Arabian Nights

 
A fresh, but long, take on the classic stories.
  • Review Date: April 14, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 176 minutes

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.

Violence

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.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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
Genre:Action/Adventure
Run time:176 minutes
MPAA rating:NR
MPAA explanation:Not Rated

This review of Arabian Nights was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

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

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 1 years old July 18, 2011
age 18+
 

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 byPRMan April 9, 2008
age 0+
 

A great take on the Arabian Nights stories

From a parents' perspective, there is no way I would let my kids watch this until at least 11 or 12. I came here and signed up from Netflix because of all the negative reviews on this parental score over there. It's way too low. Good movie, though, especially if you aren't that familiar with the real stories of Scherezade, Sinbad and Aladdin.
Teen, 15 years old Written byblondeblubeachgirl December 6, 2012
age 18+
 

WHAT IS IT REALLY???

AWEFUL!!!! starts with a belly dancer in satans hand....very violent and sexual...im 16 and i thought it was horrible!!!!!! way to many sexual references and scenes.....unnessescary violence iits AWEFUL!!!!!!!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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