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Arabian Nights – 1974 Pasolini
- Pasolini’s dedication to shooting in these various, gorgeous locales is admirable. Without a star (though his male muse Franco Citti is here flying around in a small role as a demon), Pasolini made a semi-soft porn– a string of erotic tales shot in areas such as Yemen, Iran, Ethiopia and Nepal.
- It is a Morricone score but there’s not a lot of music here covering the 2+ hours, and Dante Ferretti did the production design (Salo, Casino, Age of Innocence) but this isn’t Salo. The location scout did as much to design the production here as anyone else.
- Non-professional actors, tons of extras and these massive set piece palaces (which are sublime)
- This is the final film in Pasolini’s Trilogy of Life (The Decameron –1971, The Canterbury Tales- 1972) and although the story is really a series of thematically connected (around erotica) yarns like The Canterbury Tales, the fable set-up and the desert location puts it closer to maybe Oedipus Rex (1967) actually.
- At the 40-minute mark- the single greatest frame in the film—the water in front of the massive, decorated stone wall palace (above)
- It is patchy, even for a film based on vignettes. Pasolini goes into Aziz’s story (Ninetto Davoli- great at playing a male bimbo) likes a Russian nesting doll. At the 46-minute mark we’re inside Zumurrud’s (played by Ines Pellegrini) dream for the first time.
- This is Pasolini’s second to last film before he was murdered in 1975 (Salo being his last, and his finest work). There’s little here to suggest he’s capable of something as artistically ambitious or formally rigorous as Salo. If anything, this is a clear regression from works like Terorema in 1968 or even his stunning debut Accattone in 1961 or second Mamma Roma in 1962. Pasolini had shot on location before but I wonder if the loss of control with the location led to the loss of the formal control as well.
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1974