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Leopold von Ledebur
The favorite slave girl of a tyrannical sheik falls in love with a cloth merchant, which puts her life in terrible danger. Luckily, she is beloved of the rest of the harem, which conspires to bring the true lovers together, while distracting the prying eyes of the eunuchs who serve as palace guards. Meanwhile, a traveling dancer is eager to become part of the harem, much to the despair of the hunchback clown who is in love with her. Written by
All one can remember from the complex plot of this movie which is yet another "Arabian" fantasy is the presence of Pola Negri. She plays a dancer in a traveling troupe that is forced to get the attention of the local sheik to protect her fellow performers, and allow the troupe to work the streets of the city. She plays the role of the dancer-courtesan to the hilt and her wild and frenzied dance sequence alone is already worth the price of admission. The settings and costumes are clearly influenced by the aesthetics of Diaghelev's Ballet Russes that were still the hot ticket in Paris when this film was made. Particularly it reminded me of "Scheherazade" choreographed by Mikhail Fokine with Ida Rubenstein and Vaslav Nijinski in the title roles, which I have seen produced by the Marinski Ballet and has similar costumes,(Leon Bakst designed the original costumes and his designs have been preserved) particularly for the eunuch, as the ones in the film. The ballet caused a great sensation when it premiered in 1910 as it turned out to have one of Nijinsky's most memorable roles as the slave. In this film Pola Negri is exquisite in her sultry, sensuous persona and one understands her star status from watching her go for it in this film. She is the seductress-gypsy par excellence and it is only when we see her that the movie really comes alive.
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