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Nelson Pereira dos Santos,
Joaquim Pedro de Andrade
Brings the spark back after Arabian Nights lulls at Volume 2.
I loved Arabian Nights' first volume and found its second underwhelming in comparison. Fortunately, that spark comes back. On a profound note, the story doubles back on itself as the first vignette focuses on Scheherazade for the first time since the first hour. Like with director Miguel Gomes' earlier appearance, it studies the struggle of having to constantly tell these stories and the limitations that gives her life. However, the film continues on with a story, one which carries the bulk of Vol. 3, as we look into the hobbies and competitions of Portuguese goldfinch keepers, a group of macho men devoted to pushing the envelope with the bird's ability to sing complex songs. While a fine art, it suggests a forced evolution as the finch is noted as the starting point to Darwin's Origin of the Species theories.
This portion is the most reliant on text rather than voice-over as it elaborates each man's life story while showing their diligent focus on raising the birds. They're not working for money here so it's a refreshing break for showing a bigger purpose than employment. Meanwhile, the story takes place for over a week for Scheherazade and it expresses her increasing exasperation silently, mirroring an exasperation with the economic crisis. This volume is perhaps the better made version, with a stronger soundtrack too, though my preference is to Volume 1's unbridled wildness and creativity. This would've been a finer choice for the Oscar submission if Volume 1 wasn't an option. Overall, Arabian Nights is mostly entertaining and always thoughtful, and a much breezier trilogy than one might expect, despite the problems with the mid-section. Many may find it self-indulgent on Gomes' behalf, but for what he's achieved, it's thoroughly warranted.
See the other Volumes for the rest of my review for Arabian Nights.
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