Arabian Nights Volume 1: The Restless One

Arabian Nights Volume 1: The Restless One
  • 2015
  • Portugal
  • 2h 5min
  • Directed by: Miguel Gomes
  • Cast: Crista Alfaiate, Miguel Gomes, Maria Rueff
  • Language: Portuguese
  • UK release: 22 April 2016

The first of a sprawling, wildly inventive trilogy in which director Gomes confronts the age of austerity; director Gomes plays himself as a bumbling, Charlie Kaufman-esque figure overwhelmed by the task he has set himself, until he allows his storytelling imagination to soar.

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Our second Mini Season of World Cinema is this extraordinary three feature tryptich from Portuguese director Miguel Gomes starting off with Arabian Nights Volume 1 - The Restless One.

Following in the tradition of The Arabian Nights, Portuguese auteur Miguel Gomes (Tabu) uses his Scheherazade (Alfaiate) as both a character and a framing device.

Usually we would find her telling stories night after night so as to postpone her own execution at the hands of her husband the king. But in this first instalment of Gomes’s three-volume magnum opus, we instead meet the storyteller aboard a glitzy speedboat, narrating topical parables about venal bankers and politicians who are destroying the cultural and social fabric of Portugal and beyond. Thus we see a gaggle of fat-cat economists whose ruthless doctrines are driven by sexual impotence, a plague of wasps accompanying the mass sackings of shipyard workers, and Gomes himself deserting his film crew because of government-imposed funding cuts.

This is an ambitious, visually intoxicating work with a tough moral spine.

"Think of Arabian Nights as a cinematic box set: three boundary-bursting, exuberant, empathetic films from Miguel Gomes, which build up into a portrait of present-day Portugal." ★★★★ The times

"A glowing lovesong to Portugal performed by a man who has mastered a range of exotic instruments." ★★★★★ Little White Lies

Director: Miguel Gomes.

Starring: Crista Alfaiate.

Portugal/France/Germany/Switzerland 2015.

Run time:125 mins.

Portuguese with English subtitles.

Arabian Nights Volume 2 - The Desolate One: Wednesday 17th August 7:30pm

Arabian Nights Volume 3 - The Enchanted One: Wednesday 14th September 7:30pm

***"This project is supported by Film Hub North West Central, proud to be a member of the BFI Film Audience Network" ★★★

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Reviews & features

Arabian Nights

18 Apr 20164 stars

Giddy, shape-shifting and eccentric three-parter from Portuguese director Miguel Gomes

How does any European filmmaker confront the age of austerity? In righteous fury, bitter despair, or weary melancholy? Tabu director Miguel Gomes tries to address the impact on Portugal with a little of everything in his sprawling, wildly inventive…

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