Saturday, 22 August 2009

Always put off till tomorrow what you can do today...

If you haven't read Terry Pratchett's "Lords and Ladies" or seen the animated film Aladdin and the King of Thieves, but intend to, you might not want to read the following post.

Quite a few years ago, I was reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel "Lords and Ladies". Near the beginning of the book, the youngest witch, Magrat, is about to marry King Verence II, who she fell in love with before she (or he for that matter) knew of his royal identity. She is uncertain about whether to go ahead with the wedding, and it is called off until the end of the book. For some reason, during the wedding scene a piece of music came into my head, and I had no idea where it came from. All I knew was the music seemed somehow appropriate... I was sure it must be from a film, where something was supposed to happen at the beginning of the film but, because of the film's main action, was delayed until the end.

For the next few years I pondered this mystery. Every so often I would be reminded of it, and it would sort of sit there irritating me, like a piece of food caught between two teeth.

It was only quite recently that I discovered it was actually even more appropriate to the situation than I had realised. I'm not sure what it was which made me see "Aladdin and the King of Thieves" for the second or third time in my life and the first in many years, but for one reason I'm glad I did.

Check out the soundtrack at 2:05. That's the mystery piece of music. You see, in this film Aladdin and Jasmine are "finally getting married" to quote several lines of the opening song, but the wedding is crashed by the forty thieves, and it doesn't really take place until the end of the film.

Now keep watching the clip until, oh, about 4:44, and you'll hear a remark by the Genie which might cause a few 'brows to raise. To wit : "I thought the ground wasn't supposed to move till the honeymoon." This is what is known as a smutty joke. What he means is "The ground isn't supposed to move until they are having sexual intercourse."

Well, presumably that's what he means. Of course, another interpretation of the line is "They aren't supposed to have sexual intercourse until the honeymoon."

I mean, really, you gotta feel bad for Aladdin and Jasmine. Some people have been a bit confused by the whole wedding angle of King of Thieves, noting that it looked like they were getting married at the end of the original Aladdin film -- y'know, the one which could afford such luxuries as a CGI flying carpet and Alan Menken. Well, that's what they were *going* to do, but The Powers That Be decided to change that... possibly because they were already planning to make a sequel or two, and unlike the people behind Shrek they didn't think it would be a good idea for the romantic leads to be a married couple for the duration of the sequel(s).

So, because of some avaricious executive, the poor young things have to wait from the end of the first film till the start of the third... and *then* they have to wait *again* until the end of the film!

OK, I guess there's some Alan Menken in King of Thieves. This coda (well, the song at least) was originally intended for the end of the first film, but removed because the characters were no longer getting married at the end (I assume).

Actually, quite a few reprises of the "Arabian Nights" song were cut from the first film... you can see them all here. But what's this? A difference in the lyrics! You see, the original, as printed on "aladdincentral" site, had a line about Aladdin and Jasmine "doing just what they all do best". In the King of Thieves version, you'll notice the line has become "May their marriage truly be blessed." Someone had a problem with the original line, and it's not even like it was saying they cut off their ears because they didn't like their faces.

So, to summarize:

Aladdin and Jasmine don't get a wedding at the end of the first film. They try to have one at the start of the third film but they are unable to until the end of the third film. The "ground isn't supposed to move", if-you-know-what-I-mean until their honeymoon. And even after they get married, they aren't permitted to "do just what they all do best", if-even-I-know-what-I-mean.

So, can we construct the Silver Age Disney viewpoint on sex and marriage (which may or may not go together like a horse and carriage) from this?

"Don't have sex until you get married. In fact, it's better if you don't even get married for a long time. And even then, after you get married, it's probably better if you don't do it then either."

DarmoktheGreen, bringing you semi-founded speculation since... um... possibly my Alice in Wonderland post. Or maybe the one about Indiana Jones.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

A pirate I was meant to be!

This should be a lot of fun. I'm a big fan of the Monkey Island series. I wonder how close they'll stick to the original script - new material would be good but I'm also hoping to hear the now-familiar voice of Guybrush performing lines like "You must have mistaken me for someone else, I am not a farmer."

I remember playing Monkey Island 2 when I was a kid - the version which had about 20 discs which you had to keep on taking out and putting in. I never reached the end of it, which was probably a good thing because you kind of need to be familiar with the climaxes of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi to really "get" the ending, two films I wouldn't see for a few years...

But that wasn't my introduction to piratical computer games. That would have been away back in about 1990, when we had a BBC Basic computer, and one of the games we installed was called simply "Pirate". I loved that game. There was no mouse on that computer, and you could give the game only six commands (expressed by six of the function keys) - north, south, east, west, yes and no.

Level one took place in a small sea (actually, I guess it was more of a lake - it was surrounded by coastline after all). Locations included dragon island (where you'd only survive if you had already acquired a sword earlier in your travels) and cat island, where a black cat would tell you its name - a name which would be required as a password to reach the land-based level 2.

Things which could happen to you included:

Killed by the dragon of dragon island
Cursed by a man who you refuse to rescue
Overthrown by your crew and ordered to "walk the plank" (a crocodile, or possibly a shark, eagerly awaiting your arrival in the sea)
Dashed against the rocks in that omnipresent coastline
Losing a battle with an enemy crew of pirates
Shipwrecked on an island and unable to signal for help because you hadn't captured any flags to signal with

That was in level 1. In level 2 you might get stampeded by a boar or struck by lightning... "and your boots smoke!" I never got any further than part way through level 2 so who knows how many wonders awaited later in the game?

Of course, as various characters point out in Monkey Island 3, you can't die in a LucasArts adventure game (unless they're trying something new) so I'm unlikely ever again to read (or hear) the following pronouncement:

"Cap'n, we are done for! The dogs are too much for us."