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Summary: In the Napoleonic wars, an officer finds an old book that relates his grandfather's story, Alfons van Worden, captain in the Walloon guard. A man of honor and courage, he seeks the shortest route through the Sierra Morena. At an inn, the Venta Quemada, he sups with two Islamic princesses. They call him their cousin and seduce him; he wakes beside corpses under a gallows. He meets a hermit priest and a goatherd; each tells his story; he wakes again by the gallows... (imdb)
Has its share of eye candy (cinematography and gypsy cleavages) and credit is due for the ambitious narrational device of nesting stories within stories where several of the strands become interconnected later on. This gimmick surely holds great potential, but unfortunately the individual stories did not appeal to me whatsoever (other than in the two ways listed initially). Also, the film is too long and it features a brand of humor that I don't really care for.
Imagine Bunuelian plotting and symbolism punctuated by Mel Brooks' humdingers. I was mostly amused, but moments of the production feel stilted, trying just that tiny bit too hard to be surreal and clever. The film's playful use of time, luckily, feels effortless.
Stories within stories ad infinitum. Frolicking freely through time with incessant charm and wonder, but not without a healthy dosage of death for balance. Circular narrative, dizzying even. Three hours is perhaps a bit too long but it was well worth it.
Astonishing, with one caveat: it's very hard to get into this movie. The first half meanders on and on. The story is told largely in flashback, and the main thread goes nowhere and eventually gets tedious. But suddenly things click when Avadoro starts his tale: a magnificently circular and layered story that satisfies with wit, charm, and ingenuity. Everything comes together and heads for its wonderful conclusion. If you can make it through the early parts, it's a journey well worth taking.
A pioneering work of post-modernist narrative structure in film, but flawed, principally due to second-rate acting and a rather conventional visual imagination. The best thing about it is probably that it provided Bunuel with the inspiration he needed to develop the elliptical narrative structure he used to such great effect in his final films. I have to admit, though, that it kept my interest throughout the three hours.
Labyrinthine tale from sunny Poland, a mindfuck in the sense that you will literally feel like someone is having sexual intercourse with your brain whilst watching it. It's sometimes rough, sometimes lovely and sometimes maddeningly frustrating and probably shouldn't be attempted while enebriated. But when it's good it's fucking amazing.
Don Quixote meets Baron Munchhausen and they spend 1001 Nights together. Based on a novel, a frame-tale nesting many tall tales, sometimes several one within the other, with everything coming together eventually. Has' adaptation is majestic; marvelously directed and played, packed with intrigue and humor, ghosts and witchcraft, foolhardy swordsmen and gorgeous temptresses. The sets are mesmerizing. A rare union of artistic excellence and enthralling fantasy adventure.
Great stories in a beautiful surreal film. Reminiscent of Buñuel it uses dark comedy to make pointed remarks about class and religion. The layers of narrative get a bit thick at times, with stories within stories within stories, but it's not too difficult to follow and very rewarding.
Stories with stories within stories. Complex tale comparable to later Bunuel in it's anti-linear narrative and absurdity. Often gets too convoluted or too confusing for its own good, but usually stays in the realm of entertaining, funny, weird, and layered.