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Arabian Nights [Blu-ray] [1974]

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Directors: Pier Paolo Pasolini
  • Format: Subtitled
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 27 April 2009
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001TQRO8U
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 137,950 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Following 'The Decameron' and 'The Canterbury Tales', Pier Paolo Pasolini completed his Trilogy of Life series with this adaptation of a number of tales from 'The Thousand and One Nights'. Featuring slave markets and royal bedrooms, magic signs and evil demons, special potions and devious betrayals, the stories all concern love, fate and destiny and were filmed on location in Yemen, Ethiopa, Iran and Nepal.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
One of Pasolini's trilogy of explorations of the medium of storytelling and spoken narrative ("Canterbury Tales" and "Decameron" are the other pair), "Arabian Nights" is the most integrated and coherent of the three. It follows a theme of lust, love, and loss. A slave girl, Zumarud, is empowered to choose her own master - she chooses a youth, gives him the money to buy her, and the pair of them set up home together.
Only he loses her through greed and naivety. He sets out to find her, and the film follows their many adventures and the adventures of those people whose lives they touch. The film is presented in a series of vignettes rather than as a single storyline. In Burton's translation of the 1001 Arabian Nights, King Shahryar believes that all women are inherently unfaithful, and murders each new wife after the wedding night until Scheherazade enters his life. Each night she buys her life by recounting another story, enrapturing the king.
There is no Scheherazade here, but themes of betrayal and greed run through the film. In the main, the setting is in the desert or Arab villages rather than a king's palace. It is a celebration of the beauty of youth and their innocent sexual energy. In one vignette, an old man seduces three youths, in another, a caravan train picks up a young man and young woman and introduces them to one another.
The acting is amateurish and clumsy, but that enhances the eroticism in places - there is none of the confident, rehearsed choreography of the professional here. And yet the sex is passionless, static, unreal. This is a manipulative world where the weak and the naïve are exposed to others who will routinely lie, cheat, steal, and use one another. This is a world in which men have to have love explained to them by women.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 April 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Docudrama, piece of social anthropology or just a surreal film; combines all three into a kaleidoscope of displays. Not for your average Joe however.

Fly on the wall, sumptuous presentation as this sucks on the end and pulls you through the flyscreen and then drops you somewhere between some time in the past, stretching from the biblical to medieval. The cities, are obviously current to the era this was filmed...somewhere over the rainbow lies an untouched land. Evokes the early christian higgledy piggledy building structures of baked clay and tapestry, a type of urban planning ordered grid system nightmare. Here it creates some other world away from the bland European home.

The main protagonists are a female black slave and a young whiter boy, naive to the point of foolishness and then stretching it even beyond that. The world revolves around the sensuality of the woman who makes the mistake of insulting the more powerful of men, setting off a chain of events. The catalyst of the story, but not the whole focus, as Passolini wants to show the Dyonisian spirit of two horned lust. No pornographic viewing, as the sex is clumsy rather than staged porn penetrations.

Sexual bachanal is the main focus and the pounding of human emotions in a world where sex has no barriers, is aptly depicted. Incorporating all forms of human to human bodily contact, this traverses the ancient Islamic world to portray the perfumed gardens of figs and pomegranetes being spliced by ripe bananas, as cloven petals are gently and rudely plucked throughout. All infused with humour at the human condition.
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