The Arabian Nights Trilogy

 

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Miguel Gomes’ 6+ hour, The Arabian Nights Trilogy can easily be declared as the most difficult film to approach of 2015. While being split up into three separate volumes, the trilogy should be regarded as one cohesive work. Each volume has a number of tales within it that each resemble a particular attribute in the Portuguese cultural. The one positive thing I have to say about the whole trilogy is how sporadically impressive or even engrossing it gets. The first volume, a complete slog, for the most part, has this one scene of an exploding whale carcass that is completely out of this world. There are moments throughout the trilogy that are on par with this, whether it be in terms of the sheer insanity of what is going on or some mind-bogglingly stellar shot composition. Being on the subject of the trilogy’s cinematography, the long takes through the film never feel to have that much of a purpose to them as they run on for extensive periods of time. These long takes that last for minutes on end do not get something across to the audience that they did not get across during the first thirty seconds. They lack the purpose that the best auteurs of the long take know how to do so well and pack a punch into it as the length increases, note the final scene of Tsai Ming-liang’s 2013 masterwork, Stray Dogs. Many have praised the way that Gomes sets out to “troll” his audience, particularly in the third volume, but I have a hard time praising this. While I completely understand that Gomes is not trying to make a palatable experience or even cater down to his foreign audience, I got the sense that what he was doing was for purely frustrating his audience, which does not help him or the people viewing his film.

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