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The Thief of Bagdad (The Criterion Collection) [DVD]
The Criterion Collection
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Legendary producer Alexander Korda's marvel The Thief of Bagdad, inspired by The Arabian Nights, is one of the most spectacular fantasy films ever made, an eye-popping effects pioneer brimming with imagination and technical wizardry. When Prince Ahmad (John Justin) is blinded and cast out of Bagdad by the nefarious Jaffar (Conrad Veidt), he joins forces with the scrappy thief Abu (the incomparable Sabu, in his definitive role) to win back his royal place, as well as the heart of a beautiful princess (June Duprez). With its luscious Technicolor, vivid sets, and unprecedented visual wonders, The Thief of Bagdad has charmed viewers of all ages for decades.
* - SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET FEATURES:
* - New digital transfer, from restored film elements
* - Two audio commentaries: one featuring renowned directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, and one with film and music historian Bruce Eder
* - Visual Effects,, a documentary about the technical achievements of The Thief of Bagdad
* - The Lion Has Wings (1940), Alexander Korda's propaganda film for the English war effort, created when The Thief of Bagdad went into production hiatus
* - Excerpts from codirector Michael Powell's audio dictations for his autobiography
* - Excerpts from a 1976 radio interview with composer Miklos Rózsa
* - Stills gallery featuring rare images of the film's production and photos shot in Dufaycolor Optional music and effects track
* - Theatrical trailer
* - PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by film scholars Andrew Moor and Ian Christie
Often hailed as the greatest fantasy film ever made, The Thief of Bagdad (1940) was producer Alexander Korda's crowning achievement. Deservedly winning Academy Awards for art direction, color cinematography, and special effects, this Arabian Nights adventure appeals to all ages with its fantastical tale of Abu (Sabu), the little thief who befriends the prince of Bagdad (John Justin) and foils the nefarious plans of the evil grand vizier (Conrad Veidt), who seizes control of Bagdad and covets the princess of Basra (Joan Duprez). From its gorgeous, epic-scale sets to flying horses, magic carpets, and, best of all, Rex Ingram's towering jinni of the bottle, this Thief has all the magic of the tales that inspired it, and vibrant Technicolor brings it all to life in dazzling style. Six esteemed directors worked on this infamously troubled production, but the final result exceeded all expectations, becoming an instant classic that endures to this day. --Jeff Shannon
- Aspect Ratio : 1.33:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : NR (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 0.7 x 7.5 x 5.4 inches; 2.72 Ounces
- Item model number : CC1754DDVD
- Director : Alexander Korda, Michael Powell
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Full Screen, Restored
- Run time : 1 hour and 46 minutes
- Release date : May 27, 2008
- Actors : Sabu, Conrad Veidt, Rex Ingram, Miki Hood, Allan Jeayes
- Subtitles: : English
- Language : Unqualified
- Studio : Criterion Collection
- ASIN : B00152VXUS
- Country of Origin : USA
- Number of discs : 2
- Best Sellers Rank: #24,083 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
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The book arrived earlier than expected, which pleased me very much thanks to the sender who was probably happy to get rid of it. Everything was perfect, though the book, which together with its author, Prof. Dr. Dietrich Wildung, former Director of the Berlin Egyptian Museum are both together not worth more than a dime as Dietrich Wildung isn't the expert who is supposed to be, but a crook, a charlatan, a very malicious and despicable man unworthy of trust. It is not for no reason that the Honorable George Xanthos, Judge of the Superior Court of the state of California, in and for the County of Los Angeles has stigmatized him an "Intellectually dishonest man" in 1995 (Please see Preface in "The Scandal of the Century, The Mansoor Amarna Exposé" by Christine Mansoor, the book being sold at Amazon, I have read Wildung's book, and since I speak, read and write French as good or a little better than English, I also read the book of "Le buste de Nefertiti, une imposture de l'egyptologie" by Mr. Henri Stierlin to whom Dietrich Wildung, in September 9, 1983 had sent his "Historical stylistic Analysis of the Nefertiti bust" worded on the letterhead of: "The Direktion der Staatilichen Sammlung Agyptischer Kunst, Munchen" describing the book as follows (translated from the French): 1} the bust is an ice-cold perfection; 2} a lifeless work; 3} not one shred of amarna style is perceptible in it and 4) a fabricated work of art; to sum it up literally in few words: "a synthesis of diverse elements with no organic elements", or in pure German language as reported by Mr. Stierlin: a "aus der Retorte". Wildung is a despicable liar, a charlatan, crook, malicious and despicable individual who has no respect for his colleagues by using them as a tool to commit his crimes on his behalf while the coward hides behind them, and who desecrated the memory of a deceased honorable French Egyptologist: "canon" Dr. Etienne Drioton, former Director General of the Antiquities Service of Egypt, Professor at the "College de France, the Sorbonne, and Researcher at the "CNRS" (Centre National de la Recherche Sceintifique), desecrated the memory of my parents, Isabel and M. A. Mansoor , and as bad if not worse than everything else, has insulted His Holiness the Late Pope St. John Paul II by ignoring a request His Holiness had made about precious and rare objects received as gifts for the Vatican Egyptian Museum from the Mansoor family. He also insulted the members of the Mansoor family as being "greedy in the lowest meaning of the word" that he wrote in French, which mean we are thieves; for this reason I called him a crook and a liar. He caused the Vatican and Louvre Museums a considerable loss of precious and rare works of art by influencing the curators of their Egyptian Departments of art to withdraw from public exhibit the objects gifted to these Museums. Please visit: http://www.mansooramarnacollection.com/
