Italy, 1974, 130 minutes, Colour.
Ninetto Davoli, Ines Pellegrina, Franco Citti. Margaret Clementi.
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.
Pasolini has again used his Decameron and Canterbury Tales techniques - his own stars, non-professional faces, authentic location photography, stories woven into stories - for these Eastern tales. The result is far more humane than the other two films. In fact, there is a minimum of coarseness and any satire is gentle. There are touches of cruelty, but the visualisation of Eastern stories is much more human than for the Western stories. The central tale has a freshness and innocence about it and the middle story of fidelity, as well as the builders' stories, are quite moving at times. Pasolini's trilogy is now finished - a controversial, yet memorable, series.
1. The quality of the film in itself? As Pasolini's work? As the third part of his trilogy, completing the trilogy?
2. The overall impact of the film? Its presentation of stories, comparison with Boccaccio's Italy, Chaucer's England? Coarseness and sensitivity? The attraction for Pasolini?
3. The initial caption about one dream and many dreams giving meaning? The way this was illustrated throughout the film? In the stories, the dreams and their interweaving?
4. The status of the classic Thousand and One Nights Arabian stories? The literary and imaginative heritage? The role of legend, fable and moralising? Religion, magic, superstition?
5. The importance of the erotic in Pasolini's film? Male sexuality, female sexuality? The importance and joy of love? The reverence for and joy in the human body and nudity? How appropriately presented?
6. The high spirits of the story? There was much coarseness in the previous two films. How much in this one?
7. The interweaving dream and story structure? How well did Pasolini lead us into his stories and move us from one to another? For clarity? to mystify? Did this matter? The stories presented simply for themselves and the audience drawing moral and point?
8. The opening and the focus of the audience on Neredim? The young boy in the city, zumurrud and her being auctioned, her choice of Neredim and arrangement for the money? The Christian who was not able to buy? The leering old men who wanted to buy? The importance of her initiating him into sexuality? Making the cloak, the instructions about selling? Neredim and being attracted by the money? The Christian following him? The atmosphere of the market place? The framework of their being together and Zumurrud telling a story?
9. The characters of Neredim and Zumurrud right throughout the film? Their separation and the search as a framework for the story? Zumurrud and her being captured by the Christian, by the brigands? Her reaction to them? The importance of their escape and her arrival at the city? The irony of the banquet sequence and the soldiers arresting her enemies and killing them? The contrast with Neredim at the end?
10. The atmosphere of the marketplace story, the story of Zumurrud's capture and Neredim and his following? The various people who helped Neredim? The sexual overtones in their helping?
11. The story of the poets and the introduction of it, the caravans moving along, the type of poetry and the emphasis on homosexuality? The caravan carrier and the sequence with the boys? The director's presentation of homosexuality, moral stances, non-moral stances?
12. The story of the boy or the girl who loved more and the choice of the girl, the magic of their sleep? The mutual attraction? The elderly couple? Neither being the victor?
13. The dream sequence of the bird, the snare, the bird going free? The later taking up of this in the painting of the house? The story of Princess Dunia and her eventually marrying Taji?
14. The story of Assiz and the length given to it? His being in the desert and meeting Taji? The occasion for a story? The character of Assiz, the character of Azziza and the preparations for marriage? The attraction by Badur? The symbolism and ritual of the visits to Badur's house? The poetic and symbolic interpretation by Azziza? Her selflessness and the pathos of her lost love and of her death? Azziz and his not being aware of the hurt to Azziza? The erotic encounters with Badur after his going to sleep and overeating? His being waylaid and his infidelity? His having the child? The role of his mother and the return to her? The horror of the vengeance by castration? The point of this story?
15. The importance of the story of the two builders as holy men? The background of the selflessness of the man who tried to rescue the girl, the encounter with the demon, the cruelty of the demon in hacking the girl to pieces, the trick with the shoes? The demon and his taking the builder and turning him into a monkey? The fable of the monkey writing for the sailors, being taken to the king and enthroned? The sacrifice of the king's daughter for the builder's life? His renunciation and selflessness because of the gift of life from the princess? The point of this fable? Its atmosphere and mood within this part of the film?
16. The contrast of the story of the other builder as a holy man? His status as a prince, his wanting to go to sea, the confrontation with the god of the tower, the shipwreck and his climbing and destruction of the wicked god? His being thrown on the shore, the encounter with the boy? The irony of the boy being hidden to avoid death? The tenderness between the boy and the man? The compulsion to kill and his escape? His giving his life because of the death of the boy?
17. The build-up and continuance of Neredim's search? His encounter with the three young girls and the sexual talk? His desire still to find Zumurrud? The encounter with the lion and the lion leading him to Zumurrud? The banquet, the arrest? Zumurrud's tantalising him as regards sexuality and the happy ending? The laughter ending the film?
18. The contribution of the players, professional and anonymous? Pasolini's focus on the details of their features their faces? The variety of exotic locations and the way they were filmed, an eastern world? The musical score? The special effects and their seemingly over-contrivance, eg. with the demon? The lion and studio the rear-projection? The atmosphere of the film, joy and beauty? Issues of human beings, life and death? The values behind the film?