The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Thief of Bagdad</strong> (1940)

(On Cable TV, February 2018) I really wish I had a better reaction to report regarding the 1940 version of The Thief of Bagdad. It is, after all, a recognized classic of fantasy filmmaking, influential over the written genre and a landmark of sort for a generation of moviegoers. It is obviously a big-budget studio tentpole picture decades before such things became codified in the Hollywood DNA: Executed in colour at a time when such things were rare, it features a lot of special effects (including the first uses of chroma key/bluescreen technology), imaginative fantasy creations and a big wide epic scope. Unfortunately, I found the film aimed a bit too young, and some of the resulting tone to be juvenile. Also, and this is really a compliment to the film, much of The Thief of Bagdad feels very, very familiar—you can see its influence over a whole sub-genre of Arabian fantasies, from Disney’s Aladdin to the Prince of Persia series … and that does lend a tough atmosphere of déjà vu to the entire film. It proved duller than it should have been, and that’s really not what I was anticipating.

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