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8 user 3 critic

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.

Director:

Georges Méliès
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Cast

Credited cast:
Georges Méliès ... The Sorcerer Khalafar
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Storyline

Combining opulently designed scenery, lavish ensembles, and an abundance of theatrical props with a festival of spectacular visual effects, this astonishing oriental féerie of thirty impressive tableaux forms a burlesque concoction of Asian exoticism and the Folies Bergère. Although penniless, the noble and love-smitten Prince Sourire (Smile) of Arabia aspires to marry the alluring Princess Indigo, daughter of the powerful Sultan Rajah, unbeknownst to him that the love of his life is already promised to the unscrupulous usurer, Sakaram. However, the inconsolable youth is not alone. By a welcome twist of fate, the puissant genie of the lamp and mighty sorcerer, Khalafar, takes Smile under his wing, furnishing him with a formidable enchanted sword to confront the innumerable pitfalls strewn in his path. Up against murderous skeletons, malevolent djinns, and a furious dragon, the valiant prince will eventually find himself before the munificent Gold Fairy at the glorious Palace of the ... Written by Nick Riganas

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1900s | 900s | anatolia | east | eastern | See All (75) »


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Details

Country:

France

Release Date:

29 May 1905 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Palace of Arabian Knights See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Star-Film See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Color:

Color (hand-colored)| Black and White
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Connections

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

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User Reviews

Typical Fairytale Adventure from Méliès
2 February 2008 | by CineanalystSee all my reviews

This is a rather typical fairytale adventure from Georges Méliès, but not a very good one. Two of his better ones that I've seen are "Bluebeard" (Barbe-bleue) (1901) and "Kingdom of the Fairies" (Le Royaume des fées) (1903). The overriding problem with "The Palace of Arabian Nights" is its dawdling pace, which makes Méliès's typical tableau, theatrical style most cumbersome. It seems that Méliès became too caught up in portraying supposed Arabian and Indian designs and magic, but also he relies more here upon theatrical effects rather than on narrative and his usual exuberance and wit. Additionally, the dissolves, which John Frazer ("Artificially Arranged Scenes") suggests were being done now with a printer instead of the old way of in the camera, are longer, and they are, unfortunately, the transition between every scene.

On the other hand, the stage designs are quite good for the time. The Ice Palace is a standout, as is the separation of layers of the jungle to reach the Ice Palace. The poor, fuzzy quality of the Grapevine video I saw, however, didn't allow me to fully appreciate this aspect. I hope that in Flicker Alley's upcoming release they will have a clear and colorized print (one does exist) of the film with narration (which would clear up some ambiguous story details and which Méliès provided scripts for when his films were originally exhibited, although I don't know whether Méliès's original script for this one is still known to exist). Additionally, this time the fairy godmother (the usually designated character who guides the heroes and manipulates the narrative in Méliès's fairytale films) is a female portrayal of the Hindu god Shiva, who at first provides the suitor, or Aladdin (played by Méliès), with a genie dwarf and, later, leads several fairies in presenting Aladdin with the treasure.

EDIT: The Flicker Alley set does, indeed, feature a hand-colored print with narration.


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