What purpose do Disney movie covers serve? To basically grab the attention of a specific audience, get them to watch and enjoy the film while receiving the message that is being told through the story. Walt Disney Pictures is famous for its works of magical and faraway places. They utilize these appeals to tell a story based on the movie cover shown before you even watch the film. Love, adventures, bad guys being defeated by heroic characters; people especially children love these concepts.
Disney fills their movie covers and posters with symbols that represent these desires that will have little Tommy begging his parents to buy him that Aladdin movie. These images serve as an invitation into the magical world and stories behind them. It represents many rhetorical strategies such as metaphors, positioning, facial expressions, and even colors to draw their audience in.
In order to fully understand how well Disney utilizes their rhetorically-filled movie covers, you have to first understand the story being told.
The story being told in Aladdin is that of a poor, low-class boy who lives on the streets and dreams of one day making it to the Grand Royal Palace. He stumbles upon a girl in the marketplace one day, falling in love immediately, and shortly after finds out that she is none other than the Princess of Agrabah. With the help of his friend Abu, Genie, and his magic carpet, Aladdin avoids the evil tricks of Jafar and his parrot Iago, and his wildest dreams come true to live happily ever after with his Princess.
This concept is introduced and symbolized on the small space of Disneys movie boxed by effectively using rhetoric.
Probably the biggest desire in a child-based audience is to see good over evil being clearly illustrated. In order for children to tell if good will defeat evil, they have to be able to know the difference between good and bad. Colors and expressions are what Disney focuses on to clearly distinguish between this. All of the good guys can be seen wearing bright, vibrant, warm colors with a happy smile on them, whereas the bad guys will be wearing dark, gloomy colors and frowning or angry. This makes it easy for children to pick out whos the good guy and the bad guy because they associate seeing happiness with good guys, and anger with bad guys.
Colors emphasize this concept of portraying who is good and bad even more in-depth. Looking closely to Jafar in the cover, he and Iago are colored in dark colors. Jafar is seen wearing a dark robe with deep red hues, and Iagos entirely covered in red feathers; giving both of them a negative image. Dark colors can be associated with anger and unhappiness, while bright and vivid colors such as blue, purple, green, yellow, etc. are associated with joyful love and happiness. Red is an exception to being immediately classified as a good or bad color since it can both represent excitement and passion but also intense fury against the main character, which Disney utilizes in Jafar and Iagos color scheme. Children will also come to the conclusion that since Aladdin is brightly colored and happy, he will win; Jafar is dark-toned and angry, so he loses.
Positioning also puts a big emphasis on the difference between good and evil. In the cover for Aladdin, Jafar is found at the very bottom corner, looking angrily up at Aladdin with his fists balled up in fury. Aladdin is safe and far above his nemesis, riding happily on the magic carpet with Princess Jasmine, Abu, and Genie. The positioning shows Aladdin safe out of harms reach giving him a sense of being untouchable and comfortable. The safe separation this position displays also plays a part in setting up the romantic, happily ever after aspect with Jasmine riding alongside him as they soar through the sky.
Another hugely desired theme that children have when looking at covers such as this is a sense of protection, love, and security. Positioning once again rhetorically supports and emphasizes this. Aladdin is closely surrounded by his friends; he is riding on his friend the magic carpet with Abu, Jasmine, and Genie right by his side. They are all smiling and happy and give off a warm circle of positivity because of this. Genie is also used to portray a fatherly figure, being very large and looking down at Aladdin and smiling. It strengthens the portrayal of the sense of security in his group of friends, and kids crave security. It makes them feel safe and protected and this draws them in even more.
Disney uses string metaphors to portray two of the main characters through the story being told – Abu, the monkey, and Genie. Abu is a metaphor for the close friend that sticks by your side through everything, regardless of the circumstances. He is a tricky, sneaky monkey that helps Aladdin get into all sorts of mischief and fun, which kids relate back to their closest friends. It gives them a personal connection with the storyline and makes them that much more interested and excited by the story being told. Genie is a powerful metaphor as well, playing the role of a fatherly figure. He is fiercely loyal and protective of Aladdin and even when he wishes to become prince, Genie tries to get Aladdin to tell the truth and do what is right. Through their ups and downs, Genie is still always there to help him through whatever obstacle he may have to face, and the use of Genie like this strengthens the sense of safety and security in the child-based audience through all the difficulties their hero face in the movie.
Disneys use of rhetoric is really effective at targeting their child-based audience for movies such as Aladdin. Just from the appearance of the cover alone, a child can tell good will defeat evil, that magical journey will take place, and feel a strong sense of security for the good guys. Kids hunger for this cheerful and perfect world, and Disney gives what they want through rhetorical means of bright colors, happy faces, and carefully planned positioning.