Arabian Nights (1974)

arabian nights poster 1974 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great locations, more story based than the other movies of the Trilogy of Life

Not for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Arabian Nights

Studio:  Produzioni Europee Associate

Genre(s):  Drama/Adult

Release Date(s):  June 20, 1974

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

arabian nights nur e din zumurrud ines pellegrini franco merli

I choose you, Pikachu!

Young Nur-e-Din (Franco Merli) has been selected by a beautiful slave girl named Zumurrud (Ines Pellegrini) to be her master.  When Zumurrud is spirited away by abductors, Nur-e-Din sets out to find his love again.  As Zumurrud and Nur-e-Din seek each other out, they encounter others who struggle with love, sex, and the problems that come with them.  The odds are stacked against Zumurrud and Nur-d-Din…can they find love again?

Directed Pier Paolo Pasolini, Arabian Nights (Il fiore delle mille e una notte aka The Flower of the One Thousand and One Nights) is a loose adaptation of stories from The Arabian Nights (or The Book of One Thousand and One Nights).  The film is part of Pasolini’s Trilogy of Life series which includes The Decameron (1971) and The Canterbury Tales (1972).  The film received critical acclaim (it won the 1974 Grand Prix Special Prize at the Cannes Film Festival) and the Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the Trilogy of Life films (Criterion #631) with Arabian Nights as Criterion #634.

Piere Paolo Pasolini has a vision…it just isn’t everyone’s vision.  Pasolini’s film ooze the “good” and the “bad” of sexuality and aspects of human nature.  I had seen the “bad” (aka Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom), and I was curious about the more positive Pasolini Trilogy of Life films which that film was essentially a reaction to…Arabian Nights was my first stop.

arabian nights sex challenge

I like to make bets on sexual assault

While The Decameron is more vignettes of stories and The Canterbury Tales has a blanket story, Arabian Nights has more of a story filled with other stories.  I found the story of Nur-e-Din and Zumurrud actually kind of compelling from their meeting (the unusual aspect of her choosing him to be subservient to) to his continuous screw-ups which led to her being lost.  The stories they hear along the way are all sex based and range from two people betting on sex between two young people to a man who falls in love with another woman on his wedding day.  The stories feel a bit long at times, and I kind of wanted to return to Nur-e-Din and Zumurrud.

The film is an ensemble cast film since it is primarily stories.  Pasolini’s regular Ninetto Davoli plays a large role in the movie as the man who falls in love with another woman on his wedding day (and pays the price for it) and Franco Citti (who later appeared in The Godfather and The Godfather Part III) also has a prominent role, but I still argue that Franco Merli and Ines Pellegrini’s performances are the real heart of the movie.

arabian nights ninetto davoli

This girl has some fetishes

The movie is also aided by the visuals.  The movie is an adult film (there is lots of nudity and sex as in many of Pasolini’s films), but the movie also benefits from the great locations in the film.  Pasolini traveled to Iran, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Nepal among other sites.  It feels like a big picture, and it is sad to think that many of the areas in the film are no longer accessible.

Arabian Nights isn’t a fun magical romp like something in Aladdin or The Thief of Bagdad, and you can’t go into it expecting that (I imagine the horror of someone sitting their kid down to watch it).  The overt sexual nature of the film will turn a lot away (it has a man shooting a woman with a penis shaped arrow as an example) and the movie is loaded with nudity and sex.  Unlike the other Trilogy of Life films, the movie feels more story based…and that might be a good thing.

Related Films:

The Decameron (1971)

The Canterbury Tales (1972)

Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response