Arabian Nights (1974) - Rotten Tomatoes

Arabian Nights (1974)

Arabian Nights (1974)

Arabian Nights




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Arabian Nights Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

This lush anthology of erotic tales was filmed in four countries (Iran, Nepal, Yemen, and Eritrea) over a period of more than two years. Completing the literary cycle begun by Pier Pasolini in Il Decamerone and I Racconti di Canterbury, this one is perhaps the most controversial of the lot, engendering reactions from admiration to dismissal. The connecting story deals with Mur el-Din (Franco Merli), a prince searching for his slave girl lover, Zumurrud (Ines Pellegrini), who has been kidnapped, only to disguise herself as a man, take a wife, and become ruler of a great city. Mur el-Din's quest carries him to the ends of his known world, where he listens to several stories of carnality and betrayal. The continuity and fluidity of the film depend entirely on the version screened, because several different cuts exist; producer Alberto Grimaldi insisted on a 130-minute release, whereas Pasolini and United Artists preferred the unexpurgated 155-minute version with its ten stories all intact.more
Rating: NC-17
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Dacia Maraini
On DVD: Oct 13, 1998
United Artists


Franco Citti
as The Demon
Franco Merli
as Nured-Din
Salvatore Sapienza
as Prince Yunan
Alberto Argentino
as Prince Shahzmah
Abadit Ghidei
as Princess Dunya
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Arabian Nights

Critic Reviews for Arabian Nights

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (2)

A typical puzzlement from Pasolini, a major figure who never made a major film.

Full Review… | October 23, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Full Review… | April 4, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

while Arabian Nights has its share of impressive vistas and narrative trickery, its fundamental emotional disconnect renders it inert--a beautiful bit of exotic fantasy that quickly dissipates

Full Review… | January 4, 2013
Q Network Film Desk

Though not emotionally involving, it's visually beautiful and the stories have a dazzling magical appeal.

Full Review… | August 10, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A lyrical celebration of polymorphous sexuality.

Full Review… | October 23, 2007
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The final film of the Trilogy of Life further develops Pasolini's notions of the relationship of narrative to an idealized medieval world.

Full Review… | April 14, 2004
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Audience Reviews for Arabian Nights


Truth is not in only one dream but in many dreams. At once treachery in this sun-crashed world. Treachery of a slave who chooses her master. Treachery of a Christian who steals the slave for some Moslem buyer who had been refused by her. Treachery of the desert that forces these people to move around to find water for men and cattle alike. Treachery of love itself that is always at first sight, has little to do with discriminating between boys and girls, women and men. Strangely enough for a long time we believe love is nothing but desire and lust leading to suffering and deception, disappointment. And yet we are to find there is a lot more beyond that simple carnal, though also spiritual, appeal, attraction. There is attachment, an attachment that has to do with fate, a curse, a malediction, happiness. Happiness beyond fate, the curse, the malediction of treachery, vengeance, cruelty. On the track of Zumurud, the stolen slave. And Nordine, her chosen master, is the light of the Lord, the light of that happiness. There is a Song of Song atmosphere here when Nordine does not look after his own vineyard and his Zumurud is stolen again, kidnapped by some other man, a Kurd mind you, after the Christian, and his forty acolytes. The Christian ends up on a cross. The Kurd ends up on a cross. And we are delving into the side-tracks of this main story. There is nothing one can do against the will of God. Then more dramatic stories are going to be told, twisted into and around one another with dramas and more dramas all ordered and commanded by fate no one can evade. The story of the tragic love of Aziz and Aziza destroyed or made impossible by Budur who will end up causing Aziza's death and will castrate Aziz. The story of Aziz and Tadji and the decoration of a pavilion in Queen Dunya's garden, the queen who hates men, and the love that will come out of it. The Stories of the two workers, Shahzaman and Yunan, two dramatic stories of fate that enslaves and victimizes human beings, and their choice to drop everything, sons of Kings that they are, and become mendicants to serve God. A vision of God who is totally absent. Fate is not the decision of God but seems to be some kind of force of its own and the only way to compensate for that necessarily negative fate is to dedicate one's life to God. God is abstract. God has no church, no clergy. God only has these mendicants who suffer for his glory, for his rule. Man is taken between the pagan acceptance of fate and the Godlike attitude that leads to becoming a permanent pilgrim on earth. This power of God is captured in civilizations we understand to be Moslem or Hindu, often at the crossing point between old millennium-long beliefs that edge on superstitions and an abstract notion of God that requires absolute submission. The end of the film hence is completely different because it deals with the second, happy and final meeting between Nordine and Zumulud, between the master and the slave turned king in a love that starts with obedience and ends with passion. In this film Pasolini does not follow a painter, nor a story teller, but a poet, the Arabian poet who speaks of love and the success of love beyond all kinds of difficulties, traps, snares, a love that he embodies in a man and a woman, but that is constantly shown as being ambiguous, limitless, without any boundaries. His vision of the mixing of these two cultures, Semitic Islam and Indo-Aryan Hinduism (note it cannot be Buddhism because of the belief in God) is exhilaratingly fascinating. These Arabian Nights are definitely reflecting that meeting point but here Pasolini makes it a metaphor and a parable of the future of humanity that can only find love, life, a reality in the joining of the various traditions of spirituality that humanity has produced in its divine desire to understand and explain what was a perfect mystery for it, viz. life itself that can only be measured and appreciated when death comes.

Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

Pasolini is a provocateur, all hi beauty is a statement againfscism in al his forms. In this movie the visual "magical simplicity" of his shots and scenes match perfectly the irony and magic of this annonimus "old as time " stories

Martin Kalwill

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