Walt Disney Animated Pictures are kind of like the cinematic equivalent of Beatles songs. Though cherished in their original forms, they likewise continue to encourage reimagination by artists across the media. A versatile slew of established filmmakers have begun to try their hands at live-action Disney remakes—indie-to-Iron Man director Jon Favreau gave us this past spring’s The Jungle Book and will handle the recently announced The Lion King; Twilight franchise helmer Bill Condon is hard at work on Beauty and the Beast; even the patron saint of melancholy cineastes, Sofia Coppola, was once attached to a Little Mermaid remake. The next auteur in line for the antic: Guy Ritchie, whom The Hollywood Reporter announces has signed on for a live-action Aladdin movie.
There may not be an immediate harmony to the union of Ritchie’s name and the prospect of an Aladdin remake. At least Condon’s Twilight films could be credited as ethereally connected to Beauty and the Beast through old-age macabre, and The Little Mermaid fit in swimmingly with Coppola’s career-long devotion to adolescent ennui by way of female coming-of-age stories. You’ll have to look a little closer to identify what connects Ritchie’s milieu with the story of the orphaned scoundrel who happens up a magic lamp, and thusly aims for the heart of a local celebrity.
In its way, Aladdin is a long con flick—the sort on which Ritchie has built his career. From his earliest endeavors of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch., to his later attempt at the Sherlock Holmes canon, to his most recent outing, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Ritchie has showcased a ceaselessly faithful relationship with schemes, heists, gambits, bamboozlings, and all factions of con artistry. So Aladdin’s elaborate and magic-addled ruse to dupe Princess Jasmine into thinking he’s some gallant prince isn’t too far outside the realm of Ritchie’s comfort zone.
On that note, we can’t help but make note here of studio cinema’s consistent aversion to reaching beyond its own comfort zone. With outcries against racial homogeny behind the scenes of Hollywood growing ever louder, Aladdin seems like it might have been a good opportunity to give a high-profile picture to an able Arab filmmaker or screenwriter.
Filling the latter position, we have John August, who has written Tim Burton’s Big Fish, Corpse Bride, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as well as the very-Guy-Ritchie-esque-but-not-at-all-directed-by-Guy-Ritchie movie Go. Ritchie and August’s take on Aladdin will, unsurprisingly, employ a “non-linear” form of storytelling and will, much more surprisingly, actually still be a musical.
What do you think of Guy Ritchie as the director slated with a live-action Aladdin? Let us know!
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