Monday, May 2, 2011

The Magic of Aladdin

The Disney animated feature film Aladdin is one that is filled with magic, most notably as worked by the characters of the Genie and Jafar.

The Genie uses his magic to aid Aladdin, the film's protagonist, and serves in the wizard's traditional role as guide. Jafar, on the other hand, is in the tradition of Disney wicked witches; he is the ill-intentioned counselor to the Sultan of Agrabah and uses his magic to usurp the throne and, later, the phenomenal powers of the Genie. Besides sharing a tutelary role, both the Genie and Jafar are adept at transformative magic. The Genie is an especially protean creature:

Jafar also displays skill in shape-shifting and borrows tricks from both the Evil Queen of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:

and Maleficent of Sleeping Beauty:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Jared in Labyrinth

Jared (played by David Bowie), the human-looking Goblin King, of Labyrinth , a film by Jim Henson, is another magic-user, though we never learn if his magic is innate due to his goblin nature or learned. He is essentially a male enchanter attempting to lure the human girl Sarah into his otherworldly realm:

The film was re-released to DVD and Blu-Ray recently as part of a 20th-anniversary edition that includes a commentary track by some of the filmmakers, and Tokyopop has produced a manga series, Return to Labyrinth, that continues the story.

Wizards of The Last Unicorn

Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn features three magic-wielding figures: Mommy Fortuna, an aged witch; Mabruk, a traditional-looking wizard; and Schmendrick, an untraditional mage. The three are primarily engaged in transformative magic, though Fortuna is also adept at creating illusions. The Last Unicorn was first published in 1968 and adapted into a feature film in 1982 and a comic book series in 2010; the film has been released to DVD as part of a recent 25th-anniversary edition and, now, a blue-ray edition with commentary by Beagle.

Narissa from Enchanted

Narissa, the magic-wielding antagonist from Enchanted, is a combination of preceding Disney villains, including the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Evil Stepmother from Cinderella, and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Narissa is a wicked queen and stepmother plotting the downfall of her stepson and his bride to be, and she uses magic--borrowing tricks from both the Evil Queen and Maleficent--in an attempt to do away with the lovers.

Rafiki the Wizard?

Rafiki, a shaman-like character featured in The Lion King and its various paratexts, serves many of the functions of a traditional wizard in his role as adviser to kings and their children:

Despite a sex change, Rafiki continues this role in the stage adaptation of The Lion King. He also has magical abilities as detailed in the Timon and Pumba cartoon show.

Wizards of The Secret of NIMH

Directed by Don Bluth, The Secret of NIMH is an animated film, based on the novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien, that offers a skilful blending of fantastic and science-fictional themes. The two genres are united in the wizardly figure of Nicodemus, an evolved rat that possess foreknowledge, skills akin to technomancy, and shape-shifting abilities; he also serves, as I noted in "The Way of the Wizard," in the wizard's traditional role as mentor to the film's protagonists. Nicodemus's physical appearance further suits his role as wizard, and he is depicted as an aged figure in long, flowing robes; his alter ego, the Great Owl, shares some aspects of his wizard character, and is both aged and a guide figure.

The trailer for the film can be viewed on YouTube, and the complete film can be watched on and purchased on DVD from the usual vendors. Of note, a recent special edition released on DVD in 2007 includes commentary by the filmmakers,