Why is the genie in Disney’s “Aladdin” blue?

From the rich traditions of Middle Eastern lore to the deliberate use of colour to convey narrative themes, the Genie’s blue hue is a masterstroke that contributes to the character’s enduring charm and significance. Let’s delve into the intriguing backstory behind this iconic colour choice.

Published - June 30, 2024 10:00 am IST

Illustration inspired by Disney’s Aladdin

Illustration inspired by Disney’s Aladdin | Photo Credit: PIXABAY

Aladdin’s lovable Genie is undeniably one of Disney’s most iconic creations, forever etched in our hearts since his debut in the 1992 animated film. Voiced by the incomparable Robin Williams, this larger-than-life character has sparked endless imaginations. Many of us have pondered the fantastical scenario: what if we, like Aladdin, had a magical friend capable of granting our deepest desires? It’s a whimsical notion that taps into our wildest dreams and desires.

Yet, amidst all the enchantment, one aspect of the Genie’s persona stands out: his vibrant blue hue. But why blue? 

 The origins of the Genie

The story of Aladdin, one of the most cherished tales from the collection One Thousand and One Nights ( commonly known as The Arabian Nights), has enchanted readers for centuries. This famous anthology of folk stories draws heavily from Middle Eastern and Indian literary traditions. Within these folk stories, genies, or Jinn, make frequent appearances in various forms. These mystical beings, described in the Qur’an as “created of a smokeless fire,” have roots that extend back to pre-Islamic times.

The symbolism of blue: good versus evil

In Disney’s 1992 animated film “Aladdin,” the colour palette is more than just a visual treat; it’s a narrative tool. Blue, symbolising “good,” and red, representing “evil,” are deliberately used to set the tone of the story. Initially, the Genie was supposed to be purple, but the decision to make him blue was intentional. Eric Goldberg, the supervising animator for the Genie in the original movie, explained that the colours were chosen to subtly convey character traits even before the audience fully engaged with them. “The reds and the darks are the bad peoples’ colours,” Goldberg told Smithsonian magazine. “The blues and the turquoises and the aquas are the good peoples’ colours.”

 Deeper symbolism in blue

The choice of blue for the Genie isn’t just an artistic whim. Talking about the same in an interview, Richard Vander Wende, the production designer who developed the film’s colour script, emphasised that blue carries profound symbolism. In Persian miniatures and tiled mosques, blue hues stand out brilliantly against the sun-bleached desert landscape, evoking water and sky. These elements symbolise life, freedom, and hope—qualities that are particularly poignant in a harsh desert environment.

Colour symbolism in Disney movies

Disney’s strategic use of colour goes beyond “Aladdin.” The animation studio often employs colour to underscore character traits and thematic elements. Characters dressed in crimson, like Jafar from “Aladdin,” and the Queen of Hearts, are typically associated with strength, energy, determination, and passion. On the other hand, blue denotes trust, loyalty, and confidence, as seen in characters like Alice, Genie and Jasmine. Through these deliberate colour choices, Disney creates a visual language that enhances the storytelling, making the characters and their journeys even more compelling.

But is there no scientific angle to Genie’s blue hue then?

According to Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum, the Genie’s blue colour is more than just an artistic choice; it’s rooted in science. Prum explains that the Genie’s blue hue is based on the same principle that makes the sky blue. Because the Genie is gaseous, the molecules in his body scatter light in a similar way to the molecules in the sky, giving him his distinct blue appearance. Prum further elaborates that the Genie’s blue colour is attributed to his “substanceless” nature, mirroring the phenomenon of light scattering in Earth’s atmosphere.

The science behind scattering of light

The soft light of the rising sun falls on the scattered clouds to create a beautiful pattern in the sky in Adilabad.

The soft light of the rising sun falls on the scattered clouds to create a beautiful pattern in the sky in Adilabad. | Photo Credit: S. HARPAL SINGH/ The Hindu

Prum breaks down the science behind light scattering, explaining that light from the sun consists of many wavelengths, appearing white when combined. However, when this light encounters Earth’s atmosphere, it interacts with gas molecules, causing the light waves to scatter in different directions. Short wavelengths, such as blue, scatter more, while longer wavelengths, such as red, scatter less. As a result, we perceive the sky as blue due to the predominance of scattered blue light waves.

Prum’s scientific explanation adds another layer of depth to the visual storytelling of “Aladdin.” Through this convergence of science and storytelling, the Genie’s blue hue becomes more than just a visual spectacle; it becomes a testament to the magic of animation and the wonders of the natural world.

Argyria is a rare condition that causes the skin to turn blue-grey. It occurs when silver compounds accumulate in the body, often due to prolonged exposure to silver particles or compounds.
0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.