In page 119 of his book of "Egypt, from Prehistory to the Romans", Wildung had a picture of the Temple of Amenhotep IV illustrated, picture he stole from pages 646-47 of the "National Geographic Magazine" of November 1970 and did not give credit to "Leslie Greener" the artist, whose name the thief erased from the picture, nor did he give credit to the magazine, therefore committing "plagiarism". In page 124 of same book the absent-minded idiot called Nefertiti "Nefertari" who is a wife of Rameses II; while in page 21 of his book of "The Many Faces of Nefertiti", he explains that "the smoothly formed bottom, repeat bottom of the side (of the bust) serves as a surface on which the bust can stand". What else could the bst stand if it's not on its base? Stand on the air? Can there ever be a more stupid scholar than him in the entire world! He also stole 4 photographs from the 1975 exhibit catalog of the "Mansoor Amarna Collection" at San Francisco State University, had them illustrated in his article of "Fasche Pharaonene" article published in a pinkish color paper to please women, and had the article undersigned by a respectable friend of his, a Geologist teaching at the University of Munich so that no one suspects the coward is the author of the article for fear of the Mansoors suing him, while the writer of the Exhibit Catalog, Prof. Andreina Leanza Becker-Colonna has a copyright on all exhibit catalogs of the Mansoor collection. He claimed the Mansoor art objects are fakes while Prof. Leon Silver of CALTECH (California Institute of Technology) proved their authenticity "beyond any and all reasonable doubts' thanks to the enrichment of Barium and copper on their surfaces, that has been approved by the World renowned Sir Harold J. Penderleith, former Director of the British Museum Research laboratory, then Director Emeritus of ICCROM of UNESCO. Dietrich Wildung has not been retired by the Berlin Museum but excused and is now employed as a Professor of Egyptology at the "Frei Universitat, Berlin". As a supposed "International leading Egyptologist" he has not been requested to submit a write-up about the Nefertiti bust for the exhibit catalog of "In the Light of Amarna, 100 years of the Nefertiti discovery". This is enough for the time being until he ends up in jail.
As the film begins, we're introduced to a blind beggar named Ahmad (Justin), and his very intelligent dog, both of whom are more than they appear. Ahmad soon relates a tale, and we learn of a man who was once king, and how he became friends with a clever young thief from the streets named Abu, played by Sabu (see what they did? The just removed the `S' from Sabu to get Abu...pretty smart, huh?). We also learn of the king's downfall at the hands of Jaffar (Veidt), a greedy, dastardly fellow with a penchant for magics and trickery. Seems Jaffar, once Grand Vizer (that means a highly regarded executive type who councils the king in many different matters) to the king, covet too much, and through some ruse, he managed to usurp (hence his new moniker of `The Usurper') the throne, and now desires the lovely princess, played by Duprez, daughter to a Sultan (played by Miles Malleson, one of the writers) of the nearby kingdom of Basra, who, incidentally, is smitten with the once king, and he her (their first encounter occurs in the `forbidden garden'...take the meaning whichever way you like)...the pair (the once king and Abu) embark on a number of dangerous adventures to regain king's throne, free the princess from the Jaffar's clutches, and return things to the natural order. Seems like a simple enough task, right? Well, keep in mind Jaffar is not only a scoundrel, but a magical scoundrel, and he has no intention of losing what he has worked so little for...actually, his plans appeared pretty complex, almost to the point of being convoluted, so it was obvious he had been planning it for awhile.
The Thief of Bagdad (which won three academy awards, one for color cinematography, a second for color interior design, and a third for special effects) is one of those films that I wish I could have been their to see when it originally opened in the theaters, as I can't help but feel it must have been quite the awesome cinematic experience similar to the first time I saw Clash of the Titans (1981) in the theater (I was eleven at the time). In terms of fantasy films, very few can match the level of magic and whimsy of The Thief of Bagdad, although many have tried. The real key to the film's success, in my opinion, is that it is so well written, basically a fairytale come to life. Certainly the special effects helped propel this film, but without the core characterizations and well-crafted dialogue, the film wouldn't have been as popular. With regards to the acting, I thought all of the performers did very well, but given the strength of the material, it wouldn't have been too difficult for an experienced performer to come in and do as well, with a few exceptions, particularly in the characters of Abu, the genie (Ingram), and Jaffar. Sabu seemed a bit rough around the edges, but this was displaced by his infectious enthusiasm, which came through in nearly every scene he appeared. The genie, played by Harrison, is wonderful and comes through larger than life, exactly how you'd expect a genie to be (which makes me think Harrison's performance was what many other, later genie depictions were probably based on). Last, but not least, is the character of Jaffar, played perfectly by Veidt. This definitely was a case of finding the right actor for the part as Veidt creates what's probably one of the strongest characterizations of an on screen villain I seen in a long time. The only other one I can think of is Darth Vader, but the difference is in Vader's character, much of his menace comes through in the costume and effects, where with Jaffar, Veidt had to create his character from within, and does so almost too well (he even scared me a few times). As far as the special effects, some seem dated (keep in mind the film was made some 60+ years ago, and achieving effects on the level seen here was incredibly difficult) and obvious (the blue fringing of the Technicolor mattes often shows through), while others hold up quite well (the giant spider looked amazing and its' movements really made it appear to be alive). The sets, usually backed by lush and detailed matte paintings, are beautiful and befitting of the story, and the music, by Miklós Rózsa, is considered to be some of the finest ever made for a film. Generally I'm not big on characters within film breaking out in song, but it works here because it ties so well into the events on the screen.
The full screen (original format) looks really good, despite a few minor flaws, and the audio comes through very well. I was surprised at a lack of features (there's a good looking trailer) for this particular film, given its' significance in terms of being one of the best fantasy films ever released, but better to have it than not at all I suppose.
Some parts were cut from this version. I saw this film many times as a kid.
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Thank you. Buy this dvd you will NOT. be disappointed.