

Eric was the first animator on the movie, his incredible test animation of the Genie set the film’s animation style and standard. Quite intimidating!

The movie’s backgrounds impressed me so much, I sent a note -signed by all of the supervising animators- to the background artists. It said that we think their work is on the level of  “Peter Pan”.

All animators were walking around with a smile on their faces, we loved our assignments.

Jonathan Freeman’s nuanced voice recordings were a tremendous inspiration for Jafar.

We all loved the integration of CG (Tiger Head) with our drawn characters.

We also thought the songs and score were amazing.

Frank and Ollie thought the films’s pacing was too hectic. Marc Davis questioned the contemporary references. Don’t know what Kimball thought of Aladdin.

After Aladdin the animation crew split into two units. One did Lion King, the other did Pocahontas.

It felt like our animation unit could move mountains.


  1. If there is a chance that Disney would plan to officially release Aladdin in the Diamond Edition Blu-ray and DVD on your country. What would it be next year or the year that follows.

  2. I agree Allading is one of the best films made by 2nd generation. I can enjoy watching this masterpiece on and on and admire its awesomeness :) Maybe it's a point that actually all the main characters, like listed in your post, are so good that they are the highlights of the film. Each character is different, but each one is awesome and can prove the film value on its own. Alladin was probably a highlight of everything that 2nd generation excelled at :) The idea of animator supervising one character in order of making it unique - in opposite of the way how 9 old men split the work by scenes - it shows it's value in Alladin because nobody could do the character the way it is done by their supervisors. Nobody could do Genie the way as Eric Goldberg done, and nobody else could do Jafar the way you did. The sincerity of Alladin or the charm of Jasmine are so much connected with spirit of Glen Keane and Mark Henn! And the sidekicks are probably the most funny ones in all Disney features ever made. Especially the parrot! :) I love this film!

  3. Please post more on Jafar's animation, if you have the opportunity, his movements are so fantastic and full of energy!

    Also thank you for sharing the thoughts of Frank and Ollie + Marc Davis!
    I was always curious about what the 9 old men thought of the new films.

  4. Thanks Andreas. This post is special. You (all) inspired an entire generation with your work from this period. The faces in the photo are so familiar! I remember flipping through John Culhane's "Aladdin: The Making of an Animated Film" over and over... To anyone who loves animation, I recommend you get that book (if you don't have it.)

  5. Thank you always for posting such valuable insights and memories. I can't say I blame Frank and Ollie's, and Mark Davis' reservations regarding the pacing and contemporary references. (I thought it worked for this kind of film) but in my opinion that kind of more "frenzied" pacing---- accompanied by contemporary references was something that the old Warner Bros. animation was famous for. I felt a similar kind of tone in films like Hercules and The Emperor's New Groove. Not a criticism just a personal observation what seemed to be a dramatic departure from Disney pacing and style during the 9 Old Men's Time.

  6. Aladdin to me seemed to be a movie where you guys were trying to push the boundaries of Disney animation. I think this could be a reason why some of the Nine Old Men were a bit reserved about the work. I respect the heck out of those guys but they did believe in a curtain type of Animation. After the 1940's Disney Animation was about perfecting a style they had already developed. I wish you guys were allowed to push animations boundaries further and further after each picture. However, management obviously had other thoughts.

    Andreas you and your colleagues created some fantastic childhood memories with this movie. I thank you for that. And thanks for the post as well.

  7. I remember being blown away by this movie when i saw it in the theatre and couldn't wait to go back and see it again. I was already an animation fan but Aladdin pretty much cemented my desire to be an animator as a career

  8. It's incredible Aladdin was released 20 years ago...
    It inspired me so much I must thank you all for what you did :)

    I must confess that I rather liked the "new" Disney movies when I was a kid, I suppose because it matched more with the trends we were exposed to.
    Now the more I learn the more I get amazed with old Disney movies, their perfection and infinite source of inspiration.
    I'm sure the same thing will happen with kids that are now watching those super-fun 3D movies.

  9. I loved Aladdin (still do, by the way). Together with the Little Mermaid, those are my favourite modern Disney movies. I've always been more partial to human protagonists.
    While Beauty & the Beast was also awesome, I didn't care for the characters bursting into song every other scene.

    I'd love to hear more about the creative process that went into developing the characters of Aladin.

