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Monday, March 17, 2014

The Thief of Bagdad (1940) d. Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell & Tim Whelan

My man Jaffar, the evil grand vizier.

Movie Review
The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
d. Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell & Tim Whelan
Criterion Collection #431

  Roger Ebert calls The Thief of  Bagdad equal to The Wizard of Oz, but obviously The Thief of Bagdad is the lesser seen title, but if you actually sit down and watch The Thief of Bagdad the Wizard of Oz comparison is apparent.  Aside from generally being an outstanding effects driven fantasy suitable for viewing by all ages, The Thief of Bagdad is mostly notable for the effects themselves.  If you watch the accompanying "extra" segment about the effect you can hear how influential The Thief of Bagdad in inspiring a generation of Hollywood special effects gurus.  The Theif of Bagdad was actually made in Los Angeles, so even though the production team was largely English, it is technically a "Hollywood" film.

  Although the The Thief of Bagdad is obviously directly inspired by elements of 1001 Arabian Nights the story is an original story that is simply set in the same time period.  The Thief of Bagdad is another example of the theme of special effects which is emphasized in the Criterion Collection.  The interest in special effects film making is an explanation for why the collection contains Michael Bay's Armageddon.

 From that perspective, The Thief of Bagdad really is impressive- although it was released in 1940 it stands up more than a half century later, alongside other enduring Hollywood classics from the early technicolor era.

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