Filmsite Movie Review
The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
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The Story (continued)

The Start of the Quest by the Three Prince Suitors:

An alchemist or soothsayer (Tote Du Crow) consulted a spell book (with magically-turning pages) and prophesied: "Three suitors leave thy city gate, But four are numbered in her fate."

An inter-title set the stage for the fantastic odyssey of the princely suitors, who convened after one day's journey at a roadside inn for rest and recovery: "A day's journey from Bagdad - a caravansary in the desert - Thus far the three Princes have traveled in company." With the other two Princes, the Mongol Prince toasted to an agreement that they would all meet at the caravansary at the end of their quest:

Great Lords of Asia, good fortune to you, second only to mine own! Let us meet here at the end of the sixth moon.

Afterwards, he whispered to one of his military guards to send spies after his rivals: "Set spies to follow each."

The Beginning of the Thief's Quest:

An inter-title identified the locale: "A Defile in the Mountains of Dread Adventure - ." The Thief had embarked upon his own long, perilous and dangerous journey to unknown lands - first, the fabled Mountains of Dread. He met up with "The Hermit of the Defile," and told him about his quest:

Thief: I seek a magic chest that lies beyond this defile.
Hermit: Knowest thou, rash youth - devouring flames, foul monsters, shapes of death beset the path? A hundred years have I been here. Many have gone this way and none returned. But, if thy resolve be firm, I will help thee. If thou dost reach the Cavern of Enchanted Trees, touch with this talisman the midmost tree.

The Hermit-guru warned of various lethal dangers, difficulties, temptations, perils, and monsters that he would be facing, but offered help in the form of a talisman (a circular disc) to be utilized once he arrived at the Cavern of Enchanted Trees.

Back at the Palace in Bagdad ("In Bagdad - the pavilion of the Princess - "), the Princess was given one half of the engagement ring, and urged by the Holy Man to pray for the success of the Thief/Prince Ahmed:

"He too may return by the seventh moon - but his road is hard. You must pray for him."

The Six Moons - The Progression of the Journey and Quests for Treasure:

  1. The first moon.
    In the Valley of Fire, the Thief proceeded through rock caverns engulfed in flames.
  2. The second moon.
    "In search of rare treasure, the Persian Prince came to the bazaars of Shiraz. A crippled beggar knew a priceless secret. 'The magic carpet. They know not its value.'"
    The Prince's representative (Charles Stevens, credited as the Persian Prince's Awaker) - after hearing a tip from a crippled beggar, purchased a rare magical flying carpet in the marketplace. He presented it to the Prince: ("My Prince, here is the greatest rarity in the world, the flying carpet"). A Mongol spy viewed the transaction.
  3. The third moon.
    In the Valley of the Monsters, the Thief fought off a savage beast (a giant, smoke-belching, horn-backed dragon-lizard-crocodile) with his sword.
    In the Cavern of the Enchanted Trees, the Thief animated one of the trees with the talisman given to him by the Hermit. Then, he was warned and given further directions with a chart-map: "Thou hast shown great courage but thy way is yet hard. This is the chart to guide thee to the Old Man of the Midnight Sea." Suddenly, the Thief was attacked by a swooping Gigantic Bat (Paul Malvern), and he killed it with his sword.
  4. The fourth moon.
    "In search of rare treasure, the Prince of the Indies came to a forgotten idol near Kandahar." One of the Prince's servants climbed up the face of the gigantic statue (a diety in the shape of a 6-armed god), and pried out the gem that comprised the eye of the idol. The servant then fell to his death after successfully retrieving the magic crystal ball that could depict far-off events: "This is the greatest rarity in the world, the magic crystal." Again, a Mongol spy observed.
  5. The fifth moon.
    "The Old Man of the Midnight Sea," who was riding rough waves in a boat with the Thief, advised him on how to obtain a special key: "At the bottom of the sea is an iron-bound box. There thou wilt find a star-shaped key." The Thief dove deep into the Midnight Sea to retrieve the unusual key from a large treasure box under the water, while stabbing an attacking giant spider. He was able to resist the beckoning temptations and spells of three pretty but ghostly enchantresses or siren-mermaids by glancing down at his half of the Princess' right. Afterwards back on the boat, the white-haired Old Man instructed that after swimming to the depths of the sea that he now must continue his pilgrimage to the world above the clouds: "Now you must climb to the Abode of the Winged Horse. That star-shaped key will give you entrance here."
    At "The Abode of the Winged Horse," under a starry sky, the Thief climbed up and mounted a white, winged, flying horse known as Pegasus, and rode (or flew) to the Citadel of the Moon.
  6. The sixth moon.
    "In search of rare treasure, the Prince of the Mongols came to the Island of Wak." In the distant land, "a court magician knew a secret shrine." At the shrine, the magician opened a secret door or tunnel leading to an enchanted, golden "magical apple" - with the power to raise the dead. To test the apple's power, a fisherman at the island's dock was deliberately bitten in the shoulder by a deadly snake in a "snake staff" (a staff with an intricate cage containing a poisonous snake at the top). As the man died from the venomous bite, he turned dark, but was then restored back to life by the apple. The Mongol Prince was pleased by his rare treasure find: "Far rarer than India's crystal or Persia's carpet." He then ordered his counselor to return to Bagdad to carry through on his evil plan, to poison the Princess and then bring her back to life: "Thou wilt haste to Bagdad and, at the end of this sixth moon, give order that the Princess be poisoned."

