An evil feudal lord rapes a village girl on her wedding night and proceeds to ruin her and her husband's lives. After she's eventually banished from her village, the girl makes a pact with the devil to gain magical ability and take revenge.
Princess Budu sleeps, and dreams. She dreams of whimsical fairies and a wicked, restless beastial spirit. Her dream is one unmoored from identity and self - perhaps she is the fairy, ... See full synopsis »
Aldin, a poor traveling water seller rescues a beautiful slave woman named Miriam from a slave auction in Baghdad. They fall in love at first sight and have a tryst, but the evil sheriff arrests Aldin and takes Miriam for himself. After being tortured, Aldin eventually manages to escape only to find his beloved dying in childbirth. Aldin flees the city and has many more bizarre, dangerous and often tragic adventures including finding Ali Baba's cave of wonders where he meets a tomboy outlaw with a serious grudge against the sheriff, landing on a strange island full of beautiful horny naked women, escaping a gigantic man-eating monster and discovering a ship that's actually a wish-granting genie. Eventually, Aldin returns to Baghdad as a much older and bitter man with the intent of becoming the new king and marrying the princess, who may or may not be his illegitimate daughter. However, nothing goes as planned despite the intervention of two quizzical shapeshifting creatures.
One Thousand and One Nights belongs to the early era of anime, and broke ground in two directions, establishing animation as a possible medium for both mature content (there's a lot of sex) and serious artistic expression. It may be a bit of a leap to attribute all of the great animated films that rise above meaningless kiddie fare to this weird counterculture mash-up, but it certainly suggests that the idea of animation for adults is nothing new. But maybe all of this is expected in a film that Osamu Tezuka, who did the work of several lesser geniuses in his lifetime, had a large hand in creating.
One Thousand and One Nights is a largely impressionistic film -- there is a plot, but it's meandering and kind of meaningless, a very loose adaptation of the Arabian Nights. The animation frequently veers into the experimental, such as incorporating live-action shots of the ocean, or the downright non-representational, such as a polygonal love sequence. Other sequences are just delightful off-kilter cartoon mayhem, like a ridiculously involved duel between wizards. The influence of 60s counterculture is obvious, but I think New Wave cinema is also an inspiration here.
The most obvious flaw is one that will make a lot of people turn away instantly, which is the rather blatant racism and sexism, best exemplified in the crude Arab caricatures. (On the other hand, Disney's Aladdin was pretty racist too, and everyone loved that.) It's also a baggy film, with its 2+-hour running time unheard of for anime, and there are undeniably some parts where it drags. But for the most part it's easy to get caught up in the groove of the film, driven by psychedelic music and images as well as an irrepressible sense of play. And that groove is a very fun place to be. On top of that, any fan of animation owes it to themselves to track down this strange and forgotten gem.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this