The Dove Take:
It’s a whole new world once again, where truth and selflessness are prized above even the most tempting magical illusions.
Despite the presence of a big blue genie claiming to be all-powerful but not all-knowing (how exactly does that work?), there are biblical principles at work in Disney’s Aladdin. For starters, selflessness wins.
The one who seeks power enslaves himself. The one who selflessly gives away a thing of value finds value beyond his wildest dreams. We all know the basics of the story: An Arabian street kid named Aladdin, who uses his smart little monkey friend Abu to steal to feed himself (and in some cases, others), finds a lamp, and in rubbing it to dust it off, encounters a genie who grants him three wishes. He uses the first to become a prince, because that’s what he needs to be to marry a sweet princess, who also has a heart for the hungry.
But the tension in the story comes from an evil grand vizier named Jafar, whose cruel ambition and lust for power leads him to try to overthrow the sultan of Agraba and usurp his position. Jafar chafes at the idea of being second-best at anything and, knowing the power of the lamp before Aladdin found it, stops at nothing to take it for himself. With it, he can become the most powerful being in the land—but he ignores the genie’s previously stated warnings about drinking from the cup of ambition. The genie sounds like he’s paraphrasing Ecclesiastes 5:10, which says, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.”
Jafar tries to drown Aladdin to force Aladdin to give up the lamp. The genie bends some genie rules to rescue Aladdin from the bottom of the sea, but it costs Aladdin his second wish. Jafar pilfers the lamp and uses his three wishes recklessly — first, to become sultan, second, to become the most powerful sorcerer in the world and thirdly, to become the “most powerful being in the universe.” The last one gets him in trouble, just like it got Satan in trouble. The genie then turns Jafar into a genie, which means instead of being free to use power for selfish gain, he’s now bound to a lamp forever. The first is now last (see Matthew 20:16) and will remain that way … unless somebody does for Jafar what Aladdin does for his genie friend.
Aladdin has one last wish left and, rather than spending it on himself, surprises the genie by wishing the genie to be free. The princess, whose heart for people impresses her father the sultan, becomes his chosen successor, despite that a woman hasn’t held that position in the thousand years of the kingdom. With the power now to change the law, she’s no longer bound by it to marry a prince. She marries Aladdin, so he achieves through selflessness and being true to himself, what he couldn’t by magical means.
With those themes being prominent, we award Aladdin the Dove-Approved Seal for All Ages.