The Thief Of Bag­dad

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Pure ge­nie- us

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

1940 | U | Blu- ray Di­rec­tors: Var­i­ous Cast: Sabu, June Duprez, Con­rad Veidt

Billed as “The

won­der pic­ture of all time!”, The Thief Of Bag­dad isn’t short on am­bi­tion.

This re­make of 1924’ s Dou­glas Fair­banks swash­buck­ler was mounted by Bri­tish movie im­pres­sario Alexander Korda and burned through the tal­ents of no less than six di­rec­tors, in­clud­ing the bril­liant Michael Pow­ell ( The Red Shoes).

So it’s no sur­prise that it dreams in Technicolor, drunk on the pos­si­bil­i­ties of cinema, still such a young art­form in 1940. It con­jures a sto­ry­book world where Sul­tans’ palaces seem carved from nougat and an­cient mythol­ogy melts into Art Deco splen­dor. There are minarets and ele­phants, fly­ing

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

2014 | 15 | Blu- ray/ DVD Direc­tor: John Erick Dow­dle Cast: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feld­man, Ed­win Hodge, François Civil, Mar­ion Lam­bert

A Bri­tish

aca­demic leads a scary jaunt into the Cat­a­combs be­neath Paris on a hunt for real- life al­chemist Ni­cholas Flamel and his im­mor­tal­ity- grant­ing philoso­pher’s stone. Ob­sessed ar­chae­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor Scar­lett Mar­lowe ( Perdita Weeks) may have el­e­ments of In­di­ana Jones in her DNA, but As Above, So Be­low is a very dif­fer­ent kind of movie, a creepy, low- bud­get hor­ror that suc­ceeds in un­set­tling with­out ever quite man­ag­ing to give you the gen­uine willies.

The writ­ing/ di­rect­ing/ pro­duc­ing Dow­dle broth­ers ( Quar­an­tine, Devil) shot in the Cat­a­combs for real, and they mine the dark and claus­tro­pho­bia of Paris’s labyrinthine car­pets and laugh­ing ge­nies, mon­strous spi­ders in moun­tain tem­ples and me­chan­i­cal horses soar­ing over a Basra that only Scheherazade knew.

It’s an ab­so­lute cake of a film. And while the love story may be sugar- rich, Con­rad Veidt’s icy sor­cerer makes for a com­pelling an­tag­o­nist, more thwarted ro­man­tic lead than gener­i­cally hiss­able vil­lain. Plucky boy dare­devil Sabu has enough charisma to ig­nite the screen and the ef­fects still crackle with a pi­o­neer­ing wow.

Be warned, though: the re­frain of Sabu’s sea shanty (“I want to be a ban­dit/ Can’t you un­der­stand it?”) will stalk your head for days.

Trailer, im­age gallery, poster gallery. Nick Setch­field Vivien Leigh was the orig­i­nal choice to play the princess, but then won the role of Scar­lett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind. sub­ter­ranean tun­nel sys­tem for all it’s worth. They also give the found- footage sub­genre a new lease of life, mak­ing the char­ac­ters’ in­di­vid­ual POVs and per­sonal cam­era lights key to the sto­ry­telling.

Un­for­tu­nately the scares – a mix of psy­cho­log­i­cal hor­ror, an­cient myths re­heated, and weird fig­ures lurk­ing in the cor­ner of your eye – have lit­tle real struc­ture, and by the fi­nal act the movie feels more like a fair­ground haunted house ride than a story, throw­ing shocks at you with lit­tle rhyme or rea­son.

The Blu- ray re­lease ( rated) comes with only “In­side As Above, So Be­low”, a sub- four- minute fea­turette that gives the briefest snap­shot of the movie’s ori­gins. The DVD has zero. Richard Ed­wards In the Harry Pot­ter books, Ni­cholas Flamel is an old friend of Al­bus Dum­ble­dore; he plays a big role in The Philoso­pher’s Stone.

“If only we had the abil­ity to stand up!”

The art gallery had seen bet­ter days.

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