To realize this ambitious treatment of a selection of stories from the legendary “The Thousand and One Nights”, Pasolini focuses on the book’s erotic tales. Full of lustrous sets and costumes and stunning location photography, Arabian Nights is a fierce and joyous exploration of human sexuality.
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What a treat! I love this period in cinema history when films like this would play at arthouses, and also at porn theaters. Viva Pasolini! If you want to read the book, by all means get the 4 volume set by Madrus and Mathers. Anything else is censored and sanitized.
And so the trilogy is complete! The structure of this film is ingenious. I'm glad Pasolini didn't adhere to one type of structure with the trilogy, it made each film unique and yet they definitely all feel very connected. Once again the production design and cinematography was amazing. Only complaint is that the ending wasn't as powerful as the endings to the other two movies. That being said, I love this trilogy!
I'm going to have to admit that I just didn't understand this movie. With a production this ambitious, it's difficult to dismiss the awkwardness of the storytelling and stilted performances as shoddy filmmaking, but whatever Pasolini was going for, it was lost on me. Interesting to no end, but I can't say I found out satisfyingly compelling as a film.
A masterpiece on every level. The copious nudity -- mainly male -- never comes across as false, only ever natural, with the actors'/characters' revealed bodies treated much like costumes. The stories reach intellectual sublimity through their earthy simplicity. It is a film for the soul. Morricone's score, invisible in the other films in the Trilogy of Life, stands out here with supreme beauty.
It'd sound a bit wierd to say this is orientalistic. After all the original text was a product of the Orient. But Pasolini does many things to universalize it. What would otherwise be flagrant exoticism is ably recreated into its very antithesis, a celebration of a humanity more anchored to its natural human condition. Pasolini's earlier short Le mura di Sana can shed more light on his vision here. (See my review.)
Pasolini's treatment of the Arabian Nights has an authentic beauty about it, using handheld cameras, and real locations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to present the tales in a unique and original way. The illogical, dreamlike plot twists and arcane customs and language aren't censored or modernized, but presented with a grittiy tone that still is pretty joyful, the love scenes not feeling exploitative or risqué