In the time of the Arabian Nights, the city of Baghdad is ruled by Sultan Ali Bajazeth but actually controlled by the scheming Grand Vizier Ghamal. The poor of Baghdad are aided by Karim, the Thief of Baghdad.
In Bagdad, the young and naive Sultan Ahmad is curious about the behavior of his people. The Grand Vizier Jaffar convinces Ahmad to walk through the city disguised as a subject to know his people. Then he seizes the power telling to the inhabitants that Ahmad has died while he sends his army to arrest the Sultan that is thrown into the dungeons and sentenced to death. Ahmad befriends the young thief Abu that helps him to escape from the prison. They flee to Basra and plan to travel abroad with Sinbad. However Ahmad stumbles upon the beautiful princess and they fall in love with each other. But the evil Jaffar has also traveled to Basra to propose to marry the princess. When they see each other, Jaffar uses magic to blind Ahmad and turn Abu into a dog. Is their love doomed? Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A Historical Treasure, And Good Family Entertainment
The Thief of Bagdad is a treasure. First and foremost, it is a good story. Though my four children's primary exposure to this tale, the most famous of the stories of the Arabian Nights, comes from the Disney Corporation, the Thief of Bagdad held their interest to the end. The story moves along at a good pace and includes a twist or two that reduced predictability. Sabu, who plays the young thief, Abu, also measures up to any of today's teen actors in appeal, judging from the number of times I heard my oldest daughter say, "He's c-u-t-e!"
In 1940, the film won Oscars for cinematography and special effects. Today, of course, those effects seem very dated ("Look, it's Barbie flying through the air," declared my daughter at the sight of the genie flying). Yet they fit into the story well. The film is, after all, over 60 years old. The effects fit with the script. Furthermore, what ones sees in The Thief of Bagdad remained pretty much state-of-the-art for the next twenty-five years. One need only compare the opening montage from a 1967 Star Trek episode to see this. In that, it was quite an achievement.
This qualifies as a family film, though there are a few stabbings near the end. The acting is so obvious and the wounds so bloodless as to those scenes nearly as artificial as animation.
All in all, a fun film worth watching for either an evening of pure entertainment, or for the historical value of the effects. I recommend it.
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