New Arabian Nights
Middle Eastern folktale collection One Thousand and One Nights has been greatly treasured by Western storytellers who are fascinated by the fantastic world within. The exoticism conveyed in Western film adaptations greatly appealed to Cantonese opera and film writer Ma Si-tsang, who adapted The Thief of Bagdad (1924) into Cantonese opera The Prince of Thieves, set in an ancient empire influenced by both East and West. In 1958, director Luk Bong adapted the play into a film, turning the thief of the original film into a Robin Hood-esque hero who poses as a prince to compete for the princess' hand in marriage. Packed with a thrilling treasure hunt and a damsel-in-distress rescue as well as eye-catching special effects, Prince of Thieves is 100% a romantic swashbuckler.
However, Prince of Thieves isn't the first Hong Kong film to tackle the tales. Showing off his love of visual aesthetics as a painter, director Dan Duyu combines elegance, exoticism and oddity into a grand big-budget package with New Arabian Nights. Dan's vision is definitely not bound by the source material, but his magical and music-filled version of the orient turns out to be not so different from how Western storytellers would imagine it.
|10/2/2019 (Sun)||12:00nn||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive|
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