Noell Wolfgram Evans: What did you learn from working on Aladdin?
Eric Goldberg: Coming from a background in television commercials, where everything had to be spelled out and executed for agency approval and quick turnaround, I learned at Disney's how the various contributions of all the artists enriched the films and launched them into the big-budget feature realm. Specialists in each department were encouraged to work at the top of their game, so we got spectacular, spatial layouts for the characters to move around in, beautifully detailed background paintings, a color scheme that not only was consistent but had its own logic, and handsomely tapered thick-and-thin clean-up linework that looked like inked drawings, to name but a few of these enrichments. Guiding hands were there from the supervisors of course, but the system allowed for much more creative input from the whole crew. If my fellow Genie animators had a particularly funny take on a scene, and it worked, I was happy to include it. For example, the "mushmouth" faces on Aladdin and the Genie, as the blue guy manipulates Aladdin's mouth to say "Genie, I wish you free", were purely the contribution of the animator, Broose Johnson. It made me laugh, so if it ain't broke...
What do you think the studio learned from this film?
I think they learned that it's possible to take risks and left turns in their films, and still have them pay off at the box office, as long as the core Disney values of good storytelling, rich characterizations, fantasy, and a lot of heart are still present.
What do you think about Aladdin looking back on it today?
I'm delighted to feel that the film still holds up. We had a Special Edition premiere at the El Capitan theatre in Hollywood, and the live audience reacted with as much enthusiasm and joy as if it had been created yesterday. Walt built his films to last for many generations, and I hope our films will honor that legacy as well. Time will tell, I suppose.
What was your favorite scene in Aladdin?
I have several, I'm afraid! They are:
The confrontation between Jasmine [and Jafar] (as he explains he has already beheaded Aladdin), animated by Mark Henn and Andreas Deja.
The pagoda scene, where Jasmine catches "Prince Ali" in his lie (Glen Keane and Mark Henn).
Of the scenes I got to animate, my favorites are the Genie's Cab Calloway-style dance down his own tongue, and Aladdin and the Genie's final goodbye scenes, where the Genie realizes he's finally free, and how much he's going to miss "Al." Can't have Disney without the heart!