Arabian Nights: Volume 1, The Restless One

Arabian Nights: Volume 1, The Restless One ★★★★

Finally watched the first part, after seeing the second and third on back to back days at VIFF last October. As I suspected, seeing part one makes me appreciate part three more, as the films' structure becomes more clear: a shift between the real and the supernatural, tangled together in part one, gradually separating and diffusing as the saga progresses. The second film is still my favorite, the only one I really think can stand as a great work all on its own, it's telling though that my favorite section in the whole series is the first half of part three, the most fantastical chapter, while the most stubbornly realistic (the finches) drove me nuts in the theatre. I like those finches a lot more in retrospect (perhaps removed by several months from the tedium of watching them), as a mellow fade out to the whole series, and for their clever callback to one of the stories in part one (the rooster crowing and the finches singing, but for very different reasons). When (if?) they play theatrically here, I'm looking forward to watching the three of them all together in one day. Only then I think can I really get a handle on just what Gomes has done here.

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