Arabian Nights (1974) – Pier Paolo Pasolini


This recommendation from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book for The Thief of Bagdad, ending up just being an odd watch. The story itself is a loose framework to share other, romantic and erotic tales, based on ancient tales from the Middle East.

The central plot follows Nur-E-Din (Franco Merli), a young man, who falls in love with a slave girl, Zumurrud (Ines Pellegrini) who actually gave him the money to buy her, because she had been granted the right to choose her new master.

The two seem fitted for one another, and fall quickly in love, but when Nur-E-Din makes a foolish mistake, the two are parted, and he sets off in search of the woman he loves.

Along the way, both he and she encounter various characters, who share their own stories of love, lust and loss with the two leads. For me, the film just looks like it was put together too haphazard, and slap-dash, and thus I couldn’t even find a way into the story. I will say this for it though, Pasolini has no fear about nudity for any of his actors, and there is tons of it, from both sexes, so this may not be one to share with the family.

While I thought the locations were gorgeous, and exotic, the way the film is shot, it just all looks so bland, even the nudity. There is no beauty, no erotica to this tale at all, and I simply wasn’t engaged in the film at all. I like the fact that the entire cast look like real people, not some Hollywood-ized version of beauty and sexuality, these are real people, with flaws, and that was appealing. But I just couldn’t find a way into the film to enjoy it properly.

Still, as far as introductions to other types of worldwide cinema, this one definitely served its purpose, and while the way Pasolini tells his stories is something I enjoy, the way he shoots, and the look of his films, or at least this one, did absolutely nothing for me. To me the image felt flat and bland, and nothing, not even acting or story, could make it pop.

So while this one was an interesting title to throw out as a recommendation for a screening of Thief of Bagdad, for me, this one was a swing and a miss. I could be wrong, and I’m honestly not opposed to going back at some point, and giving it another watch, but for now, let’s leave this one behind and move on to the next…

Did you see it?







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