The three-part film Arabian nights is a tough sell. Director Miguel Gomes uses the same structure as One thousand and one nights, the collection of tales from the Middle East. In it Scheherazade avoids death by telling the king, her husband, a story each night. But Gomes uses Scheherazade to speak about Portugal’s economic problems, and the enormous burden on the population. Arabian nights volume 1: The restless one is partly scripted. But in the first segment we see documentary images of Portuguese workers, while we hear men in voice off talking about how the government’s austerity measures have worsened working conditions, and how hard it is to keep a job or to find one. Then we get tales on various aspects of life in Portugal. One of the stories has a group of business men spraying their penises with a magic potion in order to get permanent erections. Of the three films, I found volume 1 the least satisfying. Since there is a lot of dialogue with lots of subtitles, people who speak Portuguese will be probably enjoy it more than I did. Still, this is an interesting portrait of life in Portugal.
Arabian nights volume 1: The restless one
Inspired by One thousand and one nights
In Portuguese, English, German and Mandarin with English subtitles