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The Dream of Shahrazad

2014
Distributed by Grasshopper Films, 12 East 32nd St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016
Produced by Shameela Seedat; Neil Brandt; Wael Omar; François Verster
Directed by François Verster
DVD , color, 107 min., In Arabic and Turkish with English subtitles
High School - General Adult
Arab Spring, Revolutions, Egypt, History, Turkey, Lebanon, Middle East, Sociology, Politics, Government


Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

Recommended with reservations   
 
Date Entered: 3/8/2018

This production attempts to weave together into one theme the demonstrations in Cairo, Egypt's Tahrir Square of several years ago and simultaneous demonstrations against Erdogan in Turkey (the so-called “Arab Spring”) with the storytelling tradition of these two cultures as seen in the tales of Shahrazad and the 1001 Nights--all of this to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. The classical piece is performed by the Turkish National Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and the individual movements of the piece give the overall structure to the movie. All of this is quite ambitious and just does not mix very well.

The stories of those who demonstrate against oppression in Egypt are moving, but the narrative is quite broken by scenes of the orchestra in rehearsal and performance, political commentaries by the conductor, more scenes of the orchestra, commentary on the tale of Shahrazad by an artist, still more scenes of the orchestra. There is an interesting addition of numerous excerpts from Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 silhouette animation classic The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Still, despite the great music, the point of the documentary is lost in its ambition to smoothly combine so many elements.