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The Thief of Bagdad

(1940 c 106')

En: 7 Ed: 7

A king with the help of a thief escapes from his evil vizier, falls in love, is blinded, loses his love, regains his sight, is caught, and is saved by the thief.

Jaffar (Conrad Veidt) has Halima (Mary Morris) summon the blind beggar Ahmad (John Justin) to his harem. Ahmad tells the story of the thief Abu (Sabu). King Ahmad asks his vizier Jaffar why a man was executed for ideas. Ahmad learns people hate him; but Jaffar has Ahmad put in prison, where he meets the thief Abu. They escape and take a boat to Basra. Soldiers drive people away so no one will see the Princess (June Duprez). Ahmad hides and sees her. In her garden the Princess discovers Ahmad, who says he came from beyond time and kisses her. Jaffar visits Basra and shows its Sultan (Miles Malleson) a new toy, a horse that flies. Jaffar asks for his daughter. The Princess hears and flees. Ahmad is caught and sees Jaffar, who uses magic to blind him and turn Abu into a dog. Ahmad is taken to the sleeping Princess and wakes her. She boards a ship to find a doctor for Ahmad and is taken away by Jaffar, who throws the dog overboard. The Princess lets Jaffar take her into his arms so that Jaffar will restore Ahmad's sight; the dog turns back into Abu. The Princess resists Jaffar and sees Ahmad in a boat. Jaffar causes a storm. Abu is shipwrecked on a beach. The Princess asks Jaffar to take her back to Basra.

The Princess pleads with her father so she won't have to go with Jaffar to Baghdad. Jaffar shows the Sultan a new toy with six arms that stabs him. Abu finds a bottle and frees its Genie (Rex Ingram), who wants to kill him. Abu doubts he can go back in and gets him to do so. The Genie promises Abu three wishes. Abu asks for sausages and wants to find Ahmad. The Genie flies Abu to the goddess with the all-seeing eye. Abu climbs the statue and a web, fighting a spider with his sword. Abu takes the eye and sees Abu in a canyon. The Genie flies Abu to Ahmad. Abu shows Ahmad the Princess in the eye. She smells a flower and forgets everything. Abu wishes Ahmad were in Baghdad, and the Genie leaves. Jaffar tells the Princess that she loves him. Ahmad appears and fights guards until he is captured. Abu sees this and smashes the eye. Abu finds himself in the land of legend and is given a bow. Abu steals the magic carpet to save Ahmad by shooting the executioner and taking Ahmad away. Jaffar flies on the horse, but Abu shoots him with a dart. In the final scene Ahmad with the Princess tells his people that Abu will be his vizier; but Abu says he is going off for adventure.

Based on the Arabian Nights tales, this fantasy fulfills the universal desire for love and freedom rather than fear, violence, and tyranny. The warning is that if a ruler does not pay attention to his job, a corrupt man may take over and manipulate people for his selfish interests.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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