Arabian Nights

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Arabian Nights Movie Poster Image
A fresh, but long, take on the classic stories.
  • NR
  • 2000
  • 176 minutes

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 viewe... Continue reading
Adult Written byMick007 February 6, 2009
Teen, 13 years old Written byXreviewer April 9, 2008

Better than you might think

Before you watch this movie, you might want to read the book that it's based on: The Shadow Spinner. When I first saw it, I was a little let down on how l... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byblondeblubeachgirl December 6, 2012


AWEFUL!!!! starts with a belly dancer in satans hand....very violent and 16 and i thought it was horrible!!!!!! way to many sexual references and sc... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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