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902 Ratings

Arabian Nights: Volume 2, the Desolate One

As Mil e Uma Noites: Volume 2, O Desolado

Directed by Miguel Gomes
Portugal, France, 2015
  • Portuguese
  • English


An elderly criminal becomes a folk hero as he successfully evades hordes of police; a stern judge oversees a case involving 13 stolen cows, mail-order brides, a genie and a machete-wielding human lie detector; a Maltese poodle shuffles between households in a recession-stricken estate.

Our take

The second installment of Miguel Gomes’ magnum opus is arguably the most melancholic of the three. While the whole trilogy is a unique blend of fine irony, dark humor, blissful fantasy, and fervent commitment to the present, this middle section confirms Arabian Nights as the ultimate political film.

Arabian Nights: Volume 2, the Desolate One Directed by Miguel Gomes
This is some achievement: to have made each story completely different from the next and from the story that precedes it… Arabian Nights seems to say that the effects of policy – legislation meant to liberate Portugal of its debts – can look 1,001 different ways depending on the lens, depending through whose life we see economic reforms refracted. The triptych’s wending unpredictability appears to contest the kinds of forecasts used to justify punitive austerity measures.
April 01, 2016
The Desolate One" hangs together the best of the three chapters of “Arabian Nights” and feels the most coherent, the most touching, and perhaps the most accurate a representation of what it feels like to live in Portugal during the financial crisis. Gomes invites us in to his smoky, shabby yet hopelessly gorgeous home and waits for the power to go out, the water to run black and the landlord to hammer an eviction notice on the door.
December 11, 2015
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With its wildly associative structure, leapfrogging genres and modes of narration, the film functions, as Gomes says, as a kind of encyclopedia, a seemingly inexhaustible portrait of a world in which surrealist fantasy and nuts-and-bolts neorealism are inextricable fellow travelers, where wizards, phantom dogs, teleporting bandits, exploding whales, and subcultures of working-class bird-trappers coexist.
December 09, 2015
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