Meanwhile, after riding to "The Citadel of the Moon," the Thief was again given directions by a ghostly dwarf: "The magic chest is wrapped in a cloak of invisibility." He ascended a steep flight of stairs into the Citadel, reached out and retrieved the "Cloak of Invisibility," and uncovered a small, shiny chest. The time period for the quest ended: "At the end of the sixth moon - ."

In the boudoir of the Princess back in Bagdad, the Mongol handmaiden-slave poured a liquid substance into a steaming hot pot, and fanned the coma-inducing smoke in the direction of the Princess. Her eyes rolled backward as she fainted, and she limply collapsed next to her bed. Then, the handmaiden slipped poison into the Princess' open mouth.

The Suitors Return to Bagdad - the Princess' Miraculous Healing:

As agreed upon, the three Prince suitors and the Thief (Prince Ahmed) met at the caravansary, one day's distance from Bagdad ("A day's journey from Bagdad - again the caravansary in the desert - "). Each of them showed off their magical rare treasure:

  • The Mongol Prince: a magical golden apple
  • The Persian Prince: a magical flying carpet
  • The Prince of the Indies: a magical crystal ball

Although they decided that they must quickly proceed back to Bagdad ("Let us haste to Bagdad"), the scheming Mongol Prince first suggested that they view the crystal ball to see if the Princess was awating their return: "O Prince of the Indies, discover this with the crystal. Does the Princess wait as she pledged?" The three gazed into the crystal ball, and saw that the Princess was on her death-bed. All but the Mongol Prince were aghast at the sight. The Persian Prince was encouraged to "spread the flying carpet" to speed them back to Bagdad. Predictably, the Mongol Prince offered to save the Princess' life with his magic apple: "With the magic apple we shall save her life." The three Prince suitors flew through the cloudy skies back to Bagdad.

The Princess was being treated by "the learned doctor, Zakariya of Kufa," but there was little hope that she would recover, and she was feared lost. But then, the magic carpet was spotted coming to the rescue. With great fanfare, the Mongol Prince strode forward with the golden apple to miraculously heal and cure the Princess.

Meanwhile, "out of the clouds," the Thief rode the flying horse Pegasus back to the abode of the Hermit-Guru with his treasure - the small treasure chest box that he had unwrapped from its Cloak of Invisibility. The Hermit explained how the magic box contained magical powder that could be sprinkled or thrown from the box to grant one's wishes. The Thief experimented and produced three wishes with the powder:

  • a horse
  • fine and regal silk raiments for himself
  • a large round piece of baked bread

The Thief mounted the horse and rode through the desert toward the Bagdad gates.

In Bagdad, all three of the suitors argued that their treasure was the rarest or greatest that had miraculously saved the Princess' life:

Princess (to her father): I was at the portals of death and now I glow with health. What miracle is this?
Mongol Prince: 'Twas I who brought you back. No other gift can match my golden apple.
Prince of Indies: He makes rash claim. 'Twas this rare crystal disclosed your desperate plight.
Persian Prince: My magic carpet brought us here. By the beard of the Prophet, it is rarest.
Prince of Indies: Her life belongs to me.
Persian Prince: To me!
Mongol Prince: To me!
Caliph: It is for me to decide which gift is rarest.

At that very moment, the Princess' Slave of the Sand Board spotted Prince Ahmed in the magical crystal ball, who was furiously riding onward toward Bagdad with his treasure box held aloft. The Princess was thrilled by the sight, and interrupted the suitors' argument to wisely point out that all three of the treasures had played some role in saving her life. It was a stall-tactic to convince her father to delay her decision about which husband to marry by having further deliberations:

Princess: A moment, O Princes! Who can say which gift is rarest? Without the crystal you could not have known. Without the carpet you could not have come. Without the apple you could not have cured me. Apple.. crystal.. carpet. No one of them is rarest. Each had been useless without the other two.
Caliph: Cease! There's wisdom here. 'Tis best that we deliberate.

