‘Fidelity is splendid, but no more than infidelity’

Il fiore delle mille e una notte (Pasolini 1974)

An introduction to “Arabian Nights”

ll fiore delle mille e una notte, also known as “The Flower of the One Thousand and One Nights” or “Arabian Nights” in the US, is the third and final film of Pasolini’s “Trilogy of Life” which includes ” The Decameron(1971)” and ” The Canterbury Tales(1972)”. The film adapts on the erotic tales and sexuality from the Arabic story collection One thousand and One Nights.

The plot of the film follows a young slave,Zumurrud(Ines Pellegrinii) ,who is sold for sexual purposes, choosing Nur Ed Din(Franco Merli), as her master. Zumurrud was then kidnapped twice from Nur Ed Din, however she escapes and disguises as a man in a far-away kingdom. Due to her disguise she then became the King of the kingdom and started to do things to try and reunite with Nur Ed Din. Nur Ed Din on the other hand also tries to search for Zumurrud. The both later finally reunites and drop their statuses as master and slave and embrace each other as equals.

The film won the Grand Prix Spécial Prize at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival and is highly acclaimed for its take on sexuality and homosexuality.


There are certain things that particularly caught my eyes. Although the film emphasizes alot on joyful sex to explain it’s narratives, it can hardly be considered pornographic,as the lovers embrace each other naturally, even wholesomely.

Another interesting thing about the film is the way majority of the film is shot. Pasolini often operated the camera himself and travelled with little crew around countries such as Yemen and Nepal. As such the film normally looks grainy, shaky as it is hand-held, but yet natural at the same time, especially during scenes of eroticism. Certain parts also seem as though they were taken from documentaries which fitted very nicely in the film.

One of the most memorable scenes of the film is when Zumurrud relishes her disguise as a King and finally reunites with Nur Ed Din in her kingly chamber, with her majestic decors around them. However as they embrace,stripped of all their clothes, in their purest form, the decors were no longer there, as there it mattered no more, that they are finally together and no longer as master and slave, but as equals.Creative Response

My creative response is inspired by how males are portrayed as weak,mild beings that are easily influenced and are unfaithful naturally, in particular Nur Ed Din.


Callus looked upon the rough road that lay ahead of him. An empty road. A void of life. Yet he looked on upon the road, as though searching for someone.

“Ellie!” he shouted, covering his mouth with his palms.


He remained at his position for awhile, before continuing on his journey in search of his love. Suddenly, from the corner road, behind an abandoned shack came sounds of girls giggling.
Callus paused in his footsteps. Three girls wearing nothing but their undergarments emerged from behind the shack, each covering their mouths as they continue to giggle. They seem to take no notice of Callus who was standing in front of them, looking at their scantily-clad bodies. Finally, one of them broke away from the group and reached out for Callus’s hand. She took hold of his soft,warm hands with her own, touching every bit of his hands as though it was a thing of wonder, then she steered him towards the group, who were all looking at him with amusement. He cared nothing of it, his mind was still in search of his love, yet his body moved in coordination with the girls, as though it was meant to be.

Callus opened his eyes, the first lights of dawn were shining upon his face through a hole in a poorly built shack. He stood up and walked towards the door, opened it, bathing the naked bodies of three girls who were fast asleep with sunlight. He stood at the door for a moment, as though trying to recall something and then he moved on.

“Ellie!” he shouted as he once again embarked on his journey in search of his love.


Michael James Lundell. 2012. Adaptation Essay Prize Winner Pasolini’s Splendid Infidelities: Un/Faithful Film Versions of The Thousand and One Nights [online] Available at:http://adaptation.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/09/13/adaptation.aps022.full

Colin MacCabe, 2012. Arabian Nights: Brave Old World. [online] Available at:http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/2552-arabian-nights-brave-old-world

James Kendrick, 2012. Arabian Nights [online] Available at: http://www.qnetwork.com/index.php?page=review&id=2847


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