See the moving picture


The Fairy Tale Spectacle (I)

Ali Baba et les quarante voleurs (Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves)

Ferdinand Zecca, Pathé-Frères, France, 1905

Each of the film’s seven stencil-colored tableaux is introduced by an intertitle. Secretly looking on as the richly garbed thieves open their treasure grotto with the magic words “Sésame, ouvre-toi” (“Open, sesame”) (1), Ali Baba waits until they’ve departed before entering the cave and helping himself to a share of its riches (2). Returning home, he relates his adventures to his brother Cassim (3), who immediately sets out for the secret cave. Once inside, however, he’s interrupted by the return of the thieves; he hides while the bandits take time out to enjoy a chorus of dancing girls (already the second such interlude in the film) (4) but is discovered and (by means of stop-action substitution) beheaded. Having learned of Ali Baba’s discovery (presumably from the hapless Cassim), the thieves plot to enter the hero’s brand-new palatial home by hiding in jars supposedly filled with oil (5). Fortunately, a suspicious servant girl foils the scheme by pouring hot oil into the jars (6,7) and (after we’re treated to yet another chorus of dancing girls) stabs the bandit chieftain, who’s pretending to be an oil merchant (8). In the finale, Ali Baba’s household celebrates its deliverance in a grand “apotheosis” (9).

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