Arabian Nights – Tell Me That Didn’t Actually Just Happen

Alaeddin; or, the Wonderful Lamp (includes spoilers (even though you kind of know how it goes already))

“Thence he fared into the garden and walked along its length until he entered the saloon, where he mounted the ladder and took the Lamp which he extinguished, pouring out the oil which was therein, and placed it in his breast-pocket.”
~Alaeddin; or, the Wonderful Lamp, Tales from the Arabian Nights

Yes, it does bear a passing resemblance to the Disney movie.

That is to say, Disney “Disney-fied” it – making Alaeddin a bit less of a loser at the beginning, changing or removing the plot bits that were a bit too unbelievable or boring or inappropriate for children, etc.; but, generally speaking, it is identifiable as the same basic story.

But I don’t really want to talk about the Disney movie. Because the original version teaches a rather different life lesson than the movie.

And that is, money can buy you everything. When Alaeddin emerges from the Hoard with his wonderful Lamp, he (eventually) uses it to become possessed of vast riches beyond the scope of Kings. And with this money, and little else, he succeeds. He tosses gold about as he travels though the street, so everybody loves him. He builds a richly decorated pavilion to impress the Sultan. He forks over some fancy jewels to buy the Princess’s hand in marriage. Yup, with money Alaeddin gets pretty much everything he wanted in life.

He also seems to magically gain fantastic conversational skills and prowess as a warrior. He never wishes for these things, at least not that the reader is informed of. But apparently, being filthy rich confers these talents upon a person. Just so you’re all aware 😉

But okay, whatever. Alaeddin kills the evil magician with some very clever tricks, rescues the helpless Princess, and they move into his magnificent pavilion. Everyone’s satisfied and content. They get all set to live happily ever after.

Then the magician’s evil twin comes along.

Like, seriously. Although, since the first magician was evil, I suppose that would be his eviler twin (or perhaps his also-evil twin?). And, if I’m being completely honest, they weren’t twins – just brothers. But still. The concept is there.

Tip for the aspiring writer: if you use the ‘evil twin’ trick in your story, there had better be a darn good reason why you need another practically identical villain after the first one is killed, and I mean other than to make the story eight pages longer.

Still, though, it was nice to read the original source material for the movie – you can see what ideas the Disney folks picked up, and which they wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole (*cough*evil twin*cough*)

Final review of Alaeddin: it can be incredibly long-winded at some parts. That seems pretty much consistent throughout Tales from the Arabian Nights. But it is interesting, so if you can suffer through the winding machinations of the plot and irrelevant substories, you are rewarded with a classic fairy-tale of magic and true love. Or something like that.

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