The Mongol Prince's counselor whispered to his master that his secret plan to seize the city of Bagdad was in place, and that the Mongol Prince need not worry about a delay:

Counselor: Bide your time. You have twenty thousand troops within the walls.
Mongol Prince (to Caliph): Yourself hath said it. 'Tis best that we deliberate. (He slyly grinned and fanned himself)

The Attack on the City of Bagdad - The Mongol Prince's Threat to Marry the Princess:

"Through the night," the hordes of soldiers 20,000 strong that were positioned throughout Bagdad were signaled to begin their seizure of the city. The many soldiers emerged to wield long curved swords, don helmets, stand prepared with spears or halberds, and commence the sneak-attack and take-over. As they converged in the townsquare, city-folk exclaimed and feared: "The Mongols are taking the city!" The invaders surrounded the palace and scaled its steep walls. The palace was breeched and guards were quickly eliminated, and even the Princess and her handmaiden were forced to cower. The Mongol Prince observed with pleasure, as he was told: "Bagdad is yours!"

The Thief ("The courier of the dawn"), paused to refresh himself with water as he approached the city. He watched as Bagdad refugees streamed by as they fled from the city. He learned: "Bagdad is in the hands of the Mongols." He hurriedly reacted by mounting his horse and galloping toward the city.

Now placed on the throne after the overthrow of the Caliph, the Mongol Prince ominously approached the Princess with a chilling announcement - that he was planning their marriage immediately - as he caressed both her arms and dropped her veil: "We shall be wed at once. Prepare thyself. It is my command." The Mongol Prince's counselor ordered that the Caliph and his other rival suitors were to be punished as part of the marital celebration: "You shall add joy to the wedding festival by being boiled in oil." A large round vat of oil was being heated up nearby.

The Thief's Rescue of the City, the Caliph and the Princess:

When the Thief arrived at the closed, tall Bagdad city gates being guarded by Mongols, he twice cried out to demand entrance: "Open wide the gates of Bagdad! Open wide the gates of Bagdad!" When he was denied entrance, he reached for some magical dust from his silvery chest and threw it onto the ground multiple times. Puffs of smoke conjured up and summoned an immense army that materialized in thin air. The Mongol guard called out an alert about the magical armies that began to surround the walls:

Fly for your lives! A great magician comes. He summons armies from the earth itself!

The Mongol troops fled for their lives, as the Bagdad people emerged to help liberate their city. The Mongol Prince was warned by his counselor that they were being defeated:

Counselor: A magic army, a hundred thousand strong, surrounds the walls. Thy troops have fled.
Mongol Prince: Set my guard at the Palace gates!

At the same time, an order was delivered to "open wide the gates to our deliverer!" As the heroic Thief triumphantly led his troops to march through the open Bagdad gates (while hailed by the Bagdad residents) to completely liberate the city, the Mongol Prince was told that the city was completely surrounded and powerless, and that there was no exit: "Great Khan, every way of escape is blocked." He calmly ordered his lead guard to decapitate him with a sword, but was interrupted by the Princess' Mongol handmaiden, who urged him to kidnap the Princess and escape on the flying carpet: "The flying carpet - and the Princess."

The Mongol Prince located the Princess and ordered one of his last remaining guards: "Quick - the magic carpet." One of the Princess' two loyal handmaidens was seized, while the second handmaiden joined the surging crowd on the street to warn the Thief about the Princess' dire situation. Meanwhile, the Princess was captured by Mongol guards, wrapped up, and carried over to the magic carpet.

Outside the Palace gates, the Thief covered himself with the Invisibility Cloak to sneak past the last remaining Mongol palace guards, in order to enter the Palace and rescue the Princess. He toppled a few Mongol guards and the Mongol Prince, and then saved the Princess just as his troops emerged behind him to provide backup support. The Caliph, and the two rival suitor Princes were overjoyed that they were saved and that the Princess had been kept from harm. The Princess awoke and gratefully hugged the Thief, as the Caliph officially offered his daughter's hand in marriage:

I give thee gladly to this great Prince.

The Thief was now redeemed and recognized as the great Prince Ahmed, and he was congratulated by the other two rival Princes. The evil Mongol Prince and his counselor were dangled over the pot of boiling oil.

The Princess secretly suggested to Prince Ahmed that they escape on the flying carpet. They covered themselves with the Cloak and raced over to the magical flying carpet, where they positioned themselves before they took off and flew over the city. They were lauded by the grateful crowds assembled in the city's streets that watched their departure. They kissed and happily embraced.

Closing Framing Device:

The film was bookended by the repeat appearance of the Holy Man who again pointed to an inscription in the starry night sky, as the couple's magic carpet flew in front of the moon:

HAPPINESS MUST BE EARNED


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