Archive for March 19th, 2014



© 2014 by James Clark

Jep, the erratic protagonist and man-about-town of Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty (2013), could be described as a man who has experienced a thousand and one Arabian nights. His embrace of “vibrations” does, very markedly, include a rich sense of irony and a strong sense of self-criticism. Not for him an educated playboy’s satisfaction in soaking up the fruits of a liberal historical momentum. During a lull in one of his parties, he sits with his rather glum and confused housekeeper and pronounces, “This wildlife I’m surrounded by…they’re my people…” [I’m stuck with them; and they keep me away from serious literature].

    Nuredin, one of the two main protagonists of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Arabian Nights (1974) [actually, The Flower of One Thousand and One Nights], is an impoverished illiterate boy who harbors no literary ambitions and gives us in action his definition of “wildlife,” namely, being favored by women, like the slave, Zumurrud, for his “smooth cheeks” and “beauty.” More specifically and compellingly, he gives us a rendition of a bird having won over a mate by seemingly the most reflexive telepathy, only to have her stolen from him by more alert and shrewd members of an aviary strung across the whole expanse of this “Arabia.” His go-getter of a lady-love chooses him for her master in a raucous outdoor marketplace. That the transaction comprises her promptly producing the money for his purchase of her and their rental of “a house [nest] in the district” introduces the arresting stylization of such no-fuss-no-muss breeding exigency into a pulse of human interaction that very definitely poses the issue of one’s having much more to do than breed. (more…)

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