To begin with a story: I remember watching “The Thief Of Bagdad” when I was very young with my grandfather (who taught me everything there is to know about films). It was probably the first movie I had ever seen, and I was fascinated by it. A couple of years ago, I learned that Criterion was releasing it on DVD. For those who may not know, the Criterion collection is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest quality. Indeed, this 1940 movie is one the greats. It lifts up the heart. It has adventure, romance, costumes and wonderful music that one critic said is “a symphony accompanied by a movie.” And when I finally got the chance to watch it again, it was still as wonderful as it was some 20 years ago. Of course I had no idea that it was made in 1940 back then, but either way, I didn’t care. I simply loved it. The story I always had in my mind moved from one spectacular scene to another: the flying carpet, the sultan’s mechanical toy, the goddess with six arms, the giant spider, and of course the genie being released from a bottle. Watching all those wonderful scenes after all these years drew a smile on my face. We can certainly read the politics of empire and power from it aswell, but the film insists that we keep a childlike vision and try to identify with our young hero Abu, who in the last scenes, escapes from a boring court life, politics, adulthood, and marriage, in search of more adventure. Another critic wrote: “It’s a film that happily refuses to grow up”. Amen to that brother.
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