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The Palace of Arabian Knights (1905)

Le palais des mille et une nuits (original title)
A poor but honest young man wins the hand of a beautiful Princess after facing a series of exciting adventures involving apparitions, cartwheeling skeletons, a dragon, and plump dancing girls from the Folies Bergere.

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A poor but honest young man wins the hand of a beautiful Princess after facing a series of exciting adventures involving apparitions, cartwheeling skeletons, a dragon, and plump dancing girls from the Folies Bergere.

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29 May 1905 (USA)  »

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The Palace of Arabian Knights  »

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Referenced in Filmstunde: Filmstunde 4 (1992) See more »

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Visually Impressive, Otherwise A Bit Below Méliès's Best
1 November 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

This Georges Méliès fantasy feature is impressive visually, with all kinds of interesting detail in the settings, costumes, and the like, plus plenty of Méliès's renowned camera tricks. The story is interesting but often vague, and many of the details are now difficult or impossible to decipher. When Méliès made involved features like this, he used to write a verbal narrative designed to be read at the screening, to explain the action on the screen. Unfortunately, once that gets lost, it becomes very hard for future audiences to appreciate the movie as much as its original audiences did.

The story is the familiar one of a princess who is in love with a young man whom her father does not accept. So the young man has to go through all kinds of ordeals and trials in the hope of winning her hand after all. Many of the sequences are quite involved, and it is worth watching over again to piece together as much of the action as possible. Even then, it is probably not possible to catch all of the detail.

Yet regardless of the missing story details, like almost all of Méliès's movies it is worth seeing for the visual effects. His distinctive backgrounds are often stylized even for their time, but they are always interesting, and often quite elaborate. He throws in a generous supply of stop-action trick shots, pyrotechnics, offbeat choreography, and the like, all of which are good for their time.

This would not by any measure be among Méliès's best features, but then that is a very high standard. Those unfamiliar with his work would find many other Méliès movies more enjoyable than this, but like all of his movies, it still has enough to be worth watching.


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