See This: Arabian Nights

Pasolini's Arabian Nights
More than one string to his bow: Pasolini's Arabian Nights




Pasolini’s beautiful, erotically charged Arabian Nights took Cannes by storm in 1974 but all these years later it’s an almost forgotten film and the director seems to have fallen even further out of favour than fellow Italians Visconti, Fellini or Antonioni. Perhaps he’s gone so far out of fashion that he’s about to come back in via the back door. The film is definitely worth a look, being the third and best in his Trilogy of Life series. More completely than Canterbury Tales and The Decameron, Arabian Nights showcases Pasolini’s eye for unconventional beauty – both male and female. To get a taste of Islamic authenticity, Pasolini shot his handful of the 1001 nights in Iran and Yemen (with other sequences in Nepal and Ethiopia)  – locations that still don’t get their shake of the stick even all these years later. The sense of place is as strong as Pasolini’s cod-medievalism is unorthodox and the influence of Arabian miniatures is everywhere. Arabian Nights, like the original book put together in the Islamic Golden Age, is a portmanteau affair and Pasolini’s selection of the many tales all run with themes of abduction and forced sexual congress. You won’t be surprised, on watching, to be told that Pasolini was very fond of young men  – the film is chock full of cock. But it’s all shot, if that’s the word, in the best possible taste.

© Steve Morrissey 2013


Arabian Nights – at Amazon





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Arabian Nights (1974) Comedy, Drama, Fantasy | 130min | 1975 (UK) 6.8
Director: Pier Paolo PasoliniWriter: Pier Paolo PasoliniStars: Ninetto Davoli, Franco Citti, Franco MerliSummary: In this film inspired by the ancient erotic and mysterious tales of Mid-West Asia, the main story concerns an innocent young man who comes to fall in love with a slave who selected him as her master. After his foolish error causes their separation, he travels in search of her. Various other travelers who recount their own tragic and romantic experiences include stories of a young man who becomes enraptured by a mysterious woman on his wedding day, and a man who is determined to free a woman from a demon. Written by scgary66


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