In the Lamp
One key to master storytelling is the art of folding. That includes all sorts of techniques of overlapping narrative, spanning from overarching metaphor to stories within stories. It is an ancient technique, as old as any story we know. It is especially present in the “Arabian Nights” stories, signified by what’s inside the lamp.
The writer of this film understood the singular advantage of the material and made changes to emphasise the folds: the warring genies played by the same actor; the many bleeds between the framing story and the inner stories, and most particularly in the outer framing layers. The whole thing could be what we see from the magical giant, or what his wife whispers in his ear, or how the interloper makes love… or what the teller in the market tells, and that’s well before you get into Scheherazade’s double nesting: telling the story to her kids and/or telling to her husband.
Once you have that, you have a success. Add in some beautiful faces (Vanessa Mae), some lush (but somewhat comic) costumes and really successful locations, and you’ve got something that works, even in the face of imperfect directing and pacing.
One thing that’s wonderful about these stories, the originals, is how they cover the “orient.” This is extended here in referencing locations and peoples in various Arabian locations plus, Persia, Africa, China, even Tibet.
Posted in 2004
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.