Arabian Nights

Il fiore delle mille e una notte

May 20, 1974 (Cannes Film Festival) — 130 minutes, color, 35mm, aspect ratio 1.85:1 — Fantasy
Pasolini’s 11th feature, a beautiful and erotic adaptation of the medieval Middle Eastern folk tales.

Later in 2022, I will post a review of Arabian Nights.

FILMS: Shorts and Documentaries | 1. Accattone | 2. Mamma Roma | 3. Gospel According to Saint Matthew | 4. Hawks and Sparrows | 5. Oedipus Rex | 6. Teorema | 7. Porcile | 8. Medea | 9. Decameron | 10. Canterbury Tales | 11. Arabian Nights | 12. Salo.


Full review forthcoming, but here are a few notes. This film is one of the greatest screen fantasies I’ve seen. It is the third part of Pasolini’s monumental Trilogy of Life, comprised also of The Decameron and Canterbury Tales. Arabian Nights exists in at least four different cuts: the Criterion Collection version runs 130 minutes. The French version runs 111 minutes, and the German cut is 140 minutes. Pasolini has drawn his screenplay from ten of the roughly 101 Arabian Nights tales. Wikipedia provides background of the film.

The Thousand Nights and a Night (also translated as Arabian Nights, as well as The Thousand and One Nights) exists in several translations, including an unexpurgated 1880s version by the explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton. Arabian Nights is a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales, compiled by many authors between the 8th and the 14th centuries, in West, Central and South Asia, and North Africa. You can find a free online version of the classic Burton translation, along with several several more, at

Pasolini focused on ten of the most erotic stories. He structures his screenplay around the adventures of a lovelorn young man (Franco Merli) searching for the slave girl he loves.

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  • Written and Directed by Pasolini
  • Based on The Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights)
  • Produced by Alberto Grimaldi
  • Cinematography by Giuseppe Ruzzolini
  • Production Design by Dante Ferretti
  • Art Direction by Nicola Tamburo
  • Costume Design by Danilo Donati
  • Edited by Nino Baragli & Tatiana Casini Morigi
  • Music by Ennio Morricone

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  • Ninetto Davoli as Aziz
  • Franco Citti as The Demon
  • Franco Merli as Nur Ed Din
  • Tessa Bouché as Aziza
  • Ines Pellegrini as Zumurrud
  • Margareth Clémenti as Aziz’s Mother
  • Luigina Rocchi as Budur
  • Alberto Argentino as Prince Shahzmah
  • Francesco Paolo Governale as Prince Tagi
  • Salvatore Sapienza as Prince Yunan
  • Zeudi Biasolo as Zeudi
  • Barbara Grandi
  • Elisabetta Genovese Elisabetta Genovese as Munis
  • Gioacchino Castellini
  • Abadit Ghidei as Princess Dunya

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There are currently several Pasolini video releases, to own (on DVD and Blu-ray), rent, stream, or borrow from your library, as well as Pasolini books.

Original Video Release (Used for This Review)

The Criterion Collection has released a box set, available in either Blu-ray or DVD, of Pasolni’s complete Trilogy of Life, that includes The Decameron, Canterbury Tales, and Arabian Nights. They have also releases each of the three films as individual discs.

  • Original theatrical release aspect ratio of 1.85:1
  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Introduction by director Pier Paolo Pasolini
  • On “Arabian Nights,” a new visual essay by film scholar Tony Rayns
  • Deleted scenes, with transcriptions of the dialogue from the original script
  • Pier Paolo Pasolini and the Form of the City (1974), a sixteen-minute documentary by Pasolini and Paolo Brunatto about the Italian cities Orte and Sabaudia
  • Trailers
  • New English subtitle translation
Jim's Reviews / Pasolini
Jim’s Reviews / Pasolini

To Be Reviewed 2022 / page updated March 5, 2022

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