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Romantic Tales of Princes, Demons, Thieves and Lovers,
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This review is from: Arabian Nights [DVD]  (DVD)
Pasolini's first two adaptations of stories covering rough, raunchy Medieval life include The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales. This one, Il Fiore Delle Mille e Una Notte - loosely translated to Arabian Nights - is visually the richest and probably the most disturbing. Rather than following the plots of each tale in sequence, the narrative moves through a series of incidents and consequences, gradually building up a sumptuous tapestry of Arabian mysteries and legends.
The central theme - a poor boy seeking his first and only love who has been kidnapped - runs throughout the film while surrounding narratives gain strength and intensity as the piece builds. The film was shot in Iraq, Yemen and Nepal, providing exactly the right atmosphere for tales of djinns, robbers, princesses and slaves. You can almost smell the sandalwood and hear the swoosh of flying carpets as you view desert scenes, desolate Arabian coasts and Medieval castles and tenements, apparently build from mud and sand.
Pasolini worked in the 60s and 70s - a liberated era when inhibitions were few and religious sensibilities were less delicate than today. Anyone who finds nudity offensive - particularly male, and in considerable detail - might find this film offensive. It is by no means pornographic, however. The sex scenes, such as they are, tend to be rather insipid but the language and visual material that precedes them is sensual, playful often erotic. The stories show love in all its manifestations, both sexual and otherwise. An enjoyable and thought-provoking film which, with the other two, make a great trilogy from 70s Italian cinema.