Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Thief of Bagdad

The Thief of Bagdad; Fantasy, UK, 1940; D: Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan, S: John Justin, Sabu, Conrad Veidt, June Duprez, Rex Ingram, Miles Malleson

Basra. The blind Ahmad and his dog get summoned to the royal palace by a maid. There he tells the maids his story: a long time ago, he was a Calif in Baghdad and employed the evil wizard Jaffar. But Jaffar placed him in a dungeon and took over the throne himself. In jail, he met the little thief Abu with which he escaped to Basra. There Ahmad fell in love with a princess, but Jaffar took her away from him and blinded him, turning Abu into a dog. But when the spell disappears, Abu turns back into a human again and Ahmad gains his sight back. Abu finds a genie in a lamp on the beach and kills Jaffar while Ahmad finds his princess again and regained his throne.

Adventure fantasy classic "The Thief of Bagdad", directed by three directors out of whom the film pulled out the maximum result, especially from the genius Michael Powell, is considered by some critics to be the best adaptation of the tale of 1001 nights. Opulent and imaginative fairy tale, with a few occasionally brutal scenes, abounds with fantastic ideas: Jaffar gives the Calif a mechanical horse who gets wind-up with a key in his rear end; Abu finds the giant genie from the lamp; flies on a rag and fights a giant spider; the giant genie descends down from a canyon..."Thief" has a rather messy narration but just like many fantasy movies from those times it's a real original, an avant-garde achievement that isn't ashamed of unusual, extravagant solutions, a dreamy ode to imagination, while the charming special effects won an Oscar.


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