  10. I've heard that the production was really hard on the artists. But the result of that hard work is visible in the movie. I always thought that the colours were fantastic in Aladdin, definitely a huge improvement from Beauty and the Beast. All the artwork is great and fits together really well.
    And now you all have 20 years' worth of experience and learning on top of that!
    Disney are really missing the chance to blow the lid off the whole medium by not keeping you guys around, and not giving the artists the freedom to do different stuff.

  11. I really think Aladdin is The Best film of that second golden age. Everything is just firing on all cylinders. A great story, great humor that despite lots of modern references was allowed because of the Genie's otherworldlyness, strong personalities for every character. Jafar was a perfect villain in vocal performance, character development, design and animation- Just a really great film.

  12. Hi Andreas,
    Thanks for posting this! I was young when Aladdin came out, and it changed everything for me in regard to my interest in animation. The character of Jafar made me sit up and take notice of villains for the first time ever; the combination of fantastic drawing (those angles and lines... stunning!), bold colouring and the fresh breeze of something new and different blowing through the Disney studios was an eye-opening experience. I went out and researched the animators and other films they had been involved in, and went on to buy John Culhane's book on the making of the film. It was the start of a lifelong fascination with animation in general, and also an inspiration to take up my pencil again after being dissuaded from a career in art at school. I loved the fast and clever pace of the film, it felt like a thoroughly modern film, a new style and pace of animation for a new kind of audience, and it revolutionised my ideas about where animation could be taken as an art form.
    I've even been lucky enough to find a copy of Frank & Ollie's book "The Disney Villain", which I'm enjoying so much.
    So on behalf of all those inspired by your excellent work on this film (and so many others), thank you! And please keep writing your wonderful blog, it's a marvellous insight for all those who follow your work. :)

  13. The animation dream team! You guys were so inspirational to me when deciding what kind of animation I wanted to do after school. It was Jafar's acting and gestures that sold me on wanting to be a Disney artist, and I am so grateful for all of your amazing work. From work on Gaston to Herculese, from Jafar to Scar, from Triton to Mama Odie, your work is unparalleled. Certainly better than anything being put out today.

  14. This is the movie that made me want to work in cartoons when I was 9 years old! After that I started making sketches of my Disney VHS covers in hope that I would get better at drawing so that I could work for Disney Animation one day. As an adult trying to start a career in animation, I learned to appreciate the daring designs and animation style of characters like the Genie, Jafar and Abu. You've mentioned before how the nine old men had a thing or two that they didn't like about the movie but I think you guys should righteously be proud of it. A true classic!

  15. Amazing work by Kent Melton with the Aladdin maquettes.

  16. Greaaaatttttttt Artisttt,... Aladdin was a fantastic animation movie because this man were in behind the scene and never come back that animations.

  17. Sorry to bring back a year old thread, but I recently got a chance to see Aladdin again, and I'm amazed that I find new things to admire about it each time I see it (even though it's one of the three movies I know better than any other movie in history). As a composer, I must give much kudos to the score by Alan Menken, which is incredibly rich in its use of already amazing thematic material. The way he uses the main melody of "Arabian Nights" in "The Cave of Wonders" cue is especially chilling, specifically on that shot of the desert as Aladdin is leading Jafar through the wind on his horse to the tiger head of the cave. With all of the Legacy Collection albums that have been released recently, I hope Disney gives this one the full score treatment the way they did with The Little Mermaid and The Lion King.

    The animation and craftsmanship on this film knocks me flat: this is one of the best blends of hand-drawn animation with computers ever produced, and I think that the character animation is some of the best in all of Disney; I think it rivals or even exceeds The Jungle Book, which I know is revered by many as the character animator's "Holy Grail."

  18. I love this movie and I'm going to see the Aladdin musical in Stuttgart, Germany in November.

  19. Danke fürs Teilen dieses Gruppenfotos und Ihren Erinnerungen! 😚☺️
    Es freut mich zu lesen, dass die Beteiligten auch ihre Freude daran hätten, so wie ich, als ich Aladdin mit meiner Cousine, meinen Cousin und meinen Bruder damals gemeinsam im Kino gesehen hatten! 👍😃
    Ich fand Aladdin ausgesprochen zeitgemäß! So frisch, so witzig und so ans Herz gehend! 👍👍😃