Highlighted by majestic set design by William Cameron Menzies, this awe-inspiring jaunt through exotic Arabia follows a young thief who faces supernatural challenges to win the heart of his beloved princess.
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A masterpiece of spectacle. The gargantuan sets, the optical effects, and some very impressive blocking with a roaming camera are a testament to how far the art form had come by this point—an inertia that would falter with the advent of sound. The fantastical illusions and overall story momentum are still able to keep me spellbound for 2.5 hours in a time where much faster, modern films struggle to do the same.
Cinematography by Arthur Edeson. "Desire" list: although the mustache is not exactly of an imperishable style his revelry and bouncy energy is actually of the most perennial that can be desired and, accordingly, Douglas Fairbanks will be much more credible as desirable object than Valentino, his rival at the time , much more stuck to the contingencies of the period and therefore less vital in our times.
I admit the cinematography is surprisingly captivating (how often can you say "What an exciting silent film!"?) but to me, watching Fairbanks is the real treat. His hands alone are giving their own wicked performance, telling the viewer about the naughtier elements in the story that were thought to have been edited out of this family-oriented film.
Designed to show off special effects and Douglas Fairbanks. The effects are surprisingly effective for the time. The Fairbanks surprisingly camera conscious and broad - even for the time. It's easy to see who's vanity project this is. The running time may have delivered good value for filmgoers of the time but ought to have been trimmed by about half an hour for better storytelling.