Arabian Nights

  • Review Date: April 14, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2000

Common Sense Media says

A fresh, but long, take on the classic stories.
  • Review Date: April 14, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2000





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Aladdin and his mother are accomplished thieves, stealing even from each other. Viewers benefit from exposure to classic tales of ancient cultures. The story follows a plucky heroine.


The heroine faces death almost continually from an abusive, deranged spouse. A giant demon at the beginning, two fearsome dragons (whose barks, apparently, are worse than their bites), spooky clay warriors, and other ghoulish creatures of fantasy populate this video -- although it's made clear that these horrors exist only in fiction.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this isn't a typically sweet fairy tale; this movie has mature content, including abusive husbands, adultery and revenge. Scheherazade inspires creativity and resourcefulness as she spins her magical tales, and helps her husband overcome his mistrust. Children are likely to be turned off by the nearly three hour length of this story, and it's best reserved for older kids and teens who will appreciate the mature themes, and root for the brilliant heroine.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In ARABIAN NIGHTS, Schahriar (Dougray Scott), Sultan of Baghdad, suffers torment and paranoia after a failed assassination attempt masterminded by his late wife and her secret lover -- his own power-hungry brother. Scheherazade (Milli Avital), daughter of the Sultan's chief advisor, puts herself at grave risk to cure the monarch's madness. She willingly marries him, even though Schahriar has vowed to execute his second wife on their wedding night, to foil any further treachery. Scheherazade has a plan, however. She has mastered the art of storytelling, and every time unstable Schahriar threatens her life, she relates another tale of magic or irony that diverts him from carrying out the death sentence. Embedded within the stories (tales of Ali Baba, Aladdin and the lamp, Bacbac the hunchback, and others) are lessons that help Schahriar overcome his violent mistrust and triumph over his returning brother in battle.

Is it any good?


Just when you think you know a fairy tale inside and out ... wow! Along comes something like Arabian Nights, (from the creators of the Gulliver's Travels miniseries) which makes the world's oldest stories seem fresh and exciting. Arabian Nights succeeds, primarily, because of the framing story, the gripping drama of Scheherazade using her wits to save her life.

By focusing on Scheherazade's compelling plight, characters such as Ja-Far, Ali Baba, and Aladdin (depicted by actor Jason Scott Lee as Chinese, as some traditions have held) remain in their proper perspective as backdrops to the main narrative. Despite the sorcery, stunts, and wonders that abound in the tales, there's nothing childish about Scheherazade's dilemma and ordeal at the hands of Schahriar, which the filmmakers play as straight as any drama about mental illness.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Scheherazade uses words and stories to protect herself, instead of the violence advocated by her husband. What's the advantage of her approach? Where could you apply that in your daily life?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 18, 2000
DVD release date:July 18, 2000
Cast:Alan Bates, Jason Scott Lee, Mili Avital
Director:Steve Barron
Studio:Hallmark Entertainment
Run time:176 minutes
MPAA rating:NR
MPAA explanation:Not Rated

This review of Arabian Nights was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byMick007 February 6, 2009
Kid, 1 years old July 18, 2011

What are you People at Common Sense Media Thinking of?

The opening scene is a buxom woman extorting a man to make love to her while her husband is sleeping, otherwise she will wake her husband and have the other man killed. The man's response is to wrap his fingers around the woman's neck and violently strangle her. My confidence in Common Sense media is seriously challenged for them to rate this as appropriate for 9 year olds let alone give it 5 stars.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Adult Written byajemman February 15, 2009

this is a must see movie not only magical content

This story is very interesting as it tells how the advisers daughter used her knowledge and skill in telling stories that later became very amusing to the viewers.Its very exciting because it depicts the culture of the people in other places of the world......hope you'll find time to watch the movie.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Top Kids' Movies: An Essential Guide for Families