Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Thief of Bagdad

The Thief of Bagdad is a 1924 silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks that’s full of action, adventure and exotic locales.  It’s loosely based on One Thousand and One Nights, also known as the Arabian Nights.  It’s about a thief, who falls in love with the Caliph of Bagdad’s daughter.  Using a stolen magic rope, the thief sneaks into the palace with thoughts of plunder on his mind but stops when he sees the princess for the first time.  The thief’s associate learns what happens and talks the thief into sneaking back into the palace to kidnap the princess he is in love with.  Three princes from far off lands arrive to win the princess’s hand in marriage.  The thief takes the opportunity to disguise himself as a prince in order to get into the palace and close to the princess to kidnap her.  But he has a change of heart and can’t go through with it when he finds out the princess was going to choose him as her husband.

What follows is an adventure to different lands, through treacherous volcanoes, undersea sets and a city in the clouds.  There’s a magic rope, a crystal ball, a flying carpet and horse, as well as a cloak of invisibility!  This reminded me so much of Disney’s Aladdin and the TV series Arabian Nights.  I only mention those two because they are the only things I’ve watched that have had anything to do with the stories they are based on, because obviously, this movie was made in 1924 waaaaaaaay before those two were even a twinkle in someone’s clever brain.

I loved every minute of The Thief of Bagdad.  I don’t watch enough silent films.  I've seen a handful and I really need to watch more.  This was the first silent film I've seen that starred Douglas Fairbanks and he is just so charismatic and light on his feet!  His stunts are wonderful!  Oh, and the sets and special effects are brilliant!  I grabbed some screenshots of some of my favorite scenes:

I probably shouldn't have started with this one because it was hard to really capture what is going on here.  This is an underwater scene, with kelp swaying back and forth as the thief swims to the bottom of the ocean.  I just loved the green lighting and movement of the kelp and the thief as he swims through them.

This is an underwater cavern where there are siren-like mermaids calling to the thief.  Look at this place!  Isn't it gorgeous?!  The green lighting and the glow of the crystal chandeliers hanging down is so pretty and everything here is so ethereal.

The castle in the clouds.  I should have gotten a better screenshot but you can just see the flying horse there.  This is where the magic box and the invisibility cloak were found.  Again, wonderfully lit and really serene and lovely.

The palace walls.  I love the glow coming from behind the wall and lighting up the guard on top.  And the design and texture on the wall is great!

This is my second favorite shot, after the underwater cavern.  I don’t know if that’s window or a screen but it’s beautiful!  Look at the lovely scroll work on it!  And the little twister to the left… you’ll have to watch to find out what that’s about!

I wanted to include a shot of just how epic this movie is with the crowd of people and the set design for the city of Bagdad.  I did a bit of research on Wikipedia and it said this movie cost two million dollars and was the most expensive film of the 1920s.  And to me, not a dime was wasted!

Another lovely shot.

So, I loved it.  Venessa watched some with me and really liked it.  And I think you will to.  It’s streaming on Netflix or you can watch here on  Give it a watch!  You won’t regret it.

P.S. Happy 8th Birthday, Venessa!


  1. This sounds wonderful! All magic and swashbuckling and exotic... I've been wanting to watch some silent movies ever since seeing The Artist. Just added this one to the Netflix queue!

  2. There's something mesmerizing about watching early films, isn't there? I always find the first bit is awkward, as I adjust into that other style, but then I'm in! Glad you enjoyed this segment of your OUAT-ness!

    1. Yes, they are mesmerizing and they do seem awkward at first but they really draw you in and you're